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UNILAG VC secures release of detained union leaders

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe has secured the release of the detained former Chairmen of the institution’s chapter of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (SSANU), Comrades Joseph Adefolalu and Adekola Adetomiwa, who were on Thursday arrested by the police.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe has secured the release of the detained former Chairmen of the institution’s chapter of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (SSANU), Comrades Joseph Adefolalu and Adekola Adetomiwa, who were on Thursday arrested by the police.

The VC, accompanied by the leadership of the university’s chapter of the non-academic staff unions, visited the office of the Department of State Security (DSS) along CMD Road, Shangisha, to bail the union leaders, who were on Thursday transferred to the office from the Ikeja Division of the State Criminal Investigation Department.

Earlier, addressing the protesting workers in front of the institution’s Governing Council Chamber, Ogundipe expressed regret that the national strike had been allowed to degenerate to the level it is on the campus, saying even against the dictate of his office, he had gone on air to declare support for the striking workers.

The workers, who had assembled in their hundreds on the campus to protest the arrest of their leaders, accused the university management of harassing them since December 4, 2017, when the national strike was declared.

But, the union members did not disrupt the ongoing matriculation ceremony of the new intakes, where a total of 9,204 fresh undergraduate and postgraduate students were successfully matriculated.

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The management of the university had earlier met with the leadership of the unions including the Chairmen of the university’s chapters of National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU), Comrade Sulaiman Lawal and Kehinde Ajibade, among others, to address the crisis.

The VC said; “Dialogue will always be the way out of every crisis because we would always have cause to interact again. There is no other university that has shown support to the striking unions better than UNILAG, yet we are the one that suffers more attack from you. I can assure you that once we leave here, we will go to the Police Station together and ensure that our workers are released.

“If anyone says I ordered the arrest, let me make it clear that I do not have such power but I must add that no one is above the law, including me. On this campus, 120 electrical fuses were removed from the powerhouse on Monday, January 8, and that does not speak well of the unions. We must always reach compromise on difficult issues. We have kept on appealing to the Federal Government to resolve this matter as soon as possible and I am sure very soon, it will be over.”

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The meeting between the unions and the management was attended by the leadership of the Police in the area including the Area Commander.

The union leaders appreciated the university management for the middle ground reached and pledged their support in the efforts to reposition the university for good.

It would be recalled that both Adefolalu and Adekola had on Thursday morning at about 1.30am been arrested in their homes by the Police from the Ikeja Division of the State Criminal Investigation Department.

The unions had blamed the development on the ongoing national strike declared by the Joint Action Committee of the non-academic staff in the universities nationwide, alleging that the decision to arrest the leaders may be in anticipation of likely disruption of the matriculation ceremony, which held today (Friday).

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