The University of Ibadan has suspended a student, Adekunle Adebajo, over a critical article published two years ago where he wrote about poor facilities at the school.
The article entitled “UI: The irony of fashionable rooftops and awful interiors" was published in The Guardian on April 2016.
In the article, the student journalist drew attention to the deplorable state of the facilities at the Nigerian premier university.
The school authorities who were piqued by the article summoned Adebajo to face the disciplinary committee two days after the publication.
In the following months, the student continued to face disciplinary charges which he always defended before he was eventually told he had been rusticated for two semesters at the end of May.
But it was on Friday that the rustication of Mr Adebajo became public, with his colleagues within and outside UI accusing the university authorities of being anti-free speech and oppressive.
“It is true, I was rusticated by University of Ibadan for an article written in 2016. The verdict was made three weeks ago,” said Mr Adebajo on Facebook.
Mr Adebajo, now suspended, is a student of the Faculty of Law where he was rounding off his degree as a 500 level student.
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Idowu Olayinka, described the suspension as an internal matter and noted that the decision could be appealed.
“It is an internal matter of the university,” he said.
“If he has been written to, there is a process of appeal. They cannot be fighting the battle alone on social media.
“The verdict or letter will surely have it that if he is not satisfied with the judgement of the panel. He should appeal. I will advise that he first explores the option of appeal before expressing displeasure on social media,” the professor said.
Students of the institution have registered their displeasure over the verdict which appears to be the latest in a series of moves by the management to stifle critical dissent.
The students union in the school is still banned and its leaders suspended for leading protests against what was considered poor administration by the management including non-provision of identity cards already paid for by students.
Student journalists under the aegis of Free Campus Press Movement have condemned the decision of the university management in a statement on Friday.
The group said, “Not only do we find this strange in the current dispensation of modern terms and in the post-colonial era, we also find it strange that the University failed to observe that this intellectual work did not in anyway abuse or defame any personality nor institution but rather aimed to improve the standard of the University.
“We are deeply disappointed that a university of prestige and calibre like the University of Ibadan will fail to observe that ethics of journalism requires objectivity, we feel the objectivity of Kunle Adebajo was seen as subjectivity by the university management which is appaling.
“In the current age where press freedom is being preached, we find it very disheartening that the University of Ibadan decided to be the premier varsity in suspending campus journalists. We will not fold our arms. we call on all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the university management to rescind the suspension of Mr Adebajo.
“We are embarking on a massive media campaign and social media campaign. We plead with all media stakeholders to support this move, using #FreeKunleAdebajo on social media, and help end this not just for now but for future of journalism in Nigeria.”