Socialist Workers and Youth League (SWL), finds the armed repression of protesters which led to the killing of 4 students of Federal University of Oye Ekiti (FUOYE), Ekiti state, barbaric and we condemn this brazen display of police brutality unequivocally. This is one killing too much. It demonstrates high intolerance and assault on democratic principles of the people by the Nigeria bosses’ state.
The students of FUOYE on the 11th of September staged a mass protest against the lack of electricity in the two campuses of the higher institution of learning for a long period. The protest was very well organized, peacefully. There was coordination by the students’ union at different locations around Oye Ekiti.
This included staged the venue of an event where Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, wife of the Ekiti Governor was attending a programme. This appears to have irritated the bosses and school management, who see themselves as gods of course. And the Nigeria police who serve them were quick to take to the trigger.
After the protest which ended, around 2pm that day with a press conference, the students dispersed. But in an unruly manner, the police attacked the students on the schools’ campuses. Several of them were arrested, particularly at the Ikole campus. They were meant to serve as ‘scape goats’ for the protest.
Oluwaseun Awodola, the president of FUOYE students’ union made it known that at about 4.00pm, which was after the protest, he was informed that some students were arrested at Ikole Ekiti and they were being brought to Oye Ekiti. He added that while in discussion with the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the state governor, a policeman shot into the air which created confusion, resulting in a chaotic situation.
He further stated that the police is responsible for the death of the students because immediately the violence which was consciously initiated by the police erupted, the policemen commenced shooting sporadically and indiscriminately at students and residents who were scrambling for safety.
All Nigeria students across all institutions of learning, parents and guardians should join us in demanding for the arrest and prosecution of the police personnel who partook in the cruel act of multiple murders.
The Nigeria Police through the PPRO Ekiti Command attempted to spread a different and false narrative so as to criminalize the protesters and their demands. But the footages available have shown that the claim by the police is false. There is a footage that shows police shooting directly at students who were running for safety.
Similarly, there has been a rise in intolerance of the Nigerian state, and particularly the police. Peaceful protests have been targeted. Protesting Shi’ites have been massacred and activists of the Coalition for Revolution (CORE) were repressed across the country on 5 August and an attempt made to stop the CORE symposium in Lagos on 18 August.
The vice chancellor of the institution in reaction to the issue which ensued in the first place partly due to his negligence and failure, shutdown the university and mobilized armed forces to forcefully evict students from the campuses. This is uncalled for in a higher institution of learning. An academic institution would be expected at the very least to express exemplary and progressive character for the larger society and tyranny on campus is not one of elements of a socially progressive character. This is one of reasons why academic institutions have to be democratically run with the representatives of students, and workers on its governing bodies.
The closure of the university will not do anything to resolve the issue. It will rather add to the hardship being experienced by the students. Hence, we demand reopening of the university and also call for serious and concerted efforts to restore electricity back to the campuses. The Power Generating Companies (GENCOs) and Distribution Companies (DISCOs) have been known for failure, particularly the Benin Distribution Company (BEDC) which is behind the black out in Ondo South and some part of Edo state.
The situation in Oye Ekiti further shows that privatization as every other aspect of capitalism is a failure, which throws society into a state of barbarism and violence.
This places a responsibility on us, as working-class people to prevent the bosses and their system from leaching on our democracy, our wealth and our lives. The labour movement should make the killing of these four students a stop on attacks on our democracy by calling for strike action with demands that include freedom for all political prisoners. We need to rise now and defend fundamental human rights.
by Lai BROWN