Campus Journalists in Obafemi Awolowo University under the aegis of Association of Campus Journalists (ACJ) met with the OAU Students’ Union Public Relations Officer, Ojedokun Emmanuel a.k.a Immanuel Kant over attack on media practitioners on campus.
In a report centralized by the ACJ which reflects on the totality of the discussions that held during the meeting, a host of questions begging answers since the assumption of office of the Central Executive Council of the Students’ Union were presented to the Union through the PRO, Mr Ojedokun Emmanuel.
Some of the questions read thus:
Was it not ACJ that stood as a representative of the entire student body to monitor the activities of the then Electoral Commission as well as work with them to ensure a free and fair election as we have always been known to do?
What crimes have campus journalists committed to provoke such treatments?
And why should individuals who work tirelessly and impartially without a demand for remuneration from any quarter suffer humiliation and rights violation?
What does the Student Union have to hide, what skeleton is in their cupboard?
The PRO has the following as readied responses to our allegations:
• ON THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
If the ACJ and the Student Union are at loggerheads, the grounds – that is the students – will suffer irreparable losses which range from poor and improper flow of information to general trench of misinformation.
Hence, the Union will never infringe forthwith on the rights of any recognised member of the Association of Campus Journalists of which are you and I. If there is anything we want to achieve as an administration, it is to have a symbiotic relationship with the ACJ.
• ON THE ATTACKS
In every society, crises are bound to erupt, however, it is the duty of every Homo sapien to curb such. The SU PRO claims to have seen a variety of propaganda on different pages in line with the alleged threats on the ACJ member bodies that include OAU PEEPS, Lukmon Fasasi Blog (LFB) and WHAT News Agency (NEONATAR BOARD).
The PRO debunked direct participation in the attacks on the recognised ACJ member bodies and vowed to bring those in question to justice if a repetition of such rape of freedom holds. He said that “We will not do ourselves any good if we continue to portray ourselves as a rascal Union.” Hence, subsequent attacks on campus journalists are not welcome. He further admitted being wrong to have challenged OAU PEEPS and LFB to remove posts on their blogs regarding the case on the basis that the concerned parties did not carry out thorough investigations while admonishing them to objectively write and report.
On the Hon Seun case, he submitted that “whoever are involved are members of the Union and should be treated as equals.”
On the NEONATAR eviction, he reveals that he had from the outset promised to swear an oath of silence but had to voice out due to the unnecessary “political colouration”. He iterated that NEONATAR occupied an illegal structure fashioned out of the SUB with the space directly opposite the Sports Director’s office. He also revealed that all occupants were served evacuation letters since a total revamp of the SUB was intended. And he stated categorically that even if any media body has a right or entitlement to such provision, it shall be the mother body of all press outfits and media set-ups on this campus – being the ACJ – to help ease the burden of their responsibilities and accessibility by the student populace.
On the delay or disapproval of permission to mount banners at the SUB, the PRO said such was only subjected to a decision jointly reached by all members of the Union leadership to embark on a massive renovation of the Student Union Building as well as its surroundings. OYAMAG, a registered member body of the ACJ was at the fore of this particular attack just recently and the PRO claims as a revelation that the erstwhile Student Union leadership charged individuals and associations who mounted banners at the SUB and the then constituted Electoral Commission that saw to this present Student Union’s emergence had some of its members levy individuals as well as associations with payments from #10,000 to #20,000 to mount small-sized banners. Consequently, according to him, the Student Union moves to circumscribe the act and stop the misappropriation that emanates from such end.
Let it be declared that our silence must never be mistaken for cowardice or trepidation. We are dogged fighters and never shall we be deterred from speaking the truth or reporting corroborated information to the public at any given place or time.
Thus, to curb such and secure futuristic protection for members of the press of this institution, we hereby submitted that an undertaking shall be signed by the Student Union and the ACJ to safeguard, insure and guarantee the safety, protection, security, freedom of expression and enquiry cum investigation of every recognised and registered pressman at all times without preference or prejudice towards their objective tendencies cum priorities and investigative actions cum reportage. And the Vice Chancellor, The Public Relations Officer, Chief Security Officer, Dean, Division of Student Affairs, Hall Wardens, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non Academic Staff Union (NASU), NAAT, Student Representative Council (SRC), Judicial Council and a crop of others not enumerated shall be copied that:
The ACJ shall operate without fear of prejudice or any form of victimisation from any angle on and off campus.
For transparency conditions and reasons of fair reportage, information and news stories that affect the general well-being of the entire studentry shall be relayed by the leadership of the Student Union through the ACJ to the general campus populace at all times.
The Student Union shall through the ACJ refuse and refute the acknowledgment of any press or media outfit that operates on/for this campus not registered with the ACJ on an annual basis. This has been erstwhile facilitated by the University Management and forthwith supported by the Student Union.
At all campus events, set up by students or outsiders, the ACJ shall never be denied entry for the purpose of coverage and reportage. This in no way exclude any meeting or sitting of the recognised arms of the Student Union Government irrespective of the manner of its call, that is open or indoor.
The ACJ shall be kept abreast of all happenings on campus by the Student Union and forthwith by their own efforts garner information themselves.
The security of the ACJ team must and shall always be guaranteed in so far as they strive for the interest of the University society to inform and notify them at all times.
The SU, in tandem with the TY’s promised transparency and accountability, shall operate a symbiotic and reciprocated relationship with the ACJ in all its dealings at all times.
There shall be the integration of all media setups and press outfits in the ACJ as it is the University’s constituted encompassing body. Hence, the ACJ shall as a constituted authority be responsible for the certification of all student media set-ups and press outfits with a physical-based presence and online-based operations, print and broadcast divisions of the University.
At the time and compilation of this release, the ACJ already had the words of the PRO and we hold them as his bound and obligation to present our submissions to the CEC and validate our requirements as soon as possible.