By Adesina Wahab
Tuesday September 10, 2019 started like any other day for most students of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, FUOYE, Ekiti State with the students having many things they planned to do.
However, one assignment that most of the students were aware of, and which some had planned to take part in, was a protest against poor electricity supply to their school and hostels. Apart from the main campus in Oye, the university also has a mini campus in Ikole-Ekiti and students on both campuses agreed to the protest.
Ekiti State is supplied electricity by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC, so, the power situation cuts across all the towns in the state.
While the students had fixed their own peaceful protest for the day, the wife of the State Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, who had started a tour of local government areas in the state, also had scheduled a visit to Oye and some other local governments.
Clutching placards with various inscriptions, the students, in Oye and Ikole, besieged the Ado-Ifaki-Oye-Ikole Road, the major road linking the state with Kogi and the northern part of the country. As usual, innocent motorists and road users were victims of the attendant disruption of free flow of traffic.
Mrs Fayemi, who had visited places like Otun-Ekiti and others, was being expected at Oye Town Hall, not far from the road that leads to the main gate of FUOYE. The students reportedly wanted to meet the First Lady to express their grouse.
However, conflicting reports have emanated on what actually happened that led to the shooting by the police. Some said the students were rushing in violent manner to confront Mrs Fayemi, others said they were only shouting and that it was an overzealous securityman in her convoy who triggered the violence by slapping a student leader.
No matter what really caused the violence and chaos that led to the killing of two students, if both sides had exercised restraint and decorum, the ugly situation would not have happened.
Though the students have the right to complain about the services of BEDC through the state’s leadership, they ought to also know that there is need to do that in a decorous manner. Also, BEDC is a private outfit that the state has little power over.
The BEDC could be taken to court by its clients for extorting them without commensurate services provided.
Truth be told, the BEDC has not been having a good relationship with its clients across its operational areas. In Edo State, it is constantly at war with civil society groups and is entangled in a number of litigations now. The solution to that is for it to provide prepaid meters for customers so that they would no longer pay for services not rendered.
Police is your friend, they tell Nigerians, but many policemen in the country are enemies not friends of the people. Nigeria has had more than enough of needless killings by policemen, at road blocks, during peaceful protest, even in people’s homes etc, enough is enough.
Assuming without conceding the fact, if the students were truly unruly in their approach on that fateful day, shooting at them is not the solution. Cutting off the head is not the medicine for headaches.
It is high time our policemen understood that they are to protect human lives not to terminate them. Any of the unruly students could have been arrested, instead of being shot at.
Who will now bring back to life Oluwaseyi Kehinde, a 100-level student of Crop Science and Horticulture and Joseph Okonofua, a 300-level student of Biology Education?
Though the management of the school, led by the Vice- Chancellor, Prof. Kayode Soremekun, has shut down the institution indefinitely, the matter must be thoroughly probed. Whoever is culpable must not be shielded, as the spirits of the dead students are waiting for justice to be done. For now, their families remain inconsolable.