By Chijioke Okoronkwo
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has called for the immediate release of 13 students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) being held in Kirikiri Maximum Prison, Lagos.
NANS’ President, Mr Chinonso Obasi, said the union would protest at Kirikiri Prison if the 13 students were not freed within 24 hours.
A Special Offences Mobile Court had on April 1 remanded the 13 UNILAG students in Kirikiri Prisons, pending their bail application.
They were accused of engaging in unlawful invasion of Television Continental in Lagos.
The students were arraigned on a two-count charge of unlawful invasion and disruption of activities and have all pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge.
The accused students are Femi Adeyeye, Toni Aina, Kodri Yaya, Asimi Oladime, Ismahim Olalekan, Segun Okesola, Abdulazeez Soneye, Idris Abogunloko, and Muyiwa Olaniyi.
Others are Toheed Oladimeji, Joseph Akanni, Lukumon Olusegun, and Abiodun Agbeniyi.
The case was adjourned until April 6 for a determination of their bail.
However, Obasi, in the statement, said that Nigerian students would not accept further detention of the students.
“After a painstaking review of the circumstances surrounding the ruling, we have resolved to demand and hereby demand the unconditional release of these students within 24 hours.
“Consequently, we make bold to state that if at the expiration of our 24 hours ultimatum, these innocent students are not released without strings, we shall relocate the headquarters of NANS to Kirikiri in solidarity with our members.
“We also hope that the authorities would use the opportunity of the 24 hours ultimatum to either expand the facilities of Kirikiri prison or release our colleagues, as they can see we are serious and determined by offering them a fair choice.”
Obasi said that the court should have warned the students instead of sending them to prison for a mere protest.
“In other climes what the court should have done was to certify that the suspects are bona-fide students and release them to their school authorities or student leaders.
“ But rather than factor in the extenuating circumstances of their protest, the court hurriedly blunted the proper socialisation of 13 Nigerian leaders of tomorrow,” he said.
Premium Times reported on Sunday that the management of Television Continental (TVC) disputed police claim that the jailed 13 students of the University of Lagos carried out an unlawful invasion of the television facility at the Ikosi neighbourhood of Lagos.
“The Management of Continental Broadcasting Service Limited (owners of TVC) refutes these stories and categorically states that TVC has no hand in the arrest of the students.
“TVC did not at any point report or lodge any complaint at the police station,” remarked Abisola Agbaje, the legal manager of TVC in a press release in Lagos.
Ms. Agbaje said, “Truly, the Students came into our premises on Friday the 31st of March, 2017 on or about3 p.m. to protest the “alleged rustication by UNILAG”.
“The protest was peaceful which we have on record and the students left our premises peacefully.”