Fourteen students who were remanded in Kirikiri Prison on the orders of a Lagos Mobile Court last weekend were freed on Thursday as students and activists massed outside the court to demand their freedom.
The students, who were seeking an explanation of the bizarre rustication of a graduated student and a visually-impaired student by authorities at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), were ordered to be arrested by the Dean of Student Affairs, Dr. Ademola Adeleke, on Friday. Lagos State Commissioner of Police Owoseni Fatai claimed that the fourteen students had made a "riotous invasion" of the premises of the Television Continental in Lagos. The Television Continental, however, has since debunked the allegation as fallacious.
After their arrest, the students were hurriedly taken before a Lagos Mobile Court at Oshodi and were then ordered to be remanded in Kirikiri Prison without bail.
Several activists who visited the students at the prison reported that prison officials demanded bribes. They said each individual visitor was compelled to pay N200 each at three separate levels before being allowed to meet with the students.
At the hearing on Thursday, the Lagos Mobile Court was massively attended by students and activists demanding the students' release, but the police had withdrawn their false charges and indicated that they would no longer press charges against the students.
Lawyers on the students' case condemned the unjust remand of the students in prison. Leading the team of the students' lawyers, Barrister Monday Ubani said the Lagos Mobile Court lacked jurisdiction to try the students, adding that their abuse was totally uncalled for.
"This (Mobile Court) is meant to try traffic and environmental offenses, not for claims that students invaded premises of TVC," Mr. Ubani told the court.
The students were consequently freed.