Thursday, November 5, 2020 2:33 pm
*Suspension is illegal, unconstitutional and abuse of rights to freedom of speech and opinion
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Human rights groups in Rivers State are getting set for a showdown with the management of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Port Harcourt, over suspension of two students.
The students: Remmy Chibuzor and Sunday Idongesit, were suspended for one academic session by the management of the institution over Facebook comments they made in reaction to a press release by the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Ozo-Mekuri Ndimele.
The institution accused Okpokpo of creating panic and confusion when he posted on the social media calling for the cancellation of the final year examination scheduled to commence on Monday November 2, 2020 as well as the Matriculation Ceremony scheduled to hold on Saturday November 7, 2020.
It accused Remmy of calling out students for protest on Wednesday November 4, 2020, against the University Authority for having only one bank on campus.
Both students are to resume school in the 2020/2021 academic session.
In a suspension letter Director, Students Affairs, Dr. C.A. Ajie warned that both students are not to be seen on any of the three campuses of the institution unless on invitation.
But the activists and human rights groups in Rivers have described the action of the management of Ignatius Ajuru University as a negation of the freedom of expression as guaranteed to every Nigerian under the constitution.
They therefore called on the authority of the institution to review and rescind the decision in a statement jointly signed by Prince Wiro and Festus Bonwin Esq of Centre For Basic Rights Protection And Accountability Campaign, Karl Chinedu Uchegbu,a board Member Civil Liberties Organization(CLO), Gbenga Austen Oladapo Esq, Executive Director, Lawyers Watch For Justice International Initiative, Dandyson Harry Dandyson Centre for Human Rights Health Ethnic Harmony and Livelihood Development and Emem Okon-Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre.
Others are: David Nelson Ordu-Former President of Students Union Government,Rivers State University, and Manson Dumlebabari, former Chief Judge SUG/Assistant Secretary General Ken Poly Alumni.
They said after a meticulous study of the comments made by the suspended students on the press release of the VC, they discovered that the comments were not in any way inciting as alleged by the school authority to justify the undeserved suspension.
“The students merely expressed their views on the need for the management to bring in more banks inside the school campus to ease the stress and loss of manhours occasioned by the delay students have to endure when making transactions, especially payment of school levies and fees which result to large queues in the only bank present in the school”.
They pointed out that preliminary investigations indicate that the students were not referred to any disciplinary committee, but were summarily tried by a group consisting of three top management staff of the institution which, according to them, negates the principle of fair hearing.
In the light of the above, the groups demanded immediate reversal of the suspension of the two students which to they said is lacking in merit, devoid of due process and amounts to violation of the right of freedom of expression by the students.
“As groups and individuals conscious of the right of every citizen of Federal Republic of Nigeria, it smacks conspiracy and complicity on our part if we fail to speak truth to the Management of the institution.
“It is on record that we reached out to the VC last month when a female student of the institution was allegedly gang raped by three male students and subsequently commended him for ensuring the arrest of two out of three suspects.
“It is our view that the school management should hearken to the voice of reasoning and reverse the suspension.”