The National Association of Nigerian Students has given the Special Offences Mobile Court in Lagos a 24-hour ultimatum to release 13 students of the University of Lagos who are currently being detained at the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons.
The organisation threatened to relocate its Headquarters to the Prison in solidarity with its members, should government continue to keep them in captivity.
According to reports, the Mobile Court had remanded the 13 UNILAG students in Kirikiri Prisons, pending their bail application on Saturday as they were alleged to have unlawfully invaded the premises of Television Continental (TVC) in Lagos. The students were charged with two counts of unlawful invasion and disruption of activities, and have all plead ‘not guilty’ to the charges.
The accused persons, standing trial before Chief Magistrate P.E Nwaka are Femi Adeyeye, Toni Aina, Kodri Yaya, Asimi Oladime, Ismahim Olalekan, Segun Okesola, Abdulazeez Soneye, Idris Abogunloko, Muyiwa Olaniyi, Toheed Oladimeji, Joseph Akanni, Lukumon Olusegun, and Abiodun Agbeniyi.
The magistrate, who ordered that the accused be remanded in prison, adjourned the case till April 6 for a determination of their bail.
However, President of NANS, Chinonso Obasi, on Monday in Abuja, condemned the action of the court, saying “After a painstaking review of the circumstances surrounding the draconian ruling, we have resolved to 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 if the best the Magistrate could do in the prevailing circumstances was to clamp University students to a prison facility and thereby unwittingly radicalise them, NANS shall help him to understand the implications of his unbalanced judgement that does not tally with the offence allegedly committed.
“Being first-time offenders, the Magistrate, if ever he was once a University student, would have handed down a stern warning and demand of good behaviour instead of sending them to prison for whatever reasons.”
“In saner climes what the Magistrate should have done was to certify that the suspects are bonafide students and release them to their school authorities or student leaders. But rather than factor in the extenuating circumstances of their protest, the Magistrate apparently in a hurry to please some hidden forces, decided to blunt the proper socialisation of 13 Nigerian leaders of tomorrow.” He added.