The Take It Back Student Movement has condemned the police action against protesting students of Abia State Polytechnic, Aba.
Some policemen were captured on camera opening fire on the students who were protesting against the alleged rape of an 18-year-old female undergraduate of the school by operatives of the Special Rapid Response (SRS) squad of Abia Police Command.
The teenage student was allegedly taken away from a lodge at Aba and subsequently assaulted.
Reacting, a statement issued by the group’s national coordinator, Damilare Adenola, said the right to protest is a human right that should be upheld by everyone, including the police.
The group condemned the frequent police attacks on protesting students in different parts of the country and called for an end to such acts.
According to the group, the role of police officers in every protest is to ensure that the gathering is protected from infiltrators and secure the protestors against attacks from marauders.
It further urged the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba and the Abia State Commissioner of police, Janet Agbede, to instantly open an enquiry into the incident and bring the officers to justice.
The group wrote: “It is with utter disdain that we received the widely circulating video of police officers directly shooting live rounds at unarmed and peaceful protesting students. From our findings, the students were protesting against an incident of rape of one female student by an alleged police officer.
“First, the Take It Back student movement would like to state the umpteenth time that the right to protest is a human right and additionally, constitutionally guaranteed to all citizens of this country. To this effect, all institution which does not preclude the Nigerian police is constitutionally obliged to respect and protect those expressing this right.
“Let us also remind the general public that by law, the role of the police officers in every protest is to ensure that the gathering is secured from infiltrators and are duty-bound to secure the protesting students against attacks from marauders.
“In any event that however warrants their intervention, they are bound by international standards of policing not to be found with live ammunition so as to prevent reckless killing of protesters. In this case, the reverse is the case, officers of the Nigeria Police could be seen shooting sporadically at students in a manner as to kill.
“This recent trend of extrajudicial killing by members of the Nigeria Police Force is one too many and the TIB student movement finds it condemnable. We are calling on the Inspector General of the police force and the Commissioner of Police of Abia state to instantly open an enquiry into the ugly incident and equally bring the overzealous police officers to justice, so as to save the almost sinking name of the police force.
“Such policemen have no place in the job of protecting the lives and properties of citizens.
“In conclusion, we wish to assure the protesting students that we are always in solidarity with and in support of all students’ struggle against systemic oppression, as education is a right and not a privilege.”
Meanwhile, Abia state governor, Okezie Ikpeazu has directed the State Commissioner of Police, Agbede to investigate allegations of harassment of students and arrest the security agent behind the act.