The Southern Kaduna State Peoples Union (SOKAPU) has called for the immediate declaration of a State of Emergency in Kaduna State.
It said that it had been proven beyond doubt that Governor Nasir el-Rufai is incapable of ruling the state without inflicting severe hurt to everything that stands for peace, justice, and progress.
SOKAPU also called on President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly, and the National Human Rights Commission to come to the assistance of Kaduna State.
Mr. Luka Binniyat, spokesman of the union, in a statement called for assistance from the international community, International and local based NGOs and Human Rights Organisations, Civil Society, the clergy, and all men and women of conscience to come together and ensure that justice is obtained for students of College of Education, Gidan Waya, who were arrested when they staged a procession against a shocking hike in the tuition fees of all government-owned tertiary institutions in Kaduna state.
The union then called for the immediate release of the 13 detained students, and compensation paid them for their illegal detention without trial.
The statement noted that on Monday, 28th June 2021, students of Kaduna State College of Education (COE), Gidan Waya staged a procession against a shocking hike in the tuition fees of all government-owned tertiary institutions in the state, including the COE, Gidan Waya.
It explained that the students were not armed. They did not attack any passersby and did not destroy any private or public property, stressing the protest was peaceful and non-violent as collaborated by locals.
The statement stated that going by the reports available to them, the military and other security personnel stationed in Gidan Waya had already appealed to the students to stay calm and find ways of relating their grievances to the right authority, adding that it was then that a battle-ready contingent of combined armed troops of soldiers, mobile police and operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) landed and started molesting the already upset students. In the process, live bullets were used on them.
According to the statement, as the dust settled, one student lay dead after being aimed at and shot in the heart while three other students were rushed to the General Hospital Kafanchan, where one of them died a few hours later. It named the students Emmanuel Nathan and Abas Zakari, both of them 100 level students of the school.
It lamented that after the shooting, the troops went berserk arresting students; they could grab about 13 students of the school, four females and nine males.
It explained that some of the students said that they were in their rooms when their doors were broken into, beaten up, arrested, and hauled into a waiting van and then driven to Kafanchan Area Command of the Nigeria Police Force some 18km away.
The statement added that the arrested students had spent 48 hours without trial and bail, saying that they are told that the arrested students are undergoing torture and may be moved to Kaduna, where they may be charged for murder.
It noted that the intolerance of the Kaduna State Government to peaceful protest against its anti-people actions and policies is already documented in its misadventure with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) after el-Rufai’s desperate attempts to stop its peaceful protest against mindless mass sack of its members failed in May 2021.
It added that in Kaduna State University (KASU), as a means of disallowing any form of disagreement against the hike in school fees by over 500%, parents are made to sign an undertaking that should their wards be involved in any protest against the school fee hike, they would summarily be dismissed from the university. Such is the extent to which the Kaduna State Government can gag its citizens against a suppressive and exploitative policy.
The statement expressed dismay that Governor Nasir el-Rufai has become beyond reproach and defies every wise counsel on reducing tension and crisis in the state due to his anti-citizens policies, precipitating poverty, and record level insecurity, among other negative developments under his government.