By Oladipupo Mojeed
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has threatened to invade the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison in Lagos if the 13 remanded students of the University of Lagos are not released within 24 hours.
In a statement issued on Monday, April 3, the student body said it would “relocate its headquarters” to Kirikiri if the government fails to honour the 24-hour ultimatum.
“After a painstaking review of the circumstances surrounding the draconian ruling, we have resolved to demand and hereby demand the unconditional release of these students within 24 hours,” NANS president, Chinonso Obasi, said in the statement.
“Consequently, we make bold to state that if at the expiration of our 24 hours ultimatum, these innocent students are not released without strings, we shall relocate the Headquarters of NANS to Kirikiri in solidarity with our members.
“We also hope that the authorities would use the opportunity of the 24 hours ultimatum to either expand the facilities of Kirikiri prison or release our colleagues, as they can see we are serious and determined by offering them a fair choice.”
Why they were detained
The detained Unilag students were on Saturday, April 1, charged before a Special Offences Mobile Court for “riotous invasion” of TVC, a television station, as well as the main campus of the University of Lagos and disrupting normal activities.
The accused include Femi Adeyeye (who is currently suspended for four semesters for criticising the University of Lagos management on social media), Tony Aina, Kodri Yaya, Asimi Oladime, Ismahim Olalekan, Segun Okesola, Abdulazeez Soneye, Idris Abogunloko, and Muyiwa Olaniyi.
The rest are Toheed Oladimeji, Joseph Akanni, Lukumon Olusegun, and Abiodun Agbeniyi.
They are all standing trial before P.E Nwaka, a chief magistrate, on two counts of unlawful invasion and disruption of activities.
The students pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The police arrested the students on Friday and charged them to a mobile court on Saturday.
The magistrate ordered their remand at Kirikiri Prison until April 6 when their bail application will be determined.
The students’ body faulted the magistrate’s decision to remand the students in prison for one week.
According to Obasi, being first-time offenders, the Magistrate should have given them a warning.
“If ever he was once a University student, would have handed down a stern warning and demand of good behaviour instead of sending them to prison for whatever reasons.
“In saner climes, what the Magistrate should have done was to certify that the suspects are bonafide students and release them to their school authorities or student leaders.
“But rather than factor in the extenuating circumstances of their protest, the Magistrate apparently in a hurry to please some hidden forces, decided to blunt the proper socialisation of 13 Nigerian leaders of tomorrow.”