Civil rights lawyer Femi Lawyer has said that the soldiers involved in Monday’s criminal killing of students of Nassarawa State University should be rounded up and tried in a court martial for conspiracy and murder, and called on the State Government to set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to probe the incident.
In a press statement today in which he joined the growing national condemnation of the killings, he noted that while the Nigeria Army has denied has denied the involvement of soldiers in the murder of the students, it admitted that its armed members collaborated with the Police to restore law and order in Kebbi.
“While the Nigeria Police Force is yet to speak out on its involvement in the brutal killing the university authorities must accept full responsibility for the wanton killing of the students,” Mr. Falana said. “In particular, they should explain to Nigerians why they invited armed soldiers to attack unarmed student protesters. Those who are found culpable should be prosecuted without any delay. He pointed out that under Section 217 of the Constitution it is only the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces who is empowered to deploy members of the armed forces in any part of the Federation in aid of the Police to restore law and order if there is insurrection or mutiny.
As a result, Mr. Falana said that the explanation of Army spokesman Brigadier-General Ibrahim Attahiru that "the soldiers that intervened in the crisis were just on patrol along the Keffi-Akwanga Expressway, which was part of the 177 Guards Battalion patrol routes, before the incident broke out and they waded in to restore normalcy" confirms that the soldiers who attacked the students took the law into their hands by deploying themselves in violation of the Constitution.
“It is a shame that the Army Authorities have come out openly to justify such brazen impunity on the part of armed troops that ought to have called to order,” he said. Falana called on the federal government to stop the increasing militarisation of the country, stressing that even under military rule in Nigeria armed soldiers were never involved in curbing students' protests in any part of the country.
“The excessive use of armed soldiers for routine police duties including the monitoring of elections in a democratic society is a threat to law and order,” he said. “The police should be equipped and trained to maintain law and order while the armed forces are limited to the defence of the country from external aggression and peace keeping operations. They must never again be involved in curbing protests by students and other unarmed Nigerians.”