Striking university lecturers in Minna, Niger State, on December 16, 2013, assaulted journalists who had converged at the campus of the Federal University of Technology (FUT) in Minna to cover an emergency meeting of National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and asked them to leave the venue.
The venue of the meeting had apparently been kept secret but the journalists got wind of it and turned up at the university Senate Building where the meeting was holding, to cover the event and the outcome of the meeting of the lecturers who had been on strike for five months.
But the Chairman of FUT, Minna branch of ASUU, Mr. Abdulfatai Jimoh, ordered the institution’s security personnel to send out the journalists. Mr. Jimoh personally tried to push the Daily Trust newspaper correspondent, Mr. Aliyu Hamagan, out of the venue.
Mr. Jimoh initially thought Mr. Hamagan was a member of the union and invited him to come closer, asking him: “Who brought these stupid people inside? What are they doing here?”
Mr. Hamagan responded: “I am one of the people you are calling stupid. I will not have you insult us like that.”
Thereupon, Mr. Jimoh began to push him, asking him to leave, saying: “You people are intruding. We did not invite you. Get out of this place now.”
Other members of the Union joined Mr. Jimoh in shouting and ordering the journalists to vacate the venue.
It was the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Musbau Akanji, who finally intervened to calm the unfolding fracas. He apologized to the journalists and told the lecturers: “This place (FUT, Minna) is a Federal Government institution and it is a public place that everybody, including journalists, can enter, especially when they are discharging their responsibilities.”
However, Dr. Nasir Fagge, ASUU’s National President, apologized over the incident the next day to “the Nigeria Union of Journalists, especially its members who were reportedly assaulted by some ASUU members during the NEC meeting”.
Dr. Fagge said, “I apologise to you for what transpired yesterday. It is not in our habit to chase away the press … Please whatever transpired between you (the media) and ASUU was not in our nature. On behalf of the NEC and the whole ASUU, I tender an unreserved apology.”