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Parents of Madonna Varsity students detained over Facebook posts cry out

‘My son had one month to finish NYSC programme when they arrested him’

..as NANS issues school mgt 7-day ultimatum

By Vincent Ujumadu

Awka—Parents of six students of Madonna University, Okija, detained since February over an opinion they posted on Facebook, in which they complained about alleged inhuman treatment in the university, have called for their release.

They made the plea, yesterday, as hundreds of members of National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, blocked the gate of the Federal High Court, Awka, to protest the arraignment of the six students and a lecturer at the instance of authorities of the institution.

One of the Facebook posts read: “Good lecturers are scarce. Madonna University administration should be nice to our lecturers, or a good number of them will resign.”

The detained students were brought to court yesterday, although the court did not sit and were taken back to the Awka Prisons. They were charged for offences bordering on cyber crimes.

Speaking with journalists yesterday, one of the parents of the detained students, Mr. Christopher Onyejekwe, said he had gone 11 times to the Founder of the university, Rev Fr. Emmanuel Edeh, to beg him to free his son, but to no avail.

In an emotion-laden voice, Onyejekwe said: “Fr. Ede arrested my son since February 19 till date and he has insisted that he will not release him, saying he will not release them until they die in prison.

“On one occasion, he told me to go and pray, which I did. After a while, I went to him with three prominent persons, knelt before him begging, but he still refused.

“That was how I stopped going to beg him. They detained these students in Police custody for more than a month before they were taken to Awka Prisons.

“I am begging Governor  Willie Obiano of Anambra State and Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, to please come to my rescue.”

Another parent, Mrs Charity Nnamani, whose son, Chijioke Nnamani, was also accused, said her son was picked on February 4.

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Her words: “My son had a month to pass out from the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, in Asaba when the Police went to pick him on allegation that he is an armed robber, kidnapper and cultist.

“That was what was written in the petition they took to Delta, which made authorities of the NYSC to release him to the Police who brought him to Onitsha and then to Okija.”

Also speaking at the court premises, Vice President NANS, National Affairs, Mr. Chidi Ilozobe, who led the protest, gave authorities of Madonna University one week to withdraw the case, after which they would mobilise students nationwide to shut down the institution.

Ilozobe said: “We came to register our dissatisfaction on how the management of Madonna University is treating our members.

“Sometime in February, we got information that the Police, following a petition written by management of Madonna University, arrested some students of the institution.

“In the petition, they alleged that these students were criminals, cultists and fraudsters. But we know that our members are not kidnappers, fraudsters or cultists.

“However, we decided to investigate the matter, especially when it was understood that the petition was aimed at getting the accused persons out of the NYSC camp.

“We are not in a tyrannical or dictatorship rule and we are not practicing totalitarian system, where the masses have no voice.

“Students are intellectuals and are allowed to voice out whenever they feel that things are not going well, most especially on our campuses.

“We are issuing a seven-day ultimatum to the management of Madonna University, that if this case is not withdrawn within seven days from the Federal High Court, we are assuring them that we will mobilise students from all over the country.”

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