SERAP Drags Amosun to the UN over "Offensive Exam Questions"

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a civil society group has forwarded an urgent appeal to the United Nations special rapporteurs in which they urged the UN to use their position and their office to urge governor Ibikunle Amosu, the governor of Ogun State Nigeria to unconditionally and immediately reverse the action of the governor in unlawfully retiring and sacking officials of the education ministry in the state.

It would be recalled that the governor had sacked these officials for allegedly preparing examination questions that were considred to be critical of the state government headed by Ibikunke Amosun. The governor had immediately sacked some of the workers and sent some other ones on compulsory retirement.

Those who were petitioned are Kishore Singh, who is the special rapporteur on education right and David Kaye, who is the Special rapporteur on the protection and promotion of right of freedom of opinion and expression.

The petition was forwarded on August 14 and it was signed by the Executive Director of SRAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni. The civil organization said the action taken by the state governor in sacking and retiring these officials of the education ministry is in serious violation of the rights of the individuals to their opinion and academic freedom. They further described the action as unfair and unlawful.

According to SERAP, the students writing the examination and the general public has the right to know about government activities and the authorities setting the questions have the right to air their opinions via any means they deem fit as long as they do not violate anyone’s right in doing so.  They said such knowledge made public to the students will set them on right pedestal to positively participate in the state’s political affairs.

The group further stressed that individuals in the state can only enjoy their full rights to education if such a right is fully accompanied by freedom of opinion of the students and the officials of the education sector.  The group insisted that he sack and retirement carried out by the state government is a direct denial of the freedom to transmit, develop and pursue ideas and knowledge via any means they deem fit, including examination questions.

In his words, Adetokunbo Mumuni said “Indeed, academic freedom includes the liberty to express freely opinion about the institution or system in which they work, to fulfill their functions without discrimination or fear of repression by the State or any other actor, and to enjoy all human rights applicable to other individuals in Ogun State.”

The organization believed that the Ogun State government is clearly undermining ability of examiners and the students to make decisions, to openly exercise their rights to information and to influence or challenge any public policy as they deem fit. They insisted that the action of the state government will undermine the will power of the public to monitor the level of quality derivable from public spending towards ensuring government accountability. They claimed this suppression will clearly undermine public control and it will promote abuse of power.                

By Anthony Olawale Ojo

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