The Nigerian Police Force used tear gas against the members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Abuja branch, as they mobilise for their protest into the streets of the Federal Capital City, Abuja.
Eyewitnesses said that the lecturers had gathered at the mini-campus of the university at Gwagwalada for the protest when suddenly policemen and plain clothes security personnel took over the entire arena and prevented them from the embarking on the protest.
Dr. Clement Chup, zonal Chairman of ASUU, told the journalists that ASUU forwarded a written request to the Commissioner of Police at Gwagwalada to notify him of their intentions, but all the protesters were shocked when the policemen showed up and prevented them from entering the campus.
Read the press statement of ASUU rep below:
“We, members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU of University of Abuja had actually planned to carry out a peaceful demonstration today (October 30, 2013, Wednesday). What we planned was to have a community marching just to march through some major streets in Abuja, to sensitize the public on the essence of our strike. You will agree with me that the strike that has been on for the past four months now is a cause for worry for everybody. We wanted to tell members of the public we are on strike because the Federal Government have refused to implement the agreement they had with our members since 2009.“But unfortunately when we got to the campus this morning, we were prevented from entering the campus by policemen. When they prevented us from entering the campus we sat down helplessly outside the gate, just chatting and trying to put heads together, the policemen came around and tear gassed us several times to disperse us.“We were wondering why security agents who supposed to provide security for law abiding citizens would turn around and begin to oppress the same people they are supposed to provide security for. It was really a cause for worry, even as they threw over 13 canisters of tear gas at us. Some of us were soaked in the tear gas and one of us who has asthma condition was rushed to the hospital.“We insisted that it is our right, so at the end of the day, we were able to carry out our protest at a point in front of the university gate. When they tried to stop us and they didn’t succeed, they now allowed us to carry out our protest at the gate where we displayed our banners, sang our solidarity song and left”.
Commenting on the rally, the Divisional Police Officer, Gwagwalada, Mr. Tony Okon, said the presence of policemen at the campus, was to protect innocent citizens against hoodlums.
“Shooting of teargas was to prevent hoodlums from joining the protest so that they do not take advantage of the situation and cause any damage” the DPO said.