Call for Condemnation, Solidarity and Protests
Statement of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC)
So far this year, nearly 10 students have been shot dead by the police. Most of the shooting have occurred during students protest. The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has publicly condemned this killing including the latest which occurred at the University of Uyo (UNIUYO) on Wednesday June 12 2013. We are calling on the student movement, trade union movement, socialist organisations and civil society in Nigeria and internationally to speak out against the growing brutal repression of students.
Police in Nigeria still use heavy-handed methods including shooting of teargas and live bullets to disperse protests and demonstrations. Civil crowd-control methods are completely absent in the handbook of the Nigerian police. Despite over a decade of civil rule, policing in Nigeria still wears the brutal and bloody face it wore under military despotism. According to a colonial-era law which, though a court has invalidated, is still being brutally enforced by the police, protesters are to obtain permission from the police before organising a protest. As everyone probably knows, this is not just a harmless law but one carefully planned to make protesting completely impossible.
It should be stressed however that students are not the only victims of police brutality and extra-judicial killing. Many youths especially in poor communities also face on a daily basis police harassment which sometimes results in unlawful detention and the death of the victims.
The killings of students by the police are occurring against the background of decaying public education and the carrying out of more and more cuts in the education budget. The first casualties of police brutality this year were four students of Nasarawa State University. They were gunned down during a student protest on February 25 2013 against poor water and light supply. Despite promises of investigation by government, nothing positive has been heard since then.
The latest killing occurred on June 12 2013 when anti-riot police invaded the University of Uyo and shot at students of the University protesting against extortionate charges and inadequate lecture theatres. In the process, Kingsley Udoette, a 200 level student of Zoology department of the University died after being shot in the stomach. 45 students were arrested and are being detained. Tragically, five officials of the National Association of Nigerian Students(NANS) hurrying to the University the next day to mediate also died in a road accident.
In between February and June, there have been many cases of extra-judicial killings of students by the police sometimes in circumstances different from protest. For instance on February 28 2013, Seyi Fasere, a 400 level student of the Ekiti State University was shot dead by police. He had gone to his hometown Ilupeju to collect his tuition and on his way back, the bus conveying him ran into armed robbers at Oye Ekiti. The driver veered off the road while all occupants disembarked and fled into the bush. Several minutes after the armed robbers had left, the police came, combed the bush and found Seyi Fasere hiding like all others. However, the N100,000 he had collected from his parents for his school fees was found on him and this as far as the Police were concerned was enough evidence that he was an armed robber. He was taken to the police station and reportedly shot dead by a policeman notoriously known as"Akobi Esu" (Devil's Firstborn)!
On 27 May 2013, Ahmed Dayo, an ND 1 student in the Department of Accounting of the Kwara State Polytechnic, was shot inside a cab by Police men escorting a bullion van belonging to a first generation bank. It was reported that the armed police escort stopped the taxi and attempted to shoot its tyre because it was getting too close to the bullion van. Unfortunately, instead of the bullet hitting the tyre, it hit Dayo in the vehicle and damaged one of his legs. Likewise on the same 27 May 2013, Ibrahim Momodu, a student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) was reportedly shot dead by CSP Carol Afegbai, the Divisional Police Officer of Ogida division.
There are also other instances of police violent repression of students’ protests which though did not result in any casualty yet caused serious injury to students as a result of battery, inhalation of harmful teargas fumes, arrest and detention in the cell often without charge. On May 20, 2013, several students of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) were brutalized by the police who came to disperse a protest against decision of the University management to prevent students who had not paid the recently hiked tuition from writing examinations. 10 of them were arrested and locked up in the cell.
The best response to this repression is for students to step up the struggle against anti-poor education policies by calling for national days of action involving coordinated lecture boycotts and demonstrations nationwide.
Whilst four Nasarawa State University students were killed by police in February, the NANS leadership threatened fire and brimstone in the media but calmed down afterwards without taking sufficient political actions. Then the ERC raised the call for solidarity protest on all campuses against the killing as the best response and we indeed organised two such actions at the polytechnic Bida and to media houses in Lagos. But the NANS refused to take up this call even when the killings continued on other campuses.
The police killing and repression are meant to undercut the mood for a fight back present on campuses. All the problems of education (fee hike, underfunding, poor facilities, lack of access etc) are still present and in many cases multiplying. The PDP federal government and the state governments including those governed by opposition parties are jointly taking education out of the reach of the poor with astronomical fee hike. Unfortunately challenge to these ruinous education policies are still fragmented and localised on campuses because NANS is not playing its role. This is why socialists and activists in the ERC attach so much importance to the call for a coordinated campaign starting with a one-day action of students nationwide to protest police repression and all anti-poor education policies. Such a campaign must also raise the perspective for an end to capitalism and for a socialist alternative.
We demand release of all students arrested, meeting of all students demands for reversal of fee hikes, improvement in learning and living conditions and for reversal of all anti-poor education policies, an independent probe panel consisting of elected representatives of students unions, education workers unions and communities to probe the killings, adequate punishment for police officers responsible for the killing of students and also a holistic reform in the Nigerian Police Force that will include democratic control of the police by communities and the labour movement and improved pay and trade union rights for police men and women
The ERC appeals to the trade unions, student bodies, civil society and socialist organisations in Nigeria and internationally to publicly protest the brutal police repression and killings of students by writing protest letters to the authorities in Nigeria. Protest letters can also be sent through Nigerian embassies and you can also send text messages or call the authorities in Nigeria and/or Nigeria embassy to register your displeasure at the brutal repression.
Send protest letters to the following addresses of the National Assembly: email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com or that of the Nigerian police: E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
You can also send short text messages to the following police phone numbers to protest the killings: NPF: 07066228200, IG MD Abukakar: 08059666666, Police DFPRO CSP Frank Mba: 08038375844. Please copy all protest letters to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
You can also organise solidarity actions like protest and demonstrations too within Nigeria and if outside the country, at Nigerian embassies. Education workers unions like the ASUU, SSANU, NASU and the teachers union (NUT) as well as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) particularly have a duty to speak out strongly against police repression and also to organise solidarity actions to support students. Such solidarity from within and outside Nigeria will go a long way in encouraging students not to relent in the struggle against capitalist neo-liberal attacks on public education even in the face of repression.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto
Education Rights Campaign (ERC)
PROTEST LETTER AGAINST POLICE REPRESSION OF STUDENTS
I/we write to condemn the police repression of students in universities and tertiary institutions in Nigeria. The recurrent news of killings of students has become worrisome. We are outraged.
This year alone, nearly 10 students have been either killed in one institution after the other in extra-judicial circumstances. There are also cases of assault on students, illegal arrest and detention, use of teargas and live bullets against students protesters by police under the pretext of maintaining law and order. All of these deaths have occurred either as a result of police shooting at protesting students or through other forms of extra-judicial killings.
For instance on 25 February 2013, four students of Nassarawa State University were killed while protesting against water scarcity and power outage. About 17 students were arrested while the University was shut. Two days after on February 28 2013, Seyi Fasere, a 400 level student of the Ekiti State University was shot dead in extrajudicial circumstances reportedly by a police man notoriously known as "Akobi Esu" (Devil's Firstborn).
Similarly on 27 May 2013, Ahmed Dayo, an ND 1 student in the Department of Accounting of the Kwara State Polytechnic, was shot inside a cab by Police men escorting a bullion van belonging to a first generation bank. Likewise on the same 27 May 2013, Ibrahim Momodu, a student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) was reportedly shot dead by CSP Carol Afegbai, the Divisional Police Officer of Ogida division.
The latest police killing occurred on Wednesday June 12 2013 with the shooting to death of Kingsley Udotte, a 200 level student of Zoology department of the University of Uyo. 45 of the students were arrested and are being detained.
The killings represent another low in Nigeria's dismal record of clampdown on democratic rights. We hold the government and the police authorities responsible for these killings. Not in one of the aforementioned killings has justice been done or any positive results heard from series of investigations promised by the government.
The cause of most of these mindless death of students is government anti-poor education policies which it wants to ram down the throats of students. We stand with Nigerian students and shall give support to their struggle until justice is done in this matter. We condemn the police repression and shall support students efforts to fight for the following demands:
(1) Halt to police repression of students. Withdraw the police and men of the secret services from campuses.
(2) Release all arrested students including 45 UNIUYO students being detained
(3) Setting up of an independent and democratic probe panel composed by elected representatives of students unions, staff unions and the university community to investigate the killings.
(4) Adequate punishment for all police officers responsible for the killings.
(5)Adequate compensation for the families of the students killed by police.
(6) Meeting of all demands of students for reversal of fee hikes, improvement in learning environment and hostel conditions and for provision of modern teaching facilities in all schools and increase in budgetary allocation to at least 26%
(7) Provision of free and functional education at all levels by investing a large chunk of Nigeria's vast oil revenues in public education instead of allowing politicians to loot these monies.
(8) Holistic reform in the Nigerian Police Force that will include democratic control of the police by communities and labour movement and improved pay and trade union rights for police men and women
House of Representatives
The National Assembly Complex
Federal Republic of Nigeria,
3 Arms Zones
P.M.B 141 Abuja FCT
E-mail: Nigeria.firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
The Senate President,
The National Assembly Complex
Federal Republic of Nigeria,
3 Arms Zones
P.M.B 141 Abuja FCT
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org