Members of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) on Monday blocked major roads in some cities in Oyo, Edo, and Ondo States.
This was done in protest against the prolonged industrial action by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as a result of several failed negotiations with the Federal Government.
While protesting students of the University of Ibadan blocked the school’s entrance in the state capital, those from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) barricaded the major road along where the institution is situated in Ogbomoso.
The students also called on the state governor, Seyi Makinde, to ensure public universities in the state back out of ASUU just as it was done in some states for academic activities to resume.
LAUTECH, according to them, has been through a series of industrial crises in the past and should not be made to face more hardship.
“Last week, I saw something on Facebook that Alhaji Shehu Shagari was appealing to ASUU to go back to class. Alhaji Shagari ruled 43 years ago. And he was appealing to ASUU to go back to school,” the presidential aide said.
“That shows you that this is an endemic issue. Left to the government, the students will go back tomorrow but then the issue has to be resolved conclusively so that in another six weeks, eight weeks, or six months, we don’t go back to where we are today.
“It would not vitiate the legacy of the president in any way because this dates back in time. It was there under Shagari; it was there under Buhari as a military leader; it was there under Babangida, and it was there under Shonekan — under everybody.”
Earlier in the day, Buhari had appealed to the striking lecturers to consider the students’ plight and call off the strike.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on ASUU to consider the plight of the students and call off the ongoing strike action,” Buhari said at the 19th National Productivity Day and conferment of the National Productivity Order of Merit award held at the State House in Abuja.
“I also call on students to exercise patience as we try to address the nagging issues in our university system within the ambits of available resources.”
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has directed all its structures and organs to block all federal roads in protest against the continued shutdown of public universities in the country.
Against the backdrop of the extension of the warning strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), NANS asked the students to ensure the roads are blocked daily for at least three hours until the Federal Government resolves its impasse with the aggrieved lecturers.
NANS National Public Relations Officer, Victor Ezenagu, declared the mass action tagged ‘Operation Test Run’ on Tuesday during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
“We are poised at ensuring that our campuses are reopened and as such, the instruction has gone out to all the 36 states and the FCT calling on all our structures to begin (the mass action) immediately, starting from today, by barricading and blocking every federal road, every road leading to the airports, and ensuring they remain on the street for at least three hours every day until the Federal Government does something as regards to settling their impasse with ASUU for us to return to our campuses,” he said during the breakfast programme.
Academic activities have been grounded in public universities across the country following a warning strike by ASUU in February.
Some of the issues that led to the industrial action include renegotiations of the 2009 agreement, payment system for members, and revitalisation of the nation’s universities, among others.
Next Generation Or Elections?
Following several negotiations between the government and ASUU that ended in a deadlock, the union on Monday extended the strike by another 12 weeks.
This further worsens the plight of students whose hopes of returning to the classroom have been dashed again, despite staying away from campus for almost three months.
NANS, in its reaction, said ‘Operation Test Run’ would be a precursor to a total shutdown that would be decided during its Senate meeting/pre-convention on Saturday, May 14.
While the ASUU strike persists, according to the union, students will continue to occupy roads leading to airports and might be forced to disrupt political activities, including parties’ primaries to elect candidates for the 2023 general elections.
“There shall be no primaries, there shall be no political activities if our future is not resolved, if our future is not decided well, if the issue concerning the Nigerian students is not resolved, because we cannot be talking about next elections, we should be talking about next generation,” Ezenagu stated.
“If we are only concerned about elections, then what happens to the next generation? Education is the only thing that can ensure and ascertain the existence of Nigeria and make Nigeria a better place. We cannot sit back and watch our fathers who are almost in their dying age toy with our future; we will not allow that.
“There shall be no primaries, there shall be no political activities in Nigeria except the ASUU strike is resolved. We are not deterred, we are formidable; we are coming to shock Nigerians, we are coming to shock the government, we are coming to shock everybody.”
Sri Lanka’s president Friday declared a state of emergency for the second time in five weeks, giving security forces sweeping powers amid a nationwide strike by angry demonstrators who blame him for an unprecedented economic crisis.
A spokesman for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said he invoked the tough laws to “ensure public order” after shops closed and public transport was halted Friday, bringing the South Asian island nation of 22 million people to a standstill after weeks of unrest.
Earlier Friday, police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse students attempting to storm the national parliament demanding Rajapaksa resign.
The emergency gives sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain suspects for long periods without judicial supervision.
It also allows the deployment of troops to maintain law and order in addition to police.
The spokesman said the laws will go into effect from midnight Friday.
Beleaguered Rajapaksa had declared an earlier state of emergency on April 1, a day after thousands of protesters attempted to storm his private home in the capital. That emergency was allowed to lapse on April 14.
But protests have escalated since then, fuelling Sri Lanka’s worst crisis since independence in 1948.
The new emergency declaration came as thousands of demonstrators remained outside Rajapaksa’s sea-front office, where they have been protesting since April 9, and smaller groups also tried to storm homes of other key government politicians.
The students’ attempt to storm the tightly-guarded legislature on Friday was their second in as many days.
They and other demonstrators blame Rajapaksa and his ruling family for mismanaging the economy. Months of blackouts and acute shortages of food, fuel and pharmaceuticals have caused widespread suffering across the island.
Millions of workers stayed off work on Friday in the strike, organised by the country’s trade union movement. Train and state-owned bus services were disrupted.
Industrial workers demonstrated outside their factories and black flags were hung across the country in an expression of anger against the government.
“We can pinpoint the policy blunders of the president that led to this very sorry state of our economy,” said trade union leader Ravi Kumudesh. “He must go.”
Private buses, which account for two-thirds of the country’s fleet, were also off the road, Private Bus Operators Association chairman Gemunu Wijeratne said.
“We are not providing services today, but if groups of people want to join the anti-government protests within a radius of 20 kilometres, we will give our buses free of charge,” Wijeratne told reporters in Colombo.
Rajapaksa has insisted he will not step down despite the escalating demonstrations, including the protest outside his office which has forced him to work from home.
Official sources said the president could pressure his elder brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, to step down and allow the formation of a unity government to guide the country out of the economic crisis.
The main opposition SJB party has insisted that it will not take up any role in a national administration unless the president also steps down accepting responsibility for mismanagement and corruption.
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis took hold after the coronavirus pandemic hammered income from tourism and remittances.
Unable to pay for fuel imports, utilities have imposed daily blackouts to ration electricity, while long lines of people snake around service stations for petrol and kerosene.
Hospitals are short of vital medicines and the government has appealed to citizens abroad for donations.
Last month Sri Lanka announced it was defaulting on its $51 billion foreign debt, and finance minister Ali Sabry warned this week that the country will have to endure its unprecedented economic hardships for at least two more years.
Jean-Jacques Kabeya is furious: like other foreign students in Ukraine — from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East — he says has been stopped from leaving the country by its border guards.
He and several other foreigners alleged racist treatment by both the border guards and ordinary Ukrainians in interviews with AFP.
Two days after fleeing the bombing around the eastern city of Kharkiv, Kabeya reached the checkpoint at Shegyni, at the border with Poland, on Sunday evening.
But the soldiers and security guards there turned him back, said the 30-year-old student studying to become a pharmacist.
“They told me ‘You’re going to stay here, you’re fleeing the war, stay here; you are going to fight with us — you’re not leaving, least of all you blacks’,” he said.
Now, after 36 hours waiting in vain to get through, he was back at the train station in the western city of Lviv.
There he found some compatriots from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who took him under their wing.
“It’s a catastrophe!” said Kabeya, adding that he was still trying to find a way out.
Ukraine is a popular destination for foreign students, with tens of thousands heading there to study.
But other foreign students in Lviv had similar stories to tell, and the governments of Nigeria and South Africa have already called for better treatment for their citizens.
The African Union issued a statement Monday expressing concern at what appeared to be the “shockingly racist” treatment of foreign students.
Some countries did however report that a few dozen of their citizens had managed to leave the country.
At Shegyni border post on Tuesday morning, there were still several hundred people, muffled up against the cold, queueing patiently to make the crossing.
They were from Pakistan, India, Algeria, DR Congo, Cameroon, Ghana, and Algeria. Some said they had spent four nights there, with temperatures dropping as low as -10° (14 degrees Fahrenheit), in a desperate bid to leave.
On the other side of the road was another queue, reserved for Ukrainians — mainly women and children as most men had stayed behind to fight.
That line was moving more quickly.
“All of us, we’ve got our papers,” said Mesum Ahmed, a 23-year-old computer student from Pakistan. “Because we’re foreigners, they are treating us like dogs.
“We’ve been sleeping here, on this pavement,” said Ahmed, dressed in denim and sporting a beanie and a travel pillow around his neck.
“But the Ukrainians, they couldn’t care less.”
“You can see fine well what separates them from us,” a young Nigerian added, bitterly. “We’re black, that’s what it is.”
The only help on hand was from the local volunteers serving them hot drinks and sandwiches.
“We’re here, we wait, and they don’t tell us anything,” said Richard Adjen Kusi, a student from Ghana.
He left the central city of Cherkassy when Russian President Vladimir Putin “started talking about nuclear weapons three days ago.”
But everything seemed to be blocked here, he said. “It’s not moving one centimetre…I’m scared.”
A group of around 30 students from Cameroon who until recently had been in the central city of Kirovograd said it was only in the last few days that they had experienced racism in Ukraine.
Before the war, everything had been fine.
But Bryan Famini, a 22-year-old economics student, said that changed with the invasion.
“In the stations, on the trains, were systematically kept away from the seating,” he said.
“Some Ukrainians even made fun of us from their cars, seeing us walking,” said 22-year-old Ghislain Weledji.
“I’ve been disappointed by this country,” he added. “I won’t be coming back.”
Ukraine’s border service denied there had been any difficulties.
“Nobody has been prevented from leaving Ukraine,” they told AFP. No, they had received no complaints.
On the Polish side, officials confirmed that anyone fleeing Ukraine would be welcomed, whatever their nationality.
As well as the nearly 680,000 refugees who have already left Ukraine, there are an estimated one million who have had fled their homes but are still inside the country.
At Lviv station, 70 kilometres (44 miles) from the border, thousands of Ukrainians — and some foreigners — were still waiting Tuesday, in the hope of getting a place on one of the rare trains leaving for Poland.
Amanjyot, a 23-year-old medical student said she had tried to board one train the day before but that Ukrainians had been given priority.
But she and her friends were grateful for the succour provided by Ukraine’s Red Cross workers and other charities in front of the station.
“They help so much!” she said. There was plenty of food and they took care of everyone, without discrimination, she added.
A first group of Ghanaian students evacuated from Ukraine arrived home on Tuesday as African governments stepped up efforts to extract stranded citizens following the Russian invasion.
Nigeria plans to start evacuating hundreds of its citizens on Wednesday from neighbouring Poland, Romania and Hungary, where they have fled the conflict.
Nigeria’s government and the African Union (AU) on Monday condemned re
ports that Africans had been mistreated and in some cases denied the right to cross Ukraine’s borders to safety.
Looking cheerful after finally reaching the capital Accra, the Ghanaian students said they wanted to get back together with their families after the difficult journey.
Ghanaian officials said the 17 students were the first batch of over 500 students expected to be brought home.
“I was afraid for my life, that is why I decided to leave. Some cities were being bombed close to my place and I spoke to my parents who asked that I should leave,” Priscilla Adjai, one of the students, told AFP in the capital Accra.
“It has not been easy but thank God we managed to move out and have finally made it to Ghana.”
Another student, Esther Edze, said her group had been helped by the Church of Pentecost to leave Ukraine and meet up with Ghanaian diplomats on the other side of the border.
Monday’s protest was triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Hundreds of people have fled the country since Vladimir Putin launched the attack on its neighbours.
The Nigerian government had in the wake of the invasion rolled out plans to evacuate its citizens from Ukraine, although many faulted their move for being belated. In a statement on Sunday evening, the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs said 256 Nigerians have so far left Ukraine.
“We assure Nigerians that all hands are on deck and arrangements are being put in place to effectively evacuate our citizens, in safety and dignity,” the ministry said.
Earlier, the presidency had condemned reports of officials barring Nigerians from leaving the country to neighbouring nations. It described the development as “unfortunate”.
“We understand the pain and fear that is confronting all people who find themselves in this terrifying place,” a presidential aide, Garba Shehu, said in a statement issued on Sunday.
“We also appreciate that those in official positions in security and border management will in most cases be experiencing impossible expectations in a situation they never expected. But, for that reason, it is paramount that everyone is treated with dignity and without favour.
“All who flee a conflict situation have the same right to safe passage under UN Convention and the colour of their passport or their skin should make no difference.”
‘Everybody Receives Equal Treatment’
But Poland’s ambassador to Nigeria Joanna Tarnawska dismissed claims of unfair treatment.
“Everybody receives equal treatment. I can assure you that I have reports that already some Nigerian nationals have crossed the border into Poland,” she told local media.
Nigerians could stay for 15 days. Even invalid documents were being accepted to cross the border and Covid-19 restrictions were lifted, she added.
Nigeria is not the only African with evacuation plans for its citizens stranded in the conflict. A group of South Africans, mostly students, have been stuck at the Ukrainian-Polish border, the country’s foreign ministry spokesman, Clayson Monyela, said on Twitter.
The South African ambassador to Warsaw was at the site trying to get them through, according to Monyela who on Sunday had said Africans were being “treated badly” at the Polish-Ukraine border.
Ghana’s government said it would meet with parents of students stuck in Ukraine on Tuesday and sent embassy officials to border points to help.
Ivory Coast, which according to state media has 500 nationals in Ukraine, said it was also making arrangements for their evacuation.
Kenya’s foreign affairs ministry said 201 citizens were in the country, most of them students. It said last week all Kenyans were safe and accounted for but that some were stuck at the Polish border because of visa restrictions.
Students of Ondo State government-owned Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko have trooped to the streets to protest against incessant road crashes close to the university campus.
Over the years, many lives have been lost in such road crashes, usually caused by articulated vehicles passing by the route. The students were aggravated by the most recent of such road crashes that happened on Thursday night and claimed the life of a former student of the university, Michael Akinniyi.
The angry students were said to have pursued the trailer, which knocked down Michael, to a neighboring town Oba-Akoko where he was arrested.
Early Friday morning, some students converged at the main gate of the university chanting solidarity songs with placards having different inscriptions to express their grievances.
On Twitter, the hashtag, #SaveAkungba, was among the top trends as many joined the students in calling for action over the repeated accidents.
Meanwhile, the management of the university has postponed the ongoing examinations in order to douse the situation.
“In view of the accident that claimed the life of a former student late evening of yesterday, Thursday, 3rd February 2022, Management has decided to postpone today’s examinations,” a statement from the school read.
“This is to honour the departed soul. A new date for the examinations will be announced later.”
The National Association of Nigerian Students (Ogun State) and the National Association of Ogun State Students have warned against the indiscriminate arrest of students in the state.
They gave the warning on Sunday during a press briefing in Abeokuta, pledging to give adequate support to the newly reinvigorated OP-MESA to strengthen security across tertiary institutions in the state.
Towards this, they promised to set up a volunteer group to work in collaboration with the security outfit to give first-hand intelligence information about activities of internet fraudsters and other criminal activities among students.
“We want to use this medium to give kudos to Governor Dapo Abiodun for listening to the yearnings of millions of residents of this state on the issue of security,” they said.
“The launch of OP-MESA by the governor to tackle armed robbery, cultism, kidnapping, banditry, killer herdsmen, highway robbery and other criminal activities in the state shows that he is indeed concerned and ready to provide topnotch security for over seven million residents of this state so that they can sleep with their two eyes closed.
“We also want to commend our amiable governor for setting the pace by setting up an agency to address issues surrounding financial crimes in our state. We are of the conviction that the time to tame this monster that has brought our societal values to ridicule is now. We want to express our unalloyed support to Mr. Governor on this task.
“As students’ leaders, we are not unaware that some students have the tendency to behave like Judas Iscariot and we will not condone such. We will partner with the Ogun State government and other security agencies to ensure that such persons are tracked, arrested, and prosecuted according to the laws of the land.”
The students also promised to deploy all necessary platforms across tertiary institutions in the state to ensure that the exercise achieves the highest results desirable by the governor.
“We are ready to provide the state government with volunteers from the student constituency who will serve as whistle blowers on our campuses,” they added.
“These volunteers will assist in giving firsthand intelligence to security agencies as regards activities on suspected internet fraudsters on our campuses.”
His parents, who live in Yobe State, said they had received a disturbing call on Sunday morning from the school authority asking them to come over.
“Though in critical condition, he is breathing normally, I thank God that he is still breathing. The person who did this thing to him must be a serious criminal. This is a heinous crime to get hold of a small boy like this and slit his throat it’s terrible. The CID came and they met me here and I am sure they are on top of it,” his guardian told Channels Television.
Also speaking to journalists, the principal of the junior section of the school, Kashim Ibrahim Abdullahi said: “This incident happened in the night and was after the prep time. I was in my house in the quarters of the Elkanemi College when the students ran to me and said somebody was bleeding terribly. So, I picked my car and rushed the boy to the state specialist hospital where the doctor referred us to the trauma center here in the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.
“The child has been given a befitting treatment and an operation before he was brought to the Intensive Care Unit”.
Family sources say Jubril’s vocal cavity was affected by the injury but he has been able to scribble some details of what happened on the night he was assaulted.
The school authorities also denied allegations of an attempt to shroud the act in secrecy in order to set the perpetrator free.
“We are going to stand to see that justice is given; we are not going to support anybody that will do this heinous act. We are a school of Islamic theology and this is not what we are preaching but you know when you are dealing with human beings, some human beings are vicious you may not know. This is something that is hidden but thank God we have seen this and we are going to take drastic measures,” the principal said.
Meanwhile, the hostel masters in charge of the rooms that the boys were, have been fired, but still in the school’s custody to aid investigations.
The four students of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) who were kidnapped last weekend have been released and reunited with their families.
Gbaa, Nenubari, Asumbo Elizabeth, Eze Chimezie, and Onosigho Augustine were abducted on their way from the Orashi River where they had gone for a vegetation sampling for their final year project and postgraduate research work.
Receiving the kidnapped victims in his office, the Vice-Chancellor Professor Owunari Georgewill commended the men of the Nigeria Police Force, the Chief Security Officer of the University and his men, and the entire security agencies of Rivers and Bayelsa states for their timely and prompt intervention which led to the release of the students.
“We are happy that you are back unhurt and now reunited with your family and friends. We sympathise with you for what you went through in the hands of your abductors. We are glad to inform the public that two Ph.D. students and two undergraduates who were kidnapped have regained their freedom,” VC said.
The VC urged all staff and students to be security conscious at all times.
Professor Georgewill therefore, reiterated the resolution of his administration to always put at the front burner, the safety and well-being of all students of the University of Port Harcourt.
The victims escaped on Wednesday morning under counterfire power and had since reunited with their families.
The Lagos State Government has cleared five students and five employees of Dowen College accused of complicity in the death of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni.
The state cleared them as well as the school following the Legal Advice of the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Ms. Adetutu Oshinusi.
Channels Television obtained a copy of the legal advice which was addressed to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID and the trial magistrate, Magistrate Olatunbosun Adeola.
According to the advice, the interim and final autopsy reports issued by the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital and toxicology report of post mortem samples and that of the Central Hospital, Warri were in agreement as to the cause of death namely: Septicaemia, Lobar Pneumonia with Acute Pyelonephritis, Pyomyositis of the right ankle and Acute Bacteria Pneumonia due to severe Sepsis.
The result of the toxicology is also not indicative of any toxic or poisonous substance in the body of the deceased.
The DPP’s legal advice, therefore, concluded that based on these findings, there is no prima facie case of murder, involuntary manslaughter and or malicious administering of poison with intent to harm against the five students, Favour Benjamin aged 16, Micheal Kashamu (15), Edward Begue (16), Ansel Temile (14) and Kenneth Inyang (15).
The state also cleared the minors of belonging to unlawful society due to insufficient facts to establish the offence.
It stated that “from available facts in the duplicate case file, the investigation carried out by the Police did not reveal that any secret society name, tattoo or insignia of any unlawful society was found in the possession of any of the suspects during the investigation carried out by the Police.
“To hold otherwise would amount to sniffing for an offence and a speculative act which is not permitted in law. It is trite law that suspicion no matter how grave cannot be a ground for conviction”.
The state also cleared the school and five employees: Celina Uduak, Valentine Igboekweze, Hammed Ayomo Bariyu, Adesanya Olusesan Olusegun and one Adeyemi of the offence of Negligent Act Causing Harm contrary to section 252 of the Criminal Law Ch. C17, Vol.3, Laws of Lagos State 2015.
The state, therefore, directed that all the suspects should be released if they are still in custody.