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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has warned the Nigerian security agencies particularly the Nigerian Army and the police to desist from harassing or shooting students who are protesting the failure of the government to meet the demands of the association.
ASUU had announced a warning strike on February 14 and a month after, extended the industrial action by another two months to allow the government to meet all of its demands. A 12-week extension was announced on May 9.
The academics are seeking improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities and academic autonomy among other demands.
Students of several universities in the country have of recent been taking to the streets to stage a peaceful protest to express their sadness and disappointment over the ongoing strike action by ASUU.
In a statement on Friday signed by the ASUU Lagos Zone Coordinator, Adelaja Odukoya, ASUU warned security agencies not to apply force on the students, especially as it had become a norm for the police force to harass protesters.
The statement reads, “ASUU Lagos Zone wishes to use this opportunity to call on both the Nigerian Army and police to rein in their officers with trigger happy disposition towards popular protests, particularly legitimate protest of students.
“This is in view of the ongoing protests forced upon students who have been out of their classrooms as a consequence of government insensitivity to the more three months old ASUU strike. The army and the police have constitutional responsibilities to protect and not attack, maim or brutalise protesting students across the country. There is more than enough pains, anguish and bloodshed in the land on account of government failure that to allow security indiscretion to cause the death of a single student will be unconscionable and unacceptable.
“This patriotic action of the Nigerian students is highly commendable and gives us hope for our beloved country. ASUU is in solidarity with, and have been monitoring the mass protest by students across the country which has been very peaceful, orderly and coordinated. We therefore urge the Army and Police High Commands to issue stringent directives of caution to their operatives who have made two to three attempts at attacking students in order to avoid unnecessary accidents.
“The attempt to crush students with an army van today at the gate of University of Ibadan (UI) is shameful, condemnable and disgraceful. It seems the security operatives are yet to learn anything useful from the #EndSARS revolts. It cannot be overemphasised that students, like all citizens, have fundamental rights to protest as enshrined in our Constitution.
“ASUU Lagos Zone salutes our students for their steadfastness and resolute struggle to get the Federal Government to adequately fund education at all levels. With more organising and collective actions, by d students, parents, civil societies and other stakeholders’ victory will surely come.”