by Tolu Orekoya
It ain’t over till it’s over for the UNILAG/MAUL students as they fight to retain the name of their alma mater.
Earlier today, protesting students were rapidly dispersed by the police force, sending many fleeing for cover as the police released tear gas into the crowd.
On Tuesday May 29, President Goodluck Jonathan announced the change of name of University of Lagos (UNILAG) in honour of slain political hero Moshood Abiola. The pronouncement immediately sparked unrest on the university campus as the students took to the streets in protest. The students intensified their protest on Wednesday, blocking access to Third Mainland Bridge, a major thoroughfare that links the Lagos Mainland with the islands.
Protests were suspended on Thursday in honour of their late vice chancellor, Professor Sofoluwe who was laid to rest on that day.
In order to maintain order on the campus and calm the unrest, the school authorities announced the closure of the school for two weeks – an order from the school’s senate. Already, the management of one of the female hostels, called Honours Hostel, has cut off power supply to the hostel and told the students to pack their bags and leave the campus.
The student body was, however, divided on continuing the protest today. Some expressed their fears of unsavoury elements infiltrating their ranks, while some were adamant. Earlier this morning, fighting almost broke out in one of the hostels as students disagreed on whether to protest or not. When a few students went to Mariere Hall to mobilize their colleagues, they were greeted with shouts of “Go away!” from some of the residents.
Angry at the response, they tried to force their way through the gate but were barred by the hall’s security officials. Some of them threatened and shouted obscenities at the guards.
The students who went ahead to protest were summarily dispersed as the police fired tear gas canisters into their midst. “Students were trying to overwhelm (policemen), ” according to AFP, when they questioned Lagos Deputy Police Commissioner Tunde Sobulo about the incident.
In an unrelated incident, a Funmi, an English student currently at MAUL fainted and was rushed to the university medical centre for care, according to Premium Times. She is said to be fine.