UNILAG Students Protest Suspension Of MSSN Activities, Want Staff Advisers Removed
Students of the University of Lagos on Wednesday protested the suspension of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria’s branch in the institution by their management.
The protest sprang up few hours after the students had finished observing their early morning prayers in the university’s mosque.
It was gathered that the management of the UNILAG had suspended activities of the MSSN and also dissolved its executives on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 over a petition by a group seeking to be part of the MSSN leadership.
During the protest, the students accused the management of ‘undue’ involvement in their activities.
They also alleged that their freedom of association was imprisoned in the hands of some lecturers identified as Dr. Ismail Musa and Prof. M A Bidmus.
According to them, after the handing over of all the Society’s asset to the staff advisers as ordered by their university management, Islamic activities remained paralysed in the university.
The students, who were armed with placards, marched peacefully from the mosque to the university’s gate and later to the Division of Student Affairs demanding for the restoration of their society (MSSN) and its activities.
Among the inscriptions on the placards displayed by the students are “BringBack our MSSN-UNILAG, we say no to discrimination; return our original MSSN; MSSN is a student body: vested interest Keep off; we demand freedom of association, Dr. Musa keep off from MSSN; DSA, Enough is enough; Let our MSSN-UNILAG live.”
One of the students, who identified herself as Sheriffah explained that the students suspected foul play from members of the committee set up to review the society’s bye-law and decide on the mode of electing new executives.
She said, “Despite turning down the voice of the majority when a congress was called, they still want to impose leaders on us. At that congress which has the presence of Dr. Musa and a representative of the DSA, a motion for the adoption of the reviewed bye-laws was moved. While 23 voted NO to the adoption, 116 voted YES - that the review be adopted. Yet, the two university officials imposed the vote of the 23 students on us.
“We will not allow that to happen this time around. The association is meant for students and not management. We have our legitimate right to make decision provided such decision does not contradict the school rules and regulations.”
On his part, spokesperson for the protesting students, Alaba Ojo, described the suspension of MSSN activities as a tool to deny Muslim students of proper enlightment about their religion.
In his lamentation, he said, “Every group on campus are functioning without the undue intervention of the school management. Why is it MSSN activities that they suspended, why did that happen when fresh students were newly admitted, why didn’t management ask other clubs to subject its constitution to it? It appears to me that the management through our part adviser is trying to deny Muslim students of the right.”
A newly admitted student added, “What I was told was not what I met. I was told that MSSN will help me to grow both in academics and morals but that is not happening. There is no more tutorial classes, welfare, and scholarship for Muslim students. Not even a forum at the faculty level. The painful thing is that some Muslim students have to join churches tutorials and other programmes in the absence of MSSN’s."
Responding to the agitations of the students, the UNILAG’s Dean of Division of Student Affairs’, Prof Gabriel Babawale, assured that a congress would be called to resolve the challenges facing the MSSN in the university.
“The university is supportive of MSSN. Your grievances have been received and we are going to call a congress latest next week Thursday. Hold me responsible if it does not,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Amir (President) of MSSN Lagos, Mallam Saheed Ashafa, urged the UNILAG authorities to stop injustice by giving the students their right.
He said, "For the main time, I wish to put on record that at the onset of this unnecessary saga, we (MSSN Lagos) approached the Vice Chancellor for dialogue and he promised to ensure normalcy is restored not later than January 2016. Well, all efforts to discuss further at the expiration of his promise was restricted by him (VC) and this is March.
"In the interest of justice, integrity and peace, I urge the school authorities to immediately resolve the issue without delay, correct the anomalies being effected in the MSSN bye-law and prioritize decency in their approach. I urge members of MSSN to be law abiding, peaceful in conduct and demand their Rights within the limits of the Law."