Nigeria

TASUED students protest colleagues’ arrest by soldiers

Students of Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED) on Friday faced off with soldiers from Ilese Barracks in Ogun State after the latter allegedly arrested some students for a yet-to-be known reason.

A student, who identified himself as Yusuf Bolarinwa told newsmen that many students were arrested by the military late on Thursday night “during a stop-and-search operation” at Conoil filling station close to the school campus.

This resulted in a protest by the students, burning tyres on the road and chanting solidarity songs.

Earlier before the protest, it was gathered that efforts made by the Students Union President, Rabiu Sodiq, hit a brick wall as he was also arrested.

Mr Sodiq was later released around 2 a.m. on Friday alongside four other students, while others are still in the custody of the military, it was learnt.

On Friday, the students resumed their protest, blocking the Benin-Ore expressway in a face to face encounter with soldiers.

Speaking over the phone, the national president of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, Sunday Asefon, told newsmen that he was on his way to the venue of the protest, and has given the army a 24-hour ultimatum to release the arrested students.

Mr Asefon said the incident is a “ridiculous harassment, intimidation and unjustifiable arrest of students by troops of the Nigerian Army attached to the Ilese Barracks in Ogun State”.

“The Nigerian Army is naturally expected to concentrate her efforts in combating the multifaceted security crises in Nigeria and not have the luxury of time to spare to harass students who are not carrying arms against the nation.

“That the Nigerian Army in Ilese has the luxury of harassing and intimidating armless students is a clear indication of their lack of commitment to national security and we believe it is only reasonable if the ranks and file at the Ilese Barrack are redeployed to the North-east to fight a real war against bandits and terrorists so that they can get busy.

“I, therefore, on the potency of the mandate of all Nigerian Students across the board, give a 24-hour ultimatum for the unconditional release of all our students being held at the barrack.”

Mr Asefon said if the army fails to comply with the ultimatum, he would relocate the NANS secretariat in Ogun State to the barracks and mobilise students against the soldiers.

“By this release, I, therefore, direct all our structures to get set and be on standby for ‘Ilese invasion after the expiry of this ultimatum. We have had enough intimidation, extortion and harassment from the Nigerian Police, we must not allow the same by the Nigeria Army to degenerate to the level that cannot be controlled.”

Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Wole Banjo, told newsmen he is yet to get details of the incident.

“As I speak right now, I’m still at the barracks this morning, I just want to see those students that were arrested, so immediately after seeing them maybe I will call you back to give you the full details.

“We closed normally from the office without any issue yesterday, there was no security problem on the campus, we don’t even have any issues with the students. So it was later in the day that we learnt that soldiers arrested some of the students. We are here now to find out exactly what happened.

“We are not relying on hearsay, what the students say and what anybody is talking about. We are here now to hear from the military what actually happened. After listening to them, we would be able to intervene in the matter but we are making moves to get them released.”

The military spokesperson, Haruna Tagwai, did not respond to phone calls and text messages requesting comments.

When contacted, the police spokesperson in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the face-off between the military and the students.

He added that policemen were drafted to the scene of the incident to ensure that the protest did not turn violent.

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