Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Protests over five-month Detention of Students who Criticised Madonna Varsity

Scores of college students, below the aegis of the National Association of Nigerian Students, on Tuesday, blocked the entrance to the Federal High Court, Awka, Anambra State, in protest against the arraignment of six undergraduates of the Madonna University, Okija.
The arraigned college students, a member of the National Youth Service Corps and a lecturer of the group have been arrested and have been in detention in view that February this 12 months over an opinion they posted on Facebook about alleged negative control within the institution.

During protest on Tuesday, the students stated if after one week the government of the college failed to withdraw the case towards their colleagues, NANS might mobilise its individuals national and purpose a shutdown of the college.

Led by way of the Vice-President, National Affairs, NANS, Chidi Ilozobe, the scholars described the Madonna University’s movement as primitive.

Ilozobe said, “We are issuing a seven-day ultimatum to the management of Madonna University that if this case isn't always withdrawn from the Federal High Court, we are assuring them that we will mobilise college students from all around the country.

“We will relocate from our homes with mattresses, stoves, fuel cookers and pots to the faculty gate to shut down the university. This is not a chance, it is a promise.”

Narrating what caused the arrest and prosecution of the six college students, the NANS vice-president stated the police acted on a petition by using Madonna University.

Ilozobe said, “We came to sign up our dissatisfaction with how the management of Madonna University is treating our individuals. Sometime in February, we got records that the police, following a petition written by means of the management of Madonna University, arrested some college students of the institution.

“In the petition, they wrote that those college students had been criminals, cultists and fraudsters, however we know that our members are not kidnappers, fraudsters and cultists.

“We determined to investigate the problem and understood that the petition become written a good way to get the accused out of the NYSC camp and their dad and mom’ houses.

“Further research discovered that the college management was appearing due to the fact the students wrote in opposition to them at the social media.”

One of the scholars changed into stated to have written: ‘Good teachers are scarce. Madonna University management need to be exceptional to our lecturers or an excellent quantity of them will surrender’.

Ilozobe said making any such comment become no longer an offence and treating it as such become dictatorial.

The detained students, who appeared in courtroom on Tuesday for further listening to on their bail application, have been taken lower back to the Amawbia Prison due to the fact the court docket did not take a seat due to the absence of the decide, Justice Babatunde Quadri.

The be counted become adjourned until July 2 for further hearing.

Addressing reporters at the court docket premises, the recommend for the scholars, Chinedu Igwe, said his clients were charged with offences bordering on cyber crime for making harmless feedback on the social media.

“To me as a lawyer, it nonetheless falls within the constitutional context of freedom of expression. They said a crime have been dedicated and that Madonna filed a grievance through a petition to the Inspector-General of Police,” Igwe stated.

He said the scholars had been arraigned in February, at the same time as an utility for bail was made through the defence counsel, which the court granted.

The attorney, but, lamented that some of the situations the court docket gave have been stringent and the defendants sooner or later filed an software for variant, which remains pending.

A discern of one of the detained college students, Christopher Onyejekwe, stated he had gone to the founder of Madonna University, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Edeh, 11 instances to beg him to withdraw the prices towards his son to no avail.

He said, “When the police arrested the scholars, I went to Fr. Edeh 11 times and met him. On the eleventh occasion, the only element he advised me become to head and recite the Hail Mary three instances, which I did.

“After a while, I went back to him with 3 distinguished persons, knelt earlier than him to beg him, but he said over his dead frame might he withdraw the case, adding that if I appreciated, I need to bring the President of Nigeria to come and beg him.

“That became how I stopped going to beg him. They stored the scholars in police custody for greater than a month earlier than they have been taken to the Awka Prison.”

He appealed to the Anambra State Governor, Mr Willie Obiano, and the Catholic Bishop of the Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, to interfere within the remember.

Onyejekwe introduced, “Two parents have died inside the course of this depend. They had begged Rev. Fr. Edeh earlier than their deaths. Who killed them?  What will Fr. Edeh advantage from all these?”

Another figure, Mrs Charity Nnamani, whose son, Chijioke, is many of the accused persons, stated her son changed into picked up on February four.

She stated her son changed into a month shy of finishing his NYSC programme in Asaba, Delta State, when the police went to arrest him on allegations of armed robbery and kidnapping, causing the NYSC management to desert him.

Charity stated, “On February 28, we fulfilled the bail situations of the Federal High Court, Awka, for his launch. When they said I have to bring a surety, I added a Grade Level 15 professional, who worked under me because the surety. My Permanent Secretary is aware about it and requested that a director should minute at the letter, which the woman I delivered as surety could put up to the courtroom.

We brought the letter and the surety, but my son has not been launched.”

She added that all tries to peer the proprietor of the college had proved abortive and additionally lamented the incessant adjournments of the case and the absence of the judge.

Efforts to get the response of the prosecution suggest, Augustine Oboo, did not yield results as calls to his cellular phone line rang out and textual content messages despatched to him were not replied to as of the time of submitting this document.

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