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‘We Were Beaten, Threatened’: UNILAG Student Activists Speak After Release

The student activists said they were held at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Yaba, for peacefully protesting the exponential increase in fees at the University of Lagos. 

Arrested student activists say they were beaten and threatened by operatives of the Lagos Police for peacefully protesting at their university yesterday.

One of the protesters, Olorunfemi Adeyeye, made this known to HumAngle in an interview today after they were released.

Adeyeye and others were on Sept. 6, arrested by operatives of the Lagos Police as they protested a recent hike in obligatory fees at the University of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria. Fees had seen upto 600 per cent increase. 

“As an engineering student, I paid a total of N21,000 (excluding other sundry charges) last session,” Oyelumade Oluwakemi Idris, a final year student of the Surveying and Geoinformatics Department in UNILAG told HumAngle, explaining that she is now obligated to pay N140,000 obligatory fees, excluding other charges such as accommodation fees and departmental dues which have equally been increased.

Alleged ongoing extortion is also one of the reasons they are protesting.

Some of the placards displayed by students during the protest complained of their inability to afford the new fees.

Adeyeye said they were first held in a black Maria (a black Police van) at the university junction. There, they were kept for almost two hours before being transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Yaba.

While in custody, Adeyeye says, he and the others were beaten and threatened by the Police operatives.

“Several officers were telling us that we would die,” he recalled.

He also said the operatives took pride in arresting them and they were quick to show this off to a superior upon their arrival to the department.

“They were saying ‘Capo! It was me who arrested this one…,’ They were fighting among themselves,” he remarked.                                                                      

HumAngle had yesterday reported that Adeyeye and another protester, Phillip Olatinwo, were arrested by Police. Adeyeye said six executive members of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) were equally arrested, as well as a passerby who had nothing to do with the protest.

“We later found out that he [the passerby] is an artisan who was contracted by one of the protesters to help him in his house but was picked up and added to the van,” he said.

A bigger protest

The student activist told HumAngle they plan to hold “a total and comprehensive protest” to address the recent hike in mandatory fees in UNILAG.

They have appropriately communicated with the school authorities and will only swing into action if the school fails to reconsider their position on the fee increment, he said. 

“We will have a press conference today to address this issue and if none of it is addressed in the next 48 hours, we will announce the protest,” he said.

When asked if the school has reached out in any way or responded to their protest action, Adeyeye told HumAngle that there has been no real satisfactory response. 

Adeyeye emphasizes that the new increment will “price the poor out of education.”

HumAngle has recently published reports highlighting how the cost of living crisis and the recent hike in tuition fees in some Nigerian universities are making education inaccessible for underprivileged students.

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Chigozie Victor

Chigozie Victor is a journalist and a creative writer. Her work focuses on SGBV, policy and security infrastructure. The graduate of English and Literature from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka is passionate about helping audiences understand salient issues through clear reporting and multimedia journalism. She tweets at @nwaanyi_manaria

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