The police in Akwa-Ibom, on Monday, brutalised and arrested 11 students from the state studying at the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi in Adamawa state. The students’ offence was that they protested peacefully, at Government House, Uyo, against the recent dastardly killing of their colleagues by armed men in Mubi.
The protesting students, numbering more than 50, had gathered at the entrance of Government House with placards bearing various inscriptions aimed at drawing the attention of the state governor, Godswill Akpabio, to the plight of their fellow students, 46 of whom were killed in their students’ residence in Mubi.
The inscriptions on some of the placards the students carried read: “Our Dear Gov. Godswill Akpabio, come to our aid”, “Akwa Ibom Govt. provide us with admission, Please send rescue team to bring our students, We can’t go back to Mubi”.
In an attempt to disperse the protesting students, who were chanting solidarity songs, the security operatives attached to the Government House shot several canisters of tear gas at them. Some of the students were badly bruised with whips, before about eleven of them were arrested and taken away to unknown destination, while the rest escaped arrest.
The Secretary General, National Association of Akwa Ibom Students (NAAKIS), Mubi Chapter, Iberedem Inyang, lamented the injuries inflicted on some of his association’s members by the security operatives in Government House.
Mr. Inyang, a second year Higher National Diploma (HND) student of Mechanical Engineering at the institution, said that the students were not deserving of the maltreatment they received in the hands of the security operatives, particularly when they were unarmed and conducting themselves in a peaceful manner when they approached the entrance of the Government House.
The student leader said their intention for gathering at the entrance of the Government House was to report their ugly experiences at Mubi to the state governor, as the father of Akwa Ibom citizens. “We never bargained for what we got from the security operatives,” Mr. Inyang lamented.
“If we managed to escape from a place where almost 50 of our colleagues were murdered in cold blood, why would we be subjected to such brutality and even threat to our lives even at home? if we survived death outside our state, why would the security operatives want to kill us in our state?” he lamented.
The student leader claimed that indigenes of Akwa Ibom at Mubi Polytechnic include over 400 students and 20 staff members. He said most of the students that joined the protest lost their property, as they had to escape from Mubi in a hurry. Mr. Inyang said no student from Akwa Ibom was killed in the Mubi massacre, but a few sustained injuries.
The Uyo Area Commander of the State Police Command, Patrick Garba, under whose jurisdiction the incident took place, claimed he was not aware of the attack on the students.
“I am yet to be briefed on the incident. I was representing the Commissioner of Police at a church service to mark the opening of the 2012/2013 legal year of the state judiciary,” Garba said.
On inquiries, Mr. Garba later confirmed that eleven of the protesting students arrested during the march were detained at A Division of the state police command. Reports indicate that the students were later released.
The area commander said that his men had to disperse the students to prevent the gathering from degenerating into a riot capable of threatening the security of the state, adding that those arrested were those that resisted the order of the police to disperse.