By Josephine Agbonkhese
The Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, has called on the Federal Government to immediately constitute a panel of enquiry for last Friday’s killings at the Federal University, Oye Ekiti, FUOYE, Ekiti State, which led to the closure of the institution.
The group also called on the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, to ensure the immediate arrest and prosecution of the police officers allegedly responsible for the death of two students.
In a statement by Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Chairperson, TMG, following a meeting with the leadership of the Students Union of the institution and the National Association of Nigeria Students, NANS, the group condemned, among other things, the continued threat to democratic space, freedom of assembly and association, and the spate of extra-judicial killings in the country.
It also called for compensation for the families of the late students and the students who sustained injuries, as well as the immediate lift of the ban on the Students Union, arguing that history had shown that proscribing the union of students typically portends danger to the education system.
The statement, which gave a detailed account of the tragedy, read: “TMG condemns the unruly conduct of the police officers who triggered the chaos which resulted in the preventable deaths of two innocent students, Okonufa Joseph, a 300 Level student of Biology Education and Dada Kehinde, a 100 Level student of Crop Science and Horticulture. We, therefore, demand the immediate prosecution of the police officers and other members of the Police Counter-Terrorism Unit, CTU, involved in this unfortunate incident.
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“The reports from the students and other sources revealed that the protest being carried out was peaceful until the President of the Student Union, Awodola Oluwaseun, was physically assaulted by an identified police officer, which is unbecoming of a responsible police officer in a democratic setting.
“The said officer, a member of the Chief Security Officers, CSO, team, has been known for being notorious and brutal with students, and other innocent citizens, according to students at the meeting. We, therefore, call for the immediate arrest and prosecution of this police officer.
“Furthermore, the students observed that despite the assault, the President of the SUG was able to calm the students until when one of the CTU officers fired the first shot; an act that was openly queried by a superior officer present at the scene, before hell was let loose. We affirm that without these acts of provocation by the officers, the situation would have been averted.
“While there are speculations that the wife of the state governor ordered the shooting and eventual killing of the students, the Student Union President said Erelu Bisi Fayemi, the First Lady of Ekiti State, was at the Civic Centre while this was going on and might be unaware of the fracas going on outside the Civic Centre.
“TMG is of the opinion that she, therefore, will not be in a position to order the firing of the students and that it will be in the interest of justice not to implicate anyone, who has no command responsibility for the conduct of the police.
“Rather the incident affirms the growing brutality and use of excessive force by the Nigerian Police, and the entrenched culture of impunity of perpetrators in several parts of the country.”