The Federal government has used gun wielding security officers to subdue students of the University of Lagos protesting government’s re-naming of the the school after the late businessman cum politician, Moshood Abiola, who won the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
The school’s main gate were flooded with government security agents branding Ak-47 rifles at dawn on Thursday, forcing students who had planned a third day of protest to disperse for fear of arrest and harassment.
Some students resident on the Akoka campus of the university said that while fully armed security operatives kept watch at the gates of the institution, the school’s internal security, backed by government secret service operatives, ensured there were no student gatherings within the school premises.
The students had planned to to continue their protest Thursday with a blockade at the entry points of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos to block government officials from flying.
On Wednesday, the students staged pockets of protests against the name change in areas around the Akoka campus of the university. They barricaded the Third Mainland Bridge, a major bridge linking the mainland to the Lagos Island, causing a major traffic glitch in the commercial city.
The government defended its actions on Wednesday, dismissing the students as misguided and lacking a sense of history, and then following up its position with heavy security deployment around the university.
The information minister, Labaran Maku, while addressing reporters after the Wednesday Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja, suggested the university students and others opposing the university’s new name were probably too young to understand the significance of Mr Abiola in Nigeria’s democracy.
“For those of us who have been part of this country for long and who have been adults that lived through the history of Nigeria, particularly in the last two decades if there is any figure that symbolizes sacrifice of self for this nation, it is Abiola,” the minister said.
Using force on protesters
In January, the government flooded the streets of Lagos and Kano with soldiers to forestall prolonged protests against its decision to remove subsidy on petroleum products.