BY BRIGHT JACOB
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, Lagos Zone, has called on security agencies to caution their men over what it described as “the legitimate protest of students” who have taken to the streets over the prolonged ASUU strike.
In a statement released by its zonal coordinator, Adelaja Odukoya, titled “Need For Extreme Caution, Democratic Civility and Sensitivity In Handling Students’ Protests” and made available to The Point, the Union said it was because of government’s insensitivity to the more than three months old ASUU strike that students were protesting.
Odukoya said the death of any student as a fallout of the protests would be “unconscionable” and “unacceptable”.
“ASUU Lagos Zone wishes to use this opportunity to call on both the Nigerian Army and Police to rein-in their officers with trigger happy disposition towards popular protests, particularly legitimate protest of students. This is in view of the ongoing protests forced upon students who have been out of their classrooms as a consequence of government insensitivity to the more three months old ASUU strike.
“The Army and Police have constitutional responsibilities to protect and not attack, maim or brutalise protesting students across the country. There is more than enough pains, anguish and bloodshed in the land on account of government failure that to allow security indiscretion to cause the death of a single student will be unconscionable and unacceptable,” it said.
The Union commended the students effort noting that they (students) were no longer “passive” and “indifferent” to the proper funding of tertiary education, and this realisation is what angers the government.
ASUU also said it is monitoring the “mass protests” of students across the country and notes that they have been “peaceful, orderly and coordinated.” It urged the Army and Police High Commands to “issue stringent directives of caution to their operatives” and it reaffirmed the rights of citizens to peaceful protest.
ASUU also called for more “organising and collective actions” by various stakeholders in the education sector to achieve victory.
“It is not surprising that a government has been accustomed and happy with students passivity and indifference to the criminal neglect and inadequate funding of our universities cannot but be shocked and angered by the new progressive and constructive awakening of Nigerian struggles to join force with our Union and compel government to live up to it responsibilities for the education of Nigerian youth. This patriotic action of the Nigerian students is highly commendable and gives us hope for our beloved country.
“ASUU is in solidarity with, and have been monitoring the mass protest by students across the country which have been very peaceful, orderly and coordinated. We therefore urge the Army and Police High Commands to issue stringent directives of caution to their operatives who have made two to three attempts at attacking students in order to avoid unnecessary accidents.
“The attempt to crush students with an Army van today at the gate of University of Ibadan (UI) is shameful, condemnable and disgraceful. It seems the security operatives are yet to learn anything useful from the #EndSARS revolts. It cannot be overemphasized that students, like all citizens, have fundamental rights to protest as enshrined in our Constitution.
“ASUU Lagos Zone salutes our students for their steadfastness and resolute struggle to get the Federal Government to adequately fund education at all levels. With more organizing and collective actions, by the students, parents, civil societies and other stakeholders victory will surely come,” the statement ended.