The Ekiti State Government said on Wednesday that it “has been informed that there might have been casualties” during a students protest on Tuesday.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how at least two students died from gunshot wounds after police officers fired at students protesting the poor electricity situation in their school.
The police, however, claim that the reports of the death were “baseless” and that its officers did not fire the shots. Multiple witnesses, however, confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the shots were fired by police officers who tried to protect the wife of the governor of Ekiti State, Bisi Fayemi.
The state government, on Wednesday, said it would “await more details of this sad development from the school authorities.”
It, however, kept mum on whether or not police officers attached to Mrs Fayemi fired shots and who ordered them to fire the shots.
The killings occurred when the convoy of Mrs Fayemi ran into the protesting students of Federal University, Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE).
The students had stopped the convoy of Mrs Fayemi to express their grievances. The interaction reportedly resulted in a police officer slapping
the FUOYE Students Union President, Awodola Oluwaseun.
The incident enraged the students who tried to attack the police officer and the vehicles; following which the police started shooting sporadically to disperse them, witnesses told this newspaper.
It was in the process that the police bullets hit the students.
Oluwaseyi Kehinde, a 100-level student, and Okonofua Joseph, a 300-level student, reportedly died after they were hit by police bullets in the melee. Mr Kehinde died on Tuesday while Mr Joseph was confirmed dead at the Federal Medical Centre, Ido in Ekiti on Wednesday morning.
Two others students, Azeez Elijah and Olamilekan Abdulmuiz, are presently receiving treatment at an hospital.
The Vice President of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Ojo Raymond, told PREMIUM TIMES that orderlies attached to Mrs Fayemi’s convoy shot at the students.
Many witnesses who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES corroborated Mr Raymond’s narrative.
The residents and students condemned newspaper reports claiming the governor’s wife escaped death.
PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday reported how the state police spokesperson, Caleb Ikechukwu, denied the death of any of the protesters.
When confronted again last night with the name of one of the victims killed, Mr Ikechukwu told PREMIUM TIMES reporter that he would only deal with members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists in Ekiti.
By Wednesday, the News Agency of Nigeria published contents of a statement sent to it by Mr Ikechuwku.
In it, the spokesperson said he was not aware of any death emanating from the students’ protests.
Mr Ikechukwu, a deputy superintendent of police, described the death story as “baseless, unfounded and only intends to incite and create panic in the minds of the peace-loving people of Ekiti and the general public”.
He claimed that a weapon was recovered from one of the protesting students, adding that the quick intervention of the police at the scene prevented further damage to public and private properties.
“The police officers at the scene pacified the protesting students, removed the blockade they erected and dispersed them peacefully.
“However, the protesting students turned around in their numbers and took their plight to Her Excellency, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, the wife of Gov. Kayode Fayemi, who was at an empowerment programme in the town.
“The protesting students suddenly became unruly, hostile and took laws into their hands, and vandalised the motorcade of the governor’s wife.
“The protesting students did not stop at that, they also assaulted the policemen who were at the scene to maintain law and order, and damaged police vehicle found at the scene.
“Investigation is ongoing to bring the perpetrators to book,” Mr Ikechukwu said.
The police kept mum on identifying the officer(s) who shot at the students and who gave them such orders.
The management of FUOYE on Tuesday shut down the university and proscribed the students’ union indefinitely.
The university made the special announcement on a local radio station, Voice 89.9FM.
“Following the unfortunate incident acted out by some youth in Oye Ekiti earlier today, the management of Federal University Oye-Ekiti hereby announce immediate and indefinite closure of the university to forestall further breakdown of law and order.”
“At the same time, the students’ union of the institution is disbanded indefinitely. Following this closure, the students population is hereby ordered to vacate the university premises no later than 10 a.m tomorrow, 11th of September, 2019,” the announcement read.
The university sent its students text messages in the midnight directing them to vacate the school and its environ on Wednesday.
The university spokesperson, Godfrey Bakri, is yet to speak on the death of students.
Convoy of Mrs Fayemi attacked – Ekiti Govt
A statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES by the Ekiti State Commissioner of Information, Muyiwa Olumilua, said Mrs Fayemi’s convoy was attacked while returning from Moba Local Government Area after an advocacy tour.
“The convoy of the Wife of the Governor was attacked with several vehicles vandalised, leaving many people, including journalists, with varying degrees of injuries.”
Mr Olumilua did not say whether anybody was killed during the attack or whether the police did indeed shoot at the students. He, however, said those injured were given first aid treatment or still receiving treatment in the hospital.
“We await more details of this sad development from the school authorities. Nothing is worth the loss of any life,” he said.
“As a responsible government, it is on record that the State Government has been engaging the electricity company (BEDC) on how to improve the power situation in parts of the state, long before this unfortunate incident, and promise to continue to engage them on the improvement of their service delivery to Ekiti State.”
The government also repeated a police stance that ‘hoodlums’ may have joined the students’ protest.
“Whilst acknowledging that the protest might have started as a peaceful one, there was an escalation to violence, possibly due to infiltration by hoodlums,” Mr Olumilua said.
In its reaction, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in a statement signed by its vice president, Ojo Raymond, said the response from the police to the students’ protest is an embarrassment.
The union also condemned media reports of the incident.
“Contrary to the fat lie circulated around by the Punch Newspaper, that the wife of the Governor was attacked, it was not true. Her trip was just a coincidence with the protest of the students.
“As a responsible woman and mother at the corridors of power, it is expected of her to come down to sympathise with the mass of students by addressing them and making a promise to press their demands to the government. Instead, one of her police orderlies alighted from the vehicle and slapped the Union President.
“This singular action which is a violation of the right to dignity of human person spurred the students to demand a peaceful explanation from the police officer who slapped the president”.
The association also condemned the decision of the university authorities to ban students’ union activities.
“The National leadership of NANS hereby emphatically state that FUOYE management has no justification whatsoever to suspend the union, and, we equally use this medium to caution the University management to desist from any act of victimisation of students.
“We demand the immediate arrest and prosecution of the police officer that shot the student and other officers involved by the Inspector General of Police,” the unionist said.