Report By Jude Anthony
University management lifts embargo on use of camera phones
NANS writes management, set for a showdown
Alumni group sets up helpline for other tortured students
Since the story on the alleged torture and dehumanizing treatment meted on Stanley Okoye and Ga-lim Aondofa , two students of Madonna University, Akpugo campus broke out, neither the institution officials nor the affected students have rested.
While the university management is making frantic efforts to salvage the image of the university, various stakeholders are also trying to ensure that justice is done an all fronts about the matter.
Though not much has been heard since the invitation extended to the management of the university by the National Human Rights Commission, Abuja, to appear before it over the alleged human rights violations, it was gathered authoritatively that the Management of Madonna University has been trying to review some of its style of administration hitherto seen by many as draconian and high handed.
For instance, the use of camera phones in the university which was earlier termed a serious offence has been unbanned in the campus. An official statement to that effect which was communicated to the students after a general address by the management was also posted in the official website of the university and the personal domain of the General Coordinator of the school, Rev. Fr. Francis Nwachukwu.
The cleric also posted the new directive in his Facebook account where he wrote: “Fr. Francis Nwachukwu Chinwendu, from the university administration, the use of camera phone is now allowed, tell others. Love you all my students”
But while the university management is making efforts to reform its administrative methods, some individuals and groups who spoke said that the only way the management can show commitment to the reforms is to redress the alleged injustice meted on the duo of Stanley Okoye and Ga-lim Lord Aondofa.
To this effect, some concerned alumni members of the university have formed a pressure group and also opened a help line where other victims of any form of human rights violation in the university can make a formal report for attention.
Coordinator of the Madonna University Alumni Pressure Group, Nuel Odoemena in a press statement made available to journalits titled “RE: Alleged Human Rights Violation in Madonna University” , said that they intend to do a follow up petition to National Universities Commission (NUC), National Human Rights Commission(NHRC) and National Assembly . While thanking the reporter that broke the news for bringing the issue into public domain, he noted that the content of their petition to those bodies is for them to look into the activities of school and thereby generate a concrete reform of its modus operandi.
Part of their statement reads: “We sympathize with the concerned students and their families and also commend them for the manner in which they have comported themselves so far. We call on the management of Madonna University to act swiftly to ensure a peaceful resolution of this precarious situation. On our side, a dedicated channel, firstname.lastname@example.org has been set up to receive inputs from all current and past students of this great institution.
“While we are committed to ensuring better conditions for our undergraduates, we use this opportunity to categorically state that this event should not be allowed to repeat itself in our institution. The high handedness and the excessive use of power by security officials in the school premises against students should be curtailed, and decency and decorum are applied in all dealings with students. We wish Stanley Okoye and Lord Ga-lim speedy recovery and we are certain the law will take its course and justice will be served” the statement noted.
NANS Set For A Showdown
Following the shunning of the reconciliatory meeting proposed by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) by the management of Madonna University, the national student’s body says it is set for the mother –of – all- show-down with the institution.
NANS had in a letter signed by its National President, Comrade Tijani Usman Shehu dated August 24, 2015 and addressed to the Vice Chancellor of Madonna University, Prof. Chuks Ezedum protested what they called the “Abduction, maltreatment and dehumanization of two students of the university” and requested for a consultative mission to see how best the issue raised can be addressed.
But when the reporter spoke with the National President of NANS last Wednesday, he said that the university management shunned their invitation and never wrote them a formal acknowledgment letter. He noted that based on the foregoing circumstance, the student body has no other choice than to embark on total showdown with the institution since they have underrated their powers.
He said that NANS remains committed to the welfare of students nationwide and will not relent in the case of the two students to serve as a warning to other institutions who may be taking the students for ride.
Former Student Union Leader Narrates Experience, Makes Case For Meaningful Reforms
A legal practitioner based in Abuja, Peter Nnamdi Nweke has called for a holistic approach in handling the alleged abuses meted on students in Madonna University. Nweke who was former President, Students Union Government (SUG) of Anambra State University, Uli campus narrated his unpleasant encounter with the security officials of Madonna University in 2003.
“It was few months after my election as the SUG President as you might know that Uli , the location of our university and Okija campus of Madonna are in Ihiala local government area of Anambra State. I got the news that my father died and I traveled home. On my way back, I stopped over at Madonna University to inform my friend of the news as well as the burial arrangements. As usual, you will go to their gate and give the name of the person you want to see and they will announce it on the public address system. On arriving at the gate, we parked my official vehicle, L300 Mitsubishi bus which had the inscription “Office of the President, SUG ANSU “at the designated car park for visitors. My friend was called and we met around 12pm.
“I got to where my bus was parked and met over 20 Madonna students who were admiring the bus probably because such student union was banned in the school. I was with my driver and Personal Assistant when suddenly, a Mercedes Benz Wagon carrying five mobile policemen blocked us and requested that we accompany them to meet with their Deputy Vice Chancellor and I agreed.
“On getting there, they alleged that we were cultists that have come to initiate their students and started beating us. I resisted and showed them my identity card and requested that I see the DVC. The fact that the DVC knew me as an altar boy did not in any way assuage them. They took us to police station at Ihiala and on reaching there, the DPO told them that he was at my inauguration but they refused to listen and called their Chancellor. The Chancellor told them to take us to police headquarters in Awka. At the command headquarters, some policemen told us that some students have been in their custody ranging from two to three months at the order of the university authority.
“I immediately reached out to my Vice Chancellor and my fellow executive members in the union. My VC called the Commissioner of Police, while my excos and NANS mobilized hundreds of students to the CP’s office and in a jiffy, over 500 students were protesting at the CP’s office. When the CP realized the truth of the matter, he apologized profusely and asked us not to fight back. It was the final intervention by my VC that quelled what would have resulted to war between two universities in Anambra State. Now that what they do in the university has been blown open, it’s time for a change of strategy” he said.