Students ask government to apologise for police attack on them during protests.
The students of the Lagos State University have rejected the government’s decision to reduce the school fees of the institution by 34-60 per cent.
In a press conference, Thursday, in Lagos, the students said the state government has been insincere in its dealings with them.
“We do not accept the percentage reduction offered by the Government because in 2011 when the fees were increased, it was not done on percentage level. Rather, they made the pronouncement in Nigerian naira and kobo,” said the statement read by Nurudeen Yusuf, President of the Students’ Union.
“We urge the Government to come out in extant words as to how much will be payable by our students in naira and kobo and not in percentage. How do they expect our parents, the market women scrambling to pay our fees, to calculate the percentage?
“The Government is only trying to play jokers on our future, our destiny and the posterity of the state. Even if the governing council and the internal structure in the university will be put to their statutory work, we question the sincerity of the Government on this matter because the pronouncement of the fee was as a result of a Visitation Panel set up by the Government of which report was selectively adopted.”
The students, however, stated that they would only accept a 67 per cent reduction “across board” in their school fees which ranges between N197,750 and N348,750.
They also demanded a public apology from the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State and the Lagos State Government over the arrest, detention and brutalisation of their colleagues.
On Wednesday, the ad-hoc committee set up by the State Executive Council to liaise with the students had announced that they had decided to review downwards the fees payable by the students.
“Government agrees that with the subsidised tuition fees and appropriate moderation of the incidental fees, a reduction ranging from 34 per cent to 60 per cent is possible across the different faculties and courses,” the resolution of the committee stated.
“Government has therefore approved the reductions and, in accordance with the Law setting up the University, forwarded its approval to the University Governing Council for consideration and implementation.
“Pursuant to its statutory mandate, the University Governing Council will issue details of what is now payable by students in each Department and deal with all other management matters of the University. All individuals and groups within the community are advised to relate to the University Council accordingly.”
But the students said they had proposed a fee regime of N46,500 as new fees for returning students and N65,500 for freshers, which the government ignored.
“These fees were not just arrived at; but after a mass meeting with the entire students, where the breakdown was carefully scrutinised, the students arrived at these fees. The proposal was sent to the Governor on the Thursday, April 24, 2014.
The proposal was followed by several reminders. Sequel to our proposal and letters, we discovered that the Lagos state Government was not ready to listen to our yearnings and aspirations; we decided to embark on peaceful marches to sensitize the public and demand that our proposal on reduction of the outrageous fees be approved,” Mr. Yusuf said.
The students’ peaceful protests across the city had, however, been met with a stiff resistance by armed police officers.
On Tuesday, last week, following the students’ protests along the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, armed police officers allegedly fired ‘lived bullets’ at them and arrested eight of the students.
Two days ago, armed police officers chased and shot tear gas canisters at the students who were returning to the governor’s office for another round of protests.
“The attack of the Police on Tuesday, June 2, and June 10 is reminiscent of the dark days of the military. It again shows the level of impunity in the Force,” said Mr. Yusuf. “This is a Force that is meant to protect harmless citizens only for them to start attacking innocent students that were on peaceful march exercising our inalienable rights provided for in Section 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and enshrined in African Charter on Human Rights of 1981.
“On the 2nd day of June, 2014, LASU students were peacefully marching from Ikeja Along to Oshodi and suddenly, the policemen that were accompanying us changed tactics and went ahead to lay an ambush for us at Bolade, adjacent the Nigerian Army Shopping Complex. Men of the Nigerian Police Rapid Response Squad fired tear gas at us in a desperate bid to disperse us.
“They also shot live bullets at us on the order of the Chief Security Officer of the State, who is supposed to be responsible for our security. Ten (10) students were injured as a result of the tear gas while (14) students were arrested, detained, and brutally maltreated in detention while 8 students were arraigned before the Magistrate Court, Ikeja.
“The attack on June 10, 2014 not only shows the level of impunity in the force, it also brings disrepute to the Lagos State Government particularly the governor Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN). The action right in front of the governor’s office is questionable. Where else should the citizens be safe if not in the Government House.”