Nigerian Students Decry Gag On Freedom Of Expression On Campuses

Nigerian students
Nigerian students

Students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria have cried out against the repression of their freedom of expression by university and polytechnic administrations, saying the trend does not augur well for peace on campuses.

The students said that the rising spate of intolerance to critical comments, opinions and reports by students, particularly student journalists, exhibited by administrators of tertiary institutions was unacceptable and would be resisted.

The students spoke on Tuesday through the National Association of Nigerian Campus Editors NANCE, which said that university authorities across the country are trying to supress campus journalism in their institutions.
President of NANCE, Lukmon Fasasi, at a press briefing at the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile – Ife on Tuesday, said that management of tertiary institutions were clamping down on campus journalists and resisting comments and reports they deem critical.

“No Universities in Nigeria appreciates the existence of campus journalists. We have witnessed victimisation of students for writing stories that seems not to favour school management. Some universities even banned the existence of pen pushers on their campuses. Schools that support campus journalism often do it to suit their interest, especially when campus journalists report only the favourable event in the institution,” Fasasi said.

He lamented that campus journalism is not allowed to thrive freely, adding that in some institutions, students have to publish or circulate their reports at night for fear of victimisation.

The situation, he observed, stifles freedom of expression in the academic environment and encourages lack of transparency and accountability in the administration of tertiary institutions.

Giving an example, Fasasi recalled that a student of the University of Lagos, Adeyeye Olorunfemi, “recently got suspended for four semesters, based on the tackling story he published on his Facebook page against the University of Lagos management.”

“Olorunfemi, who pointed out reason behind Unilag students’ protest and frowned at the decaying state of infrastructure on the university campus, got suspended, just for putting up a Facebook post,” the student journalist lamented.

He said further that five others, all student union leaders, were suspended alongside Olorunfemi, for partaking in the April 6th, 2016 protest on Unilag campus, adding that “it is crystal clear that Olorunfemi’s suspension was based on the published story, as he is the only non-student union leader that got suspended.”

Also speaking at the press briefing, President of the Association of Campus Journalists at the OAU, Olanrewaju Oyedeji, also decried the situation whereby student journalists cannot freely write on happenings in their institutions.

He said that many students are discouraged from practicing journalism on campus because of the intolerance of their institution’s administrators, adding that those who go ahead and engage in any kind of reporting put their education on the line.






     

     

    “Journalism on many Nigerian campuses is not just tasking, but a risky job on its own. Journalists are expected to step on many toes, while carrying out their duties, but when a campus journalist step on someone’s toe in the line of duty, then such a journalist should be ready to face panel of judges of the University,” he observed

    Giving further instances of the victimisation of their colleagues, the students recalled the case of a journalist who got an exclusive story about a lecturer who was seeking sex in exchange for good grades from female students. His report did not see the light of day, it was disclosed, because he was threatened with victimisation.

    The student editors, who held the press briefing as part of events leading to NANCE’s regional journalism workshop which kicks off on September 24 at the Ibadan, said that the training sessions were being organised to equip campus journalist with skills necessary to do their work in hostile environments.

    According to Fasasi, many students who are interested in writing on campuses have asked the students’ editors’ association for help in dealing with the repression of freedom of expression and victimisation by authorities of tertiary institution.

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