Friday, 1 March 2013

Army denies killing protesting varsity students

NANS threatens action, NLC urges culprits' arrest, trial
THE Nigerian Army Wednesday denied the allegation that its troops killed any of the students who participated in the riots in front of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, on Monday.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has threatened to stage what it called "Mother of all protests" across the country if the soldiers, who allegedly perpetrated the killing, are not brought to book.
The threat came as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) called for restraint in the use of brute force to curtail peaceful protests in the country.
In a reaction to the allegation, which was published in the media, the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, who spoke with journalists in Abuja, said: "I categorically say that our (Army) troops were not involved. Nigerian troops in Keffi did not shoot any of the students. Our troops were not deployed for peace mission in Nasarawa State. They were deployed for patrol. It is the responsibility of the police to quell riots in Nigeria."
Attahiru also said in order to make the fight against terror part of the focus of its officers, "the Nigerian Army has introduced Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency (CT COIN) training for all officers of the rank of Major and below, in line with its new strategy to increase combat efficiency."
Towards this, various CT COIN trainings will kick off from next month in various training locations, including Kontagora.
NANS President, Yinka Gbadebo, who spoke in Ado-Ekiti Wednesday, said the association would resist any move to protect the trigger-happy soldiers as "unknown soldiers" and appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately set up a committee to investigate the matter.
The students' leader also berated the Nasarawa State Governor Tanko Al-Makura and urged all students to show their annoyance towards him in any public function across the country, until those behind the heinous crime are apprehended.
Mr. Emmanuel Buba Nyam, a 300-level student in the Physics Department and Amina Usman Usuko, a 400-level student of the Department of Geography, were on Monday, February 25, allegedly shot dead by soldiers deployed to Keffi streets when NSUK students were protesting outage and lack of potable water in the institution.
NANS also threatened to take the case to the International Court of Justice if the Federal Government failed to sanction the "trigger-happy" soldiers.
Gbadebo described as incongruous and antithetical to democratic practice, the deployment of soldiers to the streets during students' protest, saying that should have been the constitutional role of the anti-riot policemen.
In a statement  yesterday, the NLC urged the government and school authorities to desist from engaging members of the security forces who "lack the right temperament" to quell protests in schools.
Besides, the statement signed by the Congress's President, Abdulwahab Omar, admonished the government to fish out the soldiers who allegedly shot the students and bring them to book.
According to the Congress, the right to dissent or protest is a constitutional right and not a privilege.

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