BY Sampson Itode
Civil society organisations in Rivers State have kicked against the suspension of two students of the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education over their alleged attempts to instigate protests within the university campus.
The CSOs, while condemning the one academic session suspension of the students, said the sanction was devoid of due process and amounted to a violation of the students’ right to freedom of expression.
The CSOs made their declaration in a statement, titled, ‘Call for immediate reversal of the suspension of two students by the management of IAUE over Facebook comments’.
The statement was co-signed by Prince Wiro and Festus Bonwin for the Centre for Basic Rights Protection and Accountability Campaign; Karl Uchegbu for Civil Liberties Organisation; and Gbenga Oladapo for Lawyers Watch for Justice International Initiative.
Others are Dandyson Dandyson for the Centre for Human Rights Health Ethnic Harmony and Livelihood Development; and Emem Okon for Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre.
The statement read in part, “We note with dismay the suspension of two students of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rivers State, by the management of the institution over Facebook comments in reaction to a press release by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ozo-Mekuri Ndimele.
“After a meticulous study of the comments made by the suspended students, Remmy Chibuzor and Sunday Idongesit, on the press release of the VC, we state clearly that the comments of the students are 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 man hours occasioned by the delay students have to endure when making transactions, especially payment of school levies and fees which result in large queues in the only bank present in the school.
“Preliminary investigations indicate that the affected 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 negates the principle of fair hearing.
“In the light of the above, we demand an immediate reversal of the suspension of the two students as the suspension lacks merit, due process and amounts to violation of the right of freedom of expression by the students.”
According to the suspension letters sighted by our correspondent on the Facebook page of the university on Wednesday, Chibuzor, of the Department of Educational Management, Faculty of Education, was suspended after he was found guilty of inciting students via his social media account to protest against the university’s authority for having only one bank on campus.
Idongesit, of the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, was suspended for creating panic and confusion after he posted on the social media, calling for the cancellation of the final year examination of the institution scheduled for Monday, November 2, 2020, as well as its matriculation scheduled for Saturday, November 7, 2020.