Group condemns expulsion of students over peaceful protest in UI

Global Rights Nigeria, an international human rights and governance capacity-building Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) has called on the University of Ibadan to immediately rescinds the expulsion of three students who were penalised for participating in a peaceful protest against a sudden tuition hike.

The students, Olamide Gbadegeshin, Aduwo Ayodele, and Nice Linus, were apprehended by army officers alongside Olorunfemi Adeyeye during the inauguration of the Student Union government on May 13, 2024.

In a press release issued on Thursday, the organization emphasized the students’ constitutional right to peaceful protest.

The organization highlighted that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, guarantees the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association, and movement.

“While their action may have posed an inconvenience to the administration of the university, extant laws clearly prescribe their right to protest peacefully,” the statement read.

“A university of the calibre of the University of Ibadan should not be averse to its students exercising this right,’ it added.

Global Rights stressed the vital role of educational institutions in fostering civic engagement among young people and warned against setting a negative precedent by curtailing students’ rights and access to education.

The organization urged the university to address the students’ concerns, particularly in light of the economic challenges affecting access to quality education in Nigeria.

Recognizing the university’s duty to maintain educational standards amidst economic difficulties, Global Rights called for a balanced approach that considers the students’ grievances.

The organization demanded that the planned expulsions be abandoned and that the affected students be allowed to resume their studies without fear of intimidation or harassment.

Global Rights also called for an apology from the security agents who arrested the students during the peaceful protest. Additionally, the organization urged the University of Ibadan to lead by example by fostering open and robust interactions with its student body.

“On our part, we stand solidly behind dissenting voices who choose to participate in their governance and seek social justice utilizing their freedom of expression through peaceful protests,” said Damilola Decker, spokesperson for Global Rights.

The call to action by Global Rights reflects broader concerns about the state of democratic freedoms and the importance of protecting students’ rights in Nigeria’s educational institutions.