The commissioner, Lagos State Police Command, Mr. Umar Manko, has said that students of the Moshood Abiola University, who are still protesting the change of name of their institution from the University of Lagos, will henceforth be treated as criminals.
Manko said the position was taken since the students have been asked to vacate the school. Manko, who spoke as the students again on Friday attempted to embark on another round of protest, said that with the order closing the school already issued, anyone who violates it can no longer be regarded as a student but a criminal.
He directed policemen on duty at the school not to condone any act of lawlessness. More regular and riot policemen have been deployed to watch over the school and prevent the sort of protest that saw commercial and social life around the vicinity of the school almost paralysed owing to the protest in the last four days.
The protest began shortly after President Goodluck Jonathan announced the change of name of the institution on May 29, 2012 in his Democracy Day broadcast. On Wednesday, the students blocked the ever-busy Third Mainland Bridge, resulting in traffic chaos.
They also blocked all access roads in and around their Akoka, Yaba, campus. On Friday, the policemen deployed to the school used tear gas to disperse those that were gathering to continue with the protest. Some hoodlums reportedly hijacked the protest on Friday, leading to a clash with the policemen.
Meanwhile the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) yesterday advised students of the University of Lagos to see the renaming of the university by President Jonathan as an honour done to the late Chief MKO Abiola.
NANS president Comrade Dauda Mohammed told leadership weekend that it is pathetic that renaming of UNILAG after Abiola could attract such level of criticism despite the fact that the immortalisation of MKO Abiola a hero was long overdue.
According to him, “Having watched the events of the last few days as regards the renaming of the University of Lagos after the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993, election, the late Chief MKO Abiola, the National Association wishes to formally make the position of NANS known.
” It is pathetic that the decision of the federal government to honor Chief MKO Abiola could attract such level of criticism despite the fact that the immortalisation of MKO Abiola who today remains a hero has been long overdue.
“We are convinced that the present democratic experience of our nation is a product of the ultimate sacrifice that Bashorun Abiola with his life in the defence of the enthoment of democracy after being elected president in the freest and fairest election in the nation’s history.”
Comrade Dauda also said is sad that some respected Nigerians could not agree with the decision of President Jonathan that nothing would have been too much to immortalise Chief Abiola who, apart from making the ultimate sacrifice for the enthroment of democracy, was a philanthropist and had immeasurably contributed to every sector of human development in Nigeria particularly the educational sector.
“We want to candidly advise our colleagues at the University of Lagos to humbly align their emotions with our sense of history as a nation and therefore see it as an honour for the great University of Lagos to be named after Chief MKO Abiola. The true identity of any institution all over the world is never in its name but rather in the quality of products that it turns out into the larger society.
“There is no doubt that Mashood Abiola University (formerly UNILAG) is a global brand and this is not in any way connected to its nomenclature alone but rather in its landmark achievements in the various fields.
“May we remind ourselves that the great Uthman Dan Fodio University was formerly University of Sokoto, Obafemi Awolowo University was formerly University of Ife and a host of others across the world whose names have at one time or the other been changed for the strategic reason of immortalising heroes and preserving the sense of history of a given society.
“This does not however diminish the standard of such university as we make bold to say that today, the Obafemi Awolowo University has become a global brand name as far as universities are concerned.
We hereby want to once again appeal to the students to remain calm as we advise the federal government to also engage stakeholders further on the need to see reason for the renaming of the university as a well- meant intention and make every effort at legitimising the decision by forwarding same to the National Assembly for consideration.”
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