Protests in Rivers over alleged unlawful arrests, detentions by Army, Police

Protests in Rivers over alleged unlawful arrests, detentions by Army, Police

Thursday, March 21, 2019 5:48 pm

Students of RSHT, Port Harcourt, massed in protest over arrest of 11 students about 1.30 am on campus b the Anti-Cultism unit of Rivers Police Command.

Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

Social economic activities in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State were grounded on Thursday as law enforcement agencies battle two separate groups of protesters.

A detachment of policemen shot teargas at the students of the Rivers State School of Health Technology, Port Harcourt who staged a peaceful protest barricading the entrance and exit of their school gates over what they termed the invasion of their school at about 1.30 am by the Anti-Cult Unit of the Rivers Police Command.

The Police were invited by school’s authorities to arrest some students over alleged involvement in cultism and other criminal activities on campus.

But the students say that they are protesting because their privacy was illegally encroached upon by the policemen who forcefully barged into the school campus at about 1.30 am and whisked 15 students away unlawfully.

Speaking on behalf of the students, the President of the Students’ Union, Mr Rosary Braide vowed that the protest will persist until the students were released unconditionally.

According to Braide, “Our anger is that nobody was informed before the arrests. Not even the Students’ Union executive was put into confidence. We are not against the law enforcement agencies doing their job and neither do we support cultism and criminality on campus, but are saying that it should be done within the ambit of the law.”

“We are on a peaceful protest, but we were being shot at with teargas and live bullets. Some students collapsed, others sustained injuries during stampede”, Braide said.

A female student said one of the arrested students was recently discharged from hospital after undergoing appendicitis operation while another is my classmate and a final year student who will soon start exams. “They can’t be cultists,” she said.

He averred that if they do not protest the arbitrary invasion of the educational space, then their rights to be free to learn unimpeded by security agencies will be eroded.

Our Correspondent reports that, Police shot teargas at the students even though the protest was relatively peaceful.

Also, today, scores of persons, mainly from Akuku-Toru local government area protested in front gate of 6 Division of the Nigerian Army over alleged arrest of  and continued detention of the Chairman of the Rivers State Government Joint Taskforce on Pipelines and Petroleum, Kenneth Dan Opusugi, who  arrested in Port Harcourt shortly after February 23 Presidential election.

The family of the allegedly detained aide of Governor Nyesom Wike claimed that a subsisting court order asking the military authorities to release Kenneth Opusungi had been served to them.

The 6 Division of Nigerian has previously denied having anyone in custody.

 It is worthy to note that the in February, the 6 Division of Nigerian Army had declared Mr. Rowland Sekibo, Chairman of Akuku-Toru local government Council and Kenneth Opusungi wanted over the alleged ambush and eventual killing of Army Lieutenant wounding of others.

The 6 Division of Nigerian Army was also accused of kidnapping  a PDP chieftain, Tobotamuno Dick, a lawyer and former Caretaker Committee Chairman of Asari-Toru local government, but he miraculously surfaced more than a week after denying being arrested by Soldiers.

Dick claimed that he dived into a River when he was allegedly being pursued by Soldiers and was later rescued by fishermen who kept him inside their camp in the Creeks.

At time of filing this report, it was not clear what the reaction of 6 Division Nigerian Army will be to the protesters.

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