Protesting Lagos State University students on Thursday barricaded the office of governor Babatunde Fashola in Alausa, with the Students’ Union, LASUSU, saying it would continue its protest over hike in fees until the state government reduced them.
The barricade came barely 24 hours after eight of the protesting students were arraigned before an Ikeja chief magistrate’s court for alleged breach of public peace.
The students in a protest march arrived at Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja at about 3:00 pm and immediately barricaded the entrance to the governor’s office with two Bus Rapid Transit, BRT buses and other vehicles.
After barricading the entrance, they danced and set up traditional cooking stove where they cooked beans for themselves. They also observed Muslim prayers at the entrance.
The arrival of the students to the seat of power send jitters down the spine of the private security officers attached to the Lagos State House of Assembly as they shut the entrance gate to the legislative house and police officers attached to the Area F police command and Alausa police stations were quickly drafted to the scene to forestall any damage to government’s property.
The union President, Nurudeen Yusuf, said that peaceful protest was a citizen’s right as enshrined in the constitution.
Scores of LASU students, had on Tuesday protested, carrying placards around Ikeja-Along Bus Stop through Computer Village to Oshodi over the fee hike. The protest later turned violent at Bolade area of Oshodi when policemen intercepted the students, firing tear gas and gun shots into the air to disperse the protesters.
Sixteen students were arrested and 10 hospitalised, while five vehicles belonging to the union were seized, even as eight of the students were on Wednesday arraigned before an Ikeja Magistrates’ Court charged with disturbance of public peace.
Yusuf condemned the attack by the policemen, adding that the action was unconstitutional and an abuse of power.
“We are students and Nigerian citizens and as enshrined in the 1999 constitution, we have freedom of expression and the right to protest,” he said.
The union leader said that the students were not engaged in violence on Tuesday but only carried placards and chanted solidarity songs to sensitise the government about their plight.
“We started the protest from LASU gate with five police vans following us all through until we got to Bolade, Oshodi, when it seemed the police received an order to disperse us. We did not vandalise any public property as claimed,” he said.
Yusuf urged Governor Fashola to meet the demand of the students and reduce the tuition fee, as they would not relent in their struggle.
LASU had on April 24 submitted a proposal of N46,500 for returning students and N65,500 for fresh students as the new tuition fees. This is against the current charge of N197,000 and N350,000 respectively for medical students.
The proposal followed the directives of Governor Fashola in a meeting with the students on March 31, to come up with a proposal of how much they can afford.
The ad-hoc committee constituted by the State Executive Council on review of LASU tuition, under the chairmanship of the Commissioner of Transport, Kayode Opeifa, invited the students union for a meeting on May 27.
The committee, however, said that quality education could not be sustained with the fees proposed by the students.