A civil rights group, Education Rights Campaign, ERC, has condemned the arrest and detention of protesting students of the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic MAPOLY, by the police reportedly on the orders of the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun.
This was made known in a press statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday and signed by the National Coordinator, Hassan Soweto.
The group also said the Ogun State government should immediately halt its agenda to sack staff of the institution and meet all the demands of the staff unions so that the institution can be re-opened for students to write their examinations and conclude the semester.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how Ogun State Police Command arrested 20 students of the school for allegedly vandalising government and personal property in Abeokuta metropolis. The students were protesting the stalling of their semester examinations.
Over the past few weeks, the state government and lecturers of the institution have been at loggerheads over the conversion of the polytechnic to a university and subsequent relocation of the polytechnic to Ipokia, a border town in the state.
The lecturers alleged that the state government did not follow due process. They resolved not to resume at the new school premises until the governor met the criteria set by the National Board of Technical Education for such a process.
However, the state has stood its ground on the matter.
Meanwhile, ERC said the imbroglio was as a result of the irresponsibility of the state government.
“We make bold to say that the crisis rocking MAPOLY today is entirely due to the fault and irresponsibility of the Ogun State government”, Mr. Hassan said.
“In a bid to save their jobs, the staff unions have had to embark on strikes which have led to the disruption of the academic calendar with terrible consequence for students of the institution. With their lives wasting away at home, the students embarked on protest with a bid to call the attention of the state government to their plight. But instead of listening to them, Governor Amosun ordered the police to unleash terror on them resulting in many students sustaining injuries and several arrested and detained.”
The group said it found it preposterous that a government saddled with the responsibility of improving the education system and ensuring that the students graduating from the institution are able to contribute meaningfully to the society is treating students in this manner.
“Clearly the Governor Ibikunle Amosun-led state government has proven in both words and action that the improvement of the education sector is of no priority to it,” the statement said.
“To add salt to injury, some of the protesting students whose sole crime was to demand for the resumption of academic activities and the improvement of the education sector which should have been the priority of a responsible government are now being held in police custody.
”We, simultaneously reassert our position that if sincerely the government is interested in the provision of quality university education, the huge and vast resources of the state, if judiciously spent, can go a long way in funding public education adequately in the state.”