Students accuse police in Kogi State of highhandedness during protest in Lokoja
The Chairman of the Kogi State chapter of the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), Comrade Usman Attaja has accused the police of inflicting bodily injuries on his colleagues with tear gas canisters during a peaceful protest to register their grievances over the strike embarked upon by tertiary institutions in the state.
He said the incident happened at Ganaja Junction in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital where they had gathered for the protest, adding that they suddenly noticed heavy presence of security agencies, 14 Hilux vans and an armoured tank.
He said the police shot sporadically and fired tear gas into the air, while the students scampered for their dear lives leaving 4 students unconscious and taken to a private hospital.
Addressing journalists at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) press centre, Attaja, who sustained injuries from the stampede, said it was unfortunate that the security agencies who granted them the permission to stage the protest, turned around to attack them like enemies overnight.
He stressed that all they wanted was for the state government and the striking unions to reach a truce that would lead to a reopening of all the institutions.“As I speak with you, students are being trailed by the Police on the orders of the Commissioner of Police just because we were expressing our dissatisfaction over our present predicament. Some of the students are now in hiding and can no longer move freely in the state,” Attaja said.
The protesting students came into the NUJ Press Centre carrying placards with inscriptions: “JAC and Government Open Our Schools,” “Enough is Enough, We Cannot Spend Eight Years for a BSc Programme,” and “We Are Tired of Staying at Home.”
Reacting to the development, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), William Aya denied that the police shot at any student during the protest.
He said the police were only stationed at strategic locations to prevent any breakdown of law and order, adding that the police will not stop a peaceful protest, but said the police will not also condone any disruption of public peace.