A democracy-inclined Non-Governmental Organization, Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has condemned the reported killing by soldiers on Monday February 25th 2013 of four students of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, who were protesting poor state of infrastructure as well as the persistent scarcity of clean water and good sanitation in their campus.
HURIWA said the killing, if true, amounts to grave crimes against humanity which must not go unpunished.
HURIWA has therefore called on the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria (NHRC) to immediately commence independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding the deployment of well-armed soldiers by Government to unleash a regime of violence on peaceful protesting students of the Nasarawa state University who were exercising their democratic and constitutional rights including the fundamental freedoms of association and movement to attract government attention to their plight as students.
"This is a sad commentary on Nigeria's democracy and marks a turning point which signposts that Government may be plotting to emasculate the fundamental freedoms belonging to the citizenry that are inherent and inviolable, especially as tension builds up over the excruciating economic condition in Nigeria brought about by corruption and misgovernance by all levels of government in Nigeria", HURIWA lamented.
In a statement jointly signed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA asked the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Onyeagbor Ihejerika to explain to Nigerians the rationale behind the illegal deployment of armed soldiers to quell a peaceful demonstration by unarmed students of Nasarawa state University resulting in their gruesome slaughter and to immediately identify and hand over the indicted soldiers to the relevant law enforcement agency for prosecution in the competent court of law for murder without further waste of time.
"We in the human rights community will be disappointed if the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission fails to use its new found independence and operational power to probe the brutal killing by armed soldiers of peaceful demonstrators in this era of democracy when it was clear that the lives of the soldiers did not come under any threat since the protesting students merely carried placards and fresh tree leaves".
"How come that the Nigeria Police that ought to maintain law and order were not deployed to ensure that the students demonstration went about peacefully and if at any time external hoodlums sabotages the protest then the police can at the worst case scenario use only plastic bullets or water canons to disperse the demonstrators if they turn rowdy and out of control?
"This killing of innocent students, as widely reported by eyewitnesses, should be thoroughly investigated, and any soldier found wanting must be flushed out of the Nigeria Army and prosecuted for crimes against humanity. Enough of this bestiality visited intermittently on civilians by armed soldiers", HURIWA stressed.