During a press conference held on Thursday, September 8th, 2023, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Giwa Yisa Temitope, expressed that the student body strongly condemned the police crackdown on peaceful student protesters at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) gate yesterday.
The statement criticized the actions of the police as reckless and a violation of the constitutional right to peaceful assembly and association, as enshrined in Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
According to NANS PRO Giwa Yisa Temitope, “The repression that was meted out on [the]protest yesterday in what we best term an ‘absurd’ astronomical increase in fees payable at the University of Lagos is condemnable.”
“Going as far as dispersing a peaceful gathering of students against the absurdity is in itself an absurdity and, as an association, we condemn it in clear terms.
“Students, and, indeed, the Nigerian people must be free to exercise their freedom as explicitly stated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), most especially Section 40 which provides for the right to peaceful assembly and association.”
In its press conference statement, NANS PRO stated that the University of Lagos management had been given a 48-hour ultimatum to reverse the fee increase and refund students who had already paid the higher fees, according to NANS.
The NANS PRO further called for mobilization, stating, “Consequently, all students Union Presidents, NANS leadership, and the Nigerian students are hereby put on notice to begin mobilizations. We shall be hitting the Unilag gates again. The Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Folasade Ogunshola said categorically that we can only protest for three days at the gate and leave. She dared the Nigerian students, called us weak, and insignificant. We will meet her at the barricades.”
NANS also issued a stern warning to the police authorities, stating, “The Police authority must henceforth stop repression of students and people’s protest.”
Furthermore, NANS insisted on federal government action, saying, “As an association, we want to state for the umpteenth time that we are against repression in any form. We condemn the arrest and hereby state that we acknowledge the directive of the federal government asking authorities of tertiary institutions to halt fee increments. However, we insist that the federal government must go beyond this lip service and address the challenge of underfunding of education.”
The press statement expressed gratitude to all those who supported NANS during the recent protests, saying, “We thank all Nigerians who rose when we were arrested and shot at by the police. We especially love the level of solidarity and radical statements from our campuses, most especially the Great Ife Students Union, University of Ibadan Students’ Union, amongst others. The Lagos JCC, NANS Zone D, Groups, and the entire civil society. This is a joy to the heart and a poser to the fact that a new Students Movement is rising collectively again!”