We have been following the developments in the Akwa Ibom State University where one of her students MR. EKPO, INIOBONG ISANG, a 500 level student of the Department of Agricultural Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Akwa Ibom State University, was suspended and consequently expelled from the institution for allegedly making a derogatory comment against the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Emmanuel on the social media.
According to the authority of the institution, the student in question was suspended and consequently expelled from the institution on the premise that “the publication of derogatory and defamatory article on Facebook platform about the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State and Visitor to the University, constitutes a breach of the Matriculation Oath and violation of the University rules and regulations enshrined in the Student Information Handbook”.
While we do not support the use of any platform by any individual in the society to insult any public office holder, we wish to observe that it is not captured within the statutory functions of Akwa Ibom State University to monitor favourable or critical views expressed by citizens on social media about the Governor of Akwa Ibom State. It is our view that the state owned institution should work within her jurisdiction in accordance with the extant law establishing the institution.
Further, Akwa Ibom State University, as a hub of the intelligentsia should canalise her intellectual armoury from her team of professors and erudite scholars to promote academic research, freedom of speech, rule of law and intellectual engagements to proffer solutions to the myriad of problems bedeviling the Nigerian state rather than stooping too low to meddling in such tangential inanities of monitoring comments and posts of citizens on social media.
We commend Governor Udom Emmanuel, for intervening in the case and setting up a 3- man committee to look into the case. We call on the authority of the institution to restore all studentship rights accruable to students of Akwa Ibom State University to the student in question including access into the campus, attendance of lectures and participation in all academic and University activities that every registered student is entitled to, till a court of competent jurisdiction decides otherwise when the student in question is given fair hearing on the case in consonant with his fundamental human rights as enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution which is the supreme law of the land.
In the whole , we advise that the authority of Akwa Ibom State University, should not weep more than the bereaved but should concentrate on her core mandate for which it was established and allow Governor Udom Emmanuel, who is the right person to seek redress on the case to do so if he deems fit, as the authority of the University meddling in such case constitutes a prize specimen of a misplaced priority by the institution.