Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Civil society organisations, organisers of Occupy Nigeria Season 2, have said they are putting off the protest scheduled for today in honour of Peter Ofurum, a student of University of Port Harcourt who was shot by the police during a protest last Monday.
In a statement jointly signed by the Co-facilitator of the protest, Livingstone Wechie, Chairman of Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO), South-south, Chinedu Uchegbu and seven others, the organisers also said they had been prevailed upon by stakeholders to shelve the protest in order not to overheat the polity.
The statement said: “The aim of the protest remains on four fronts among which are demands that the Federal government immediately resolves the perennial fuel crisis, increased electricity tariff without improved services, incessant fraudulent bank charges and the general economic hardship facing Nigerians currently etc.
“However, following various interventions by stakeholders and supervening developments, the organizers have decided to put the street protest on hold for now. This is due to the plea not to further plunge our people into further hardship from the current biting situation which may trail the protest.
“Most importantly, for the records, a major reason why this protest is been put off is to honour late Peter Ofurum, first class student of Uniport who was part of the Occupy Nigeria planned protest but was killed by the Nigerian police Force just three days to the protest. We believe his death will not be in vain.”
They said they were aware of plans by some interested parties to infiltrate the protest but said they were also prepared to expose the miscreants.
“Although there were reports not withstanding from our intelligence unit of plots to infiltrate the protesters with armed miscreants so as to criminalise the protesters and occasion a stage-managed gun battle with deployed troops leading to the killing of protesters, our resolve remains unchanging as we explore other channels of this same advocacy,” the statement said.
The statement emphasised, “Therefore, in solidarity with the students of the University of Port Harcourt and National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), who were to join in this street protest, we condemn the brutal killing of Peter Ofurum who was until his death, the Faculty President of Management Science Students, shot to death by a Police officer during a peaceful students protest on Monday. Although we hear the police authorities ridiculously denying ever killing anybody as they will always do, we hold jointly the Management of Uniport and the Nigerian Police responsible for this avoidable crisis and the death of Peter Ofurum.”
They reiterated the call on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government to “wake up immediately to resolve this fuel, power and economic problems that have crippled Nigeria and strangulated the socio-economic wellbeing of its citizens thus bringing the country’s life to a terminus, in line with his campaign promises because Nigerians have run out of patience.”
They also said, “An independent Panel of Enquiry should be immediately set up by the federal government to investigate the remote and immediate cause of this avoidable Uniport crisis as well as fish out the police officer that killed Peter Ofurum and bring him to justice so as to cure this dangerous and systemic lies by the Nigerian police authorities who are working hard to turn their crime into a trophy ostensibly.
“That the Management of Uniport led by one Ndowa Lale in exhibiting gross institutional insensitivity in this incident, while it is yet to come out of the Aluu 4 crisis, having blatantly turned down appeals from stakeholders who ab initio intervened to avert this situation, should be immediately suspended from office so to face a probe so it does not compromise or interfere with the expected investigation including its current moves to induce a section of the leadership of the NANS.
“Finally, we condemn the continued incessant arrests and intimidation of student union leaders in Uniport by the Nigerian Police as a result of this incident. The Inspector General of Police and the Rivers State Commissioner of Police are hereby charged to call their men to order to avoid any further unwanted crisis on this issue.”