The University of Ibadan has suspended a student, Adekunle Adebajo, over an article published two years ago.
Mr Adebajo, a student journalist, wrote under the title “UI: The irony of fashionable rooftops and awful interiors”, in The Guardian of April 2016 about poor facilities at the university.
He drew attention to the deplorable state of the facilities at the Nigerian premier university.
Piqued by the article, the university, two days after the publication, asked Mr Adebajo to face the disciplinary committee.
In the following months, the student continued to face disciplinary charges which he always defended before he was eventually told he had been rusticated for two semesters at the end of May.
But it was on Friday that the rustication of Mr Adebajo became public, with his colleagues within and outside UI accusing the university authorities of being anti-free speech and oppressive.
“It is true, I was rusticated by University of Ibadan for an article written in 2016,” said Mr Adebajo on Facebook. “The verdict was made three weeks ago.”
Mr Adebajo, now suspended, is a student of the Faculty of Law where he was rounding off his degree as a 500 level student.
When contacted the Vice Chancellor of the university, Idowu Olayinka, he described the suspension as an internal matter.
“It is an internal matter of the university,” he said.
“If he has been written to, there is a process of appeal. They cannot be fighting the battle alone on social media.
“The verdict or letter will surely have it that if he is not satisfied with the judgement of the panel. He should appeal. I will advise that he first explore the option of appeal before expressing displeasure on social media,” the professor said in a telephone interview.
The university’s action appears the latest in a series of moves by the management to stifle critical dissent. The students union in the school is still banned and its leaders suspended for leading protests against what was considered poor administration by the management including non-provision of identity cards already paid for by students.
On Mr Adebajo’s suspension, student journalists under the aegis of Free Campus Press Movement have condemned the decision of the university management.
In a statement on Friday, they said, “Not only do we find this strange in the current dispensation of modern terms and in the post-colonial era, we also find it strange that the University failed to observe that this intellectual work did not in anyway abuse or defame any personality nor institution but rather aimed to improve the standard of the University.
“We are deeply disappointed that a university of prestige and calibre like the University of Ibadan will fail to observe that ethics of journalism requires objectivity, we feel the objectivity of Kunle Adebajo was seen as subjectivity by the university management which is appaling.”
Stating further, they emphasised the importance of freedom of the press and sought actions towards the reversal of the rustication of Mr Adebajo.
“In the current age where press freedom is being preached, we find it very disheartening that the University of Ibadan decided to be the premier varsity in suspending campus journalists. We will not fold our arms. we call on all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the university management to rescind the suspension of Mr Adebajo.
“We are embarking on a massive media campaign and social media campaign. We plead with all media stakeholders to support this move, using #FreeKunleAdebajo on social media, and help end this not just for now but for future of journalism in Nigeria.”