Hon. Comrade Emmanuel Afolabi (popularly called AFOO), the General Secretary of the suspended University of Lagos Students’ Union (ULSU) has written a 14 paged letter to the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof Rahamon Adisa Bello over the decision of the University management to suspend the Students’ Union of the institution over a protest. The letter was delivered to the VC today 14th June, 2016.
In the letter, Comrade Afolabi expresses pains over the hasty conclusions of the University’s Senate, the roles of the Dean of Student Affairs (DSA) in the issue, and the management’s reactions to the Union’s matters.
You can read the letter below.
Dear Prof Gana,
RUSTICATION FOR SOCIAL MISCONDUCT: APPEAL AGAINST DISCIPLINARY PANEL RECOMMENDATION AND SENATE DECISION
I write to appeal against the recommendation of the Special Senate Disciplinary Panel on Recent Students’ Protest, and the decision of the Senate of this University to rusticate me for alleged social misconduct. The rustication was contained in a letter signed by the Director of Academic Affairs, dated 29th July and received by me at about 10.15am on 4th August, 2016.
The Senate Disciplinary Panel had invited me to respond to statements/assertions of misconduct made against me in connection to the University of Lagos Students’ Union protests of 6th, 7th, and 8th April, 2016.
I was alleged to have committed the following offences:
- Locking of the Student Affairs Office
- Locking of the two University gates
- Declaring a protest without Congress approval.
I honoured the invitation of the Panel on 21st June, 2016 and I told the Panel that I did not commit any of the offences because I did not lock the Student Affairs Office, I did not lock any of the University gates, and I did not declare any protest whatsoever.
It is very shocking to know that the Panel found me guilty of allegations which they (the Panel) provided no evidence or witness to support. It is also surprising that this same Panel recommended that the Senate rusticate me for two (2) semesters when I made it very convincing to them that those allegations against me are wrong and untrue. I am strongly convinced that this Senate Disciplinary Panel is unfair and untruthful, and their recommendation is devoid of logical and balanced analysis.
It is also important that I let you know that I officially demanded for a Proof of Evidence of those allegations from this Senate Disciplinary Panel according to the Principle of Fair Hearing as embedded in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but the Panel failed to provide me with proof; I only appeared before the Panel to give them the benefit of doubt. How did the Panel come about my culpability in these allegations when they have no proof? Is the Senate even right to have been a judge in their own case?
I firmly disagree with this Panel recommendation and Senate decision particularly because this matter is pending before the Court of Law and this decision can be interpreted to be a contempt of Court.
Sir, please permit me to briefly explain and defend the allegations against me. Firstly, it was alleged that I, Emmanuel Afolabi, on the 7th of April 2016 at about 12noon, in company of other Student Union leaders, locked all the doors of the Student Affairs office with padlocks for about 3 hours. The truth is that I, Emmanuel Afolabi of the Department of English, DID NOT lock any door of the Student Affairs office at any time on the 7th of April or at any time or day. If the Students’ Union through its picketing strategy during protest locked the doors of the Student Affairs office, I, Emmanuel Afolabi DID NOT carry out the act on behalf of the Union.
If this Panel recommendation and Senate decision is being done by virtue of my being an Executive member of the Union or because I am a student of this University, then it is an error on the side of the Panel and the Senate because I, Emmanuel Afolabi CANNOT be singled out of the entire students of the University as I am only a member out of about 30, 000 regular students of the University. If this Panel and the Senate insist that I, Emmanuel Afolabi committed this offence, then they should provide me with pictorial evidence to prove it.
Secondly, it was alleged that I sent a text message to the Dean of Student Affairs on the 7th of April, 2016, the content of which is as follows:
We have been patient enough sir, we’ll lock the gate if we don’t see you here in 5mins.
This text message is considered by this Panel as a threat.
It was also alleged that I and other student union leaders locked with padlocks the two gates of the University of Lagos on the 7th April and 8th April.
It is true that I sent a text message with the above content to the Dean of Student Affairs, but I did that in my capacity as the General Secretary of the Students’ Union. I must say that the only reason the Dean of Student Affairs will have any conversation with me concerning the protest is because I am the Secretary of the Union.
The above text message is not a threat in any way; the Dean of Student Affairs had called me on my 08034903660 phone number at about 11:55pm on the night of 6th April (the first day of the protest), he also spoke with the President of the Union – Mr Muhammed Olaniyan, and the Social Secretary – Mr Oluku Onyeka, and he commended us for not locking the school gates during our protest. I had told the Dean that night that all he needed to do to stop the protest was to get the Vice Chancellor to address the students on all the issues bothering us, that is all the students wanted, we expected that the Dean would do as we agreed but he did not.
We waited for the Dean to get the VC to talk to us till about 11:45am on the 7th April, when he did not, and the protest was getting to a stage where we had to protect the University and our members, the Union locked the gates after a unanimous agreement. That decision was made to prevent the miscreants outside the University from coming in to hijack the protest, and to protect our members that are inside the school too. That is the reason for the message that I sent on behalf of the Union.
I DID NOT send the Dean that text message as Emmanuel Afolabi, but as the General Secretary of the Students’ Union because the pronoun in the message is ‘we’ and not ‘I’. My responsibility as the secretary of the Union is to send and receive correspondence on behalf of the Union and that is just what I have done. Also, I, Emmanuel Afolabi, DID NOT lock any of the gates of the University of Lagos as alleged by this Panel at any time on the 7th of April or at any time or day. If the Students’ Union through its picketing strategy during protest locked the gates of the University of Lagos, I, Emmanuel Afolabi DID NOT carry out the act on behalf of the Union.
If this Panel recommendation and Senate decision is being done by virtue of my being an Executive member of the Union, then it is an error on their part because I, Emmanuel Afolabi CANNOT be singled out of the entire students of the University. If they insist that I, Emmanuel Afolabi committed this offence, then they should provide me with pictorial evidence to prove that I locked the gates.
Thirdly, it was alleged that I declared a protest without Congress approval and that I got other students participation through intimidation and coercion in breach of the University of Lagos Students’ Union Constitution.
I, Emmanuel Afolabi DID NOT declare any protest whatsoever either with or without the Congress approval at any time. I also DID NOT at any time coarse or intimidate any student to participate in the Protest.
The Students’ Union of the University of Lagos staged a protest, NOT Emmanuel Afolabi! Whichever protest that the Students’ Union staged, either with or without the Congress approval is STRICTLY the Union’s matter, the management of this University has no right to interfere in the affairs of the Students’ Union; besides, the Union’s Parliament is saddled with the responsibility to question any member who goes against the Constitution.
To prove both the Panel and the Senate wrong, I, Emmanuel Afolabi or the Executive Council of the Students’ Union did not unilaterally stage a protest, the entire Students’ Union (including the Union’s Legislative Arm) staged the protest after a Student Leaders’ (including Faculty Presidents, Hall Chairpersons among others) meeting on 5th April, 2016, and there is nowhere in our Union’s Constitution that states that the Congress must ratify or approve a protest before the Union can stage the protest. In fact, there was even no Congress in existence because the Vice Chancellor was supposed to inaugurate the Congress before it can function but he has not. Where then is the Congress that will approve the protest?
I must also state that the right to protest is embedded in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; this means that every Nigerian has the right to protest. If there is any other law or rule that is contrary to this Nigerian Constitutional right in this same Nigeria, then that law or rule is null and void to the extent of its inconsistencies. I know all these for fact.
If the Panel and the Senate still believe otherwise, then they should provide me with proof that this allegation is correct.
Once again sir, I disagree with the recommendation of the Senate Disciplinary Panel and the decision of the Senate to rusticate me for allegations that I have not been proven guilty of.
Based on the above explanations and analysis, I hereby humbly urge the Council of this University to look into this matter and stop the injustice that is being meted out to students of this great University. I have no doubt that the Council will be fair in this matter.
I look forward to your prompt response.
Thank you very much Sir.
Vice Chancellor & Chairman of Senate
Chairman, Special Senate Disciplinary Panel on Recent Students’ Protest
Director, Directorate of Academic Affairs
Dean of Student Affairs
Dean, Faculty of Arts
HOD, Department of English
Chairman, UNILAG Alumni Association
Head of my Family
Okegbemi Olusoji Festus is an Editor/Creative writer at campustori.com, A digital media Executive and a known Social Media Enthusiast.