Tuesday, April 12, 2016 1:38 pm
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Human rights lawyers have condemned the killing of Peter Ofurum,the newly elected President of the Faculty of the Management Science Students of the University of Port Harcourt.
Ofurum was killed on Monday by yet-to-be identified policemen during a peaceful protest against the increase in school fees.
Ken Atsuwete, a Port Harcourt based human rights said;
“To the best of my knowledge the UNIPORT students were out there for a peaceful demonstration against the hike in school fees.It was peaceful and I personally drove past them.The protesting students themselves were directing motorists where to pass, saying they were on a peaceful protest.
“There was no need for the Police to have come with violence. If there is anything the Police needed to do it is to protect the protesting students from harm,lives and properties and not disperse them.”
Atswuete condemned UNIPORT management for inviting the Police to unleash mayhem on the students in a peaceful protest because we are facing serious economic hardships.
“We are victims of the present economic hardship when the UNIPORT management surreptitiously increase school fees in a situation where salaries of parents have not been paid for months and scarcity of fuel coupled with the harsh economic situation are enough to trigger off protests peacefully just as the students have done.
“Why should the UNIPORT invite members of the anti-robbery squad of the Rivers Police command.”
The human rights lawyer has vowed to institute legal action against UNIPORT and the Police on behalf deceased students.
Also, Anyankwe Nsirimovu, Director,Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law,IHRHL, based in Port Harcourt also condemned the use of brute force to quell a peaceful protest by unarmed students.
The human rights activist called on the Rivers State Command to fish out the trigger happy Policeman that killed Peter Ofurum.
He condemned the idea of killing innocent youths just like the late Dumebi Okonta, a corps member who was killed in Rivers State during the March 19 rerun election.
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) ,Rivers State,has also condemned the unwarranted killing of the student.
In a statement issued by its Chairman, Chika Onuegbu, TUC said: “We are worried that if three unarmed protesting students will be killed in cold blood then there is no guarantee that protesting workers or citizens will not be killed.
“We call on the authorities of the University of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, the Inspector General of Police and the Hon. Minister for Education to as a matter of utmost urgency identify and prosecute those who killed the innocent protesting students.
“We note that students all over the world have the right to protest. And as a matter of fact, the right to peaceful protest is protected by the Nigerian constitution.
“We want to state categorically that if within 14 days our demand is not met, we shall convene an emergency TUC State Council meeting and invite the State Council to take a decision on this matter,including the decision to withdraw the services of all our members in Rivers State.”
TUC appealed to all parents, civil society organisations and people of good conscience to rise up against the unwarranted and cold blooded killing of these students, whose only offence was protesting against the policy of the authorities of the University of Port Harcourt.
TUC went further to state categorically that if the Vice Chancellor of UNIPORT cannot handle a mere student protest, then he should resign immediately.
“Silence in this matter cannot be golden but an actively collaboration with the murderers of the students.”