Students who kidnapped staff face expulsion

October 13, 2000

The senate of Nigeria's Delta State University has unanimously resolved to expel the leaders of the student union who took part in the kidnapping of the university's vice-chancellor, Ovie Igun.

The kidnappers held Professor Igun and Abednego Ekoko, a professor of history and former vice-chancellor of the university, for several days.

Law professor Sam Urukwu said: "We are still shocked at this incident. It is criminal to engage in any kind of kidnapping. We do not breed criminals here. Those found guilty will be shown the way out."

About 1,000 students broke into the men's homes, tied their hands and carried them away. They were released a few days later at Ambrose Alli University, about 300km away in Delta State.

State police said the students had wanted to transfer the professors to the University of Jos, about 800km away, for trial before a students' tribunal at the headquarters of the National Association of Nigerian Students.

The kidnapping was staged as a protest against the dissolution of the student union executive by the university senate as a disciplinary measure after students destroyed property during protests over constant power failures.

All Nigeria's 34 universities have condemned the kidnappings. Jimi Adisa, senior lecturer in the department of sociology at the University of Ibadan, said: "If we allow such criminal acts to persist, then we are heading for anarchy and chaos. Those students involved should be dealt with in accordance with the laws of the land."

Abubakar Ahmed, a lecturer in the law faculty at Bayero University in Kano, commented: "While we recognise the rights of students to demonstrate peacefully against any act of injustice, we condemn any act of violence and indiscipline, especially when members of the academic staff are direct victims of such acts."

Students have increasingly resorted to violence as a means of forcing university authorities to find solutions to their problems. Recently, the vice-chancellor of the University of Nigeria at Nsukka had to flee from his official residence to escape the attacks of students protesting at the lack of water and electricity and the non-payment of salaries to teaching and non-teaching staff.

Religious conflicts have also become violent at universities in northern Nigeria, where Christian students are resisting the introduction of strict Islamic law into student unionism.

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