A 500-Level Law student of University of Ibadan (UI), Kunle Adebajo, has just been suspended over an investigative story he wrote in 2016, which constructively criticised the management of the school in handling infrastructure.
The investigative piece earned the writer a two-semester suspension. Without doubt, if this is allowed to stand; it will prevent him from going to the Law School and, by extension, militarise the UI campus and cast fear in the hearts of students.
While the management of the Premier University shocked the world with its power show by suspending the innocent student, it is yet to show the fallacies in the controversial article. No case of libel or slander is yet to be slammed on the writer. His offence is clear: he said the truth.
The management under the umbrella of Prof Abel Idowu Olayinka, rather than proving the elements of report wrong, it split up and misused disciplinary action. Is it not repugnant, irrational and illogical that our supposed professors could not interpret deeply an objective work aiming at upgrading the standard of the school? They bagged PhD yet they show us ‘slash and burn’ over a good initiative of Kunle Adebajo.
In 2016, Kunle wrote a detailed investigative story on the poor state of facilities in the university in The Guardian. The story won him plaudits from students and well-meaning Nigerians. He has done nothing than saying the truth and applying the literacy learnt in the school environment. Why will the trainer now subject the trainee to choose between literacy and liberty?
It is on this that I say the suspension is a farce and victimisation. I thought we are no more in military era where leaders resort to dictatorship to cover their maladministration and enforce hardship on people until UI came up to infringe on the press right. The supremacy of the Nigeria Constitution is not respected in Kunle’s suspension.
And wait, what happens to the freedom of the press? Where is the Freedom of Information Law in force? Without doubt, the unspoken message of UI is that, they are above the law and not accountable to the people. This is one of the very clear signs of a bad leadership.
Instead of the school to cover up the shame exposed by the report, its management turned it to game of dirty politics. I personally visited the school last April and I found the state of three Halls of Residence I visited deplorable, depicting what was contained in Kunle’s investigative report.
Judging from the decision of the management, one can blindly conclude that its leadership is treading the path of those that seek power with sole aim of oppressing the people. In fact, a foul play is perceived, giving room for a mischievous charade. The game is simple; they needed to make people shy away from saying the truth and infringe on their rights while protecting their failure.
Also, the action of the school confirmed that there is a great aberration embedded in its decision. It cast fear in our hearts as students and poses danger to the practice of campus journalism. What could be the fate of the people if people administering the University of Ibadan are giving baton of leadership to rule the nation?
There is one thing that must be cleared to the management of UI: the article is a pure constructive criticism and campus journalists are not alone. We are a big family across the nation that uses pen to right the wrong on our campuses. We have many great journalists among us who started as a campus journalist. To gag one of us or meting out punishment unjustly is like killing all of us.
We demand unconditional reinstatement of Kunle Adebajo, so that he could proceed to the Nigerian Law School. I call on all well-meaning Nigerians, journalists in the mainstream media, human rights activists and civil society organisations to support us and save Kunle Adebajo from the unjust treatment by UI for saying the truth. We are not demanding for anything other than the press right and freedom of information.
I believe, without doubt, that the management of UI has a listening ear and they will reinstate the student. I hope that they bow to the supreme law of our land that permits press right