In Nassarawa State University, four students were shot dead by armed soldiers.
The Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has condemned the reported killing by soldiers, on Monday, of four students of the Nassarawa State University, Keffi, who were protesting poor state of infrastructure, especially the persistent scarcity of clean water and good sanitation in their campus.
HURIWA said the killing amounts to grave crimes against humanity and must not go unpunished.
The organization, therefore, called on the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, to immediately commence independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding government’s deployment of armed soldiers to unleash a regime of violence on students protesting peacefully.
The group stated that the students have fundamental democratic and constitutional rights including freedom of association and movement especially as it was in order to attract government’s attention to their plight as students.
“This is a sad commentary on Nigeria’s democracy and marks a turning point which signposts that Government may be plotting to emasculate the fundamental freedoms belonging to the citizenry that are inherent and inviolable especially as tension builds up over the excruciating economic conditions in Nigeria brought about by corruption and misgovernance by all levels of government in Nigeria”, HURIWA said.
In a statement jointly signed by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Director, Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA asked the Chief of Army Staff, Onyeagbor Ihejerika, to explain to Nigerians the rationale behind the illegal deployment of armed soldiers to quell a peaceful demonstration by unarmed students. It asked the Chief of Army Staff to immediately identify and hand over the indicted soldiers to the relevant law enforcement agency for prosecution in a competent court of law for murder.
Part of the HURIWA’s statement reads, “We in the human rights community will be disappointed if the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission fails to use its new found independence and operational power to probe the brutal killing by armed soldiers of peaceful demonstrators in this era of democracy when it was clear that the lives of the soldiers did not come under any threat since the protesting students merely carried placards and fresh tree leaves.
“How come that the Nigeria Police that ought to maintain law and order were not deployed to ensure that the students demonstration went about peacefully and if at any time external hoodlums sabotages the protest then the police can at the worst case scenario use only plastic bullets or water cannons to disperse the demonstrators if they turn rowdy and out of control? This killing of innocent students as widely reported by eye witnesses should be thoroughly investigated and any soldier found wanting must be flushed out of the Nigeria Army and prosecuted for crimes against humanity. Enough of this bestiality visited intermittently on civilians by armed soldiers.”