Saturday , July 2 2022

PERSECUTION AND OPPRESSION OF THE UNIUYO 44 MUST END NOW.

Inibehe Effiong

The Nigerian Students Rights Movement (NSRM) has followed with keen interest the ongoing display of prosecutorial rascality, needless judicial technicalities, managerial arrogance and political recklessness by the authorities in the ongoing farcical trial of the 44 innocent students of the University of Uyo who were arbitrarily arrested by the police mostly from their hostel at Udi Street in Uyo and along the road on June 12, 2013, during the riot in that school.

The police had kept the students in their custody from June 12 to June 19 when they took them before an Uyo Chief Magistrate Court presided over Chief Magistrate Lawrence S. Udonwa, on charges of murder, arson, rioting and malicious destruction. The Chief Magistrate after declining jurisdiction in the matter instead of discharging the students pending proper arraignment at the State High Court issued a committal order remanding the 44 students in the Uyo Prisons and referred the case file to the State Director for Public Prosecution (DPP).

The students had to either bring separate Fundamental Rights Enforcement Applications or Summons to Bail before the State High Court before they could each regain freedom after spending months in prison. However, owing to willfully orchestrated legal technicalities two of the students are spending their 8th month is prison custody while their academics suffer, interestingly the state is vehemently opposing their bail applications even when the other 42 students have regained freedom. Yesterday, Wednesday 15 January, 2014, they returned to prison in tears as their bail applications suffered yet another set-back. They will be back in court again on Thursday 23rd January. They are:

1) Ita Asuquo Essien of the Department of Petroleum Engineering, and

2) David Uko of the Department of Political Science.

Despite all these suffering by the students, the Akwa Ibom State Government through the Ministry of Justice still mindlessly proceeded to file information (charges) at the State High Court, the case was luckily assigned to Justice Joy Unwana- a known fearless judge.

Despite repeated orders by the trial judge that the state should serve the accused persons with the information and necessary court processes, the state has deliberately refused to comply. They have lied to the court that they have not been able to effect service. If this was true during the duration of the ASUU strike, it cannot be true now that the university has resumed and most of the students are around and have been attending the court sessions even without being served. This is because they are ever ready to establish their innocence.

NSRM wishes to state clearly that this is a case of persecution and oppression. It is about the disparity between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the voiceless. The aim is to make scapegoats out of these hapless students in order to cover the leadership failure of both the management of the university who interestingly is being represented in court by a lawyer as complainant on watching brief and the killing of Kingsley Udoette, a student of the university, by the police on June 12. It should be noted that murder is one of the charges against the UNIUYO 44. It will be a historic precedent to see the state prove how 44 people shot and killed one person with one bullet.

NSRM has observed the criminal inaction and conspiratorial silence of messrs ; Timi Ini Ememobong, Yinka Gbadebo, Ubon Marcus and Lucky Imoh Inyang the SA to governor Akpabio on Student Matters and an ex factional NANS President, NANS President, NANS Vice President Special Duties and the SUG President of UNIUYO respectively.

NSRM wishes to remind these quislings who are trading with the blood of Nigerian students that they belong to the wrong side of history. They should cover their heads in shame.

We call on the Governor of Akwa Ibom State who himself is a former student leader to listen to the voice of conscience. We urge the management of the University of Uyo that has gone ahead to surcharge it students for the damaged properties, to learn from history as the peaceful protest of June 12 by it students which was mismanaged was against arrogance, injustice and insensitivity.

The poor parents of these students are paying lawyers through their noses. The students are spending their precious academic time in court instead of concentrating on their studies. This has happen because non of the students have parents, relative or godfather who is a governor, minister, vice chancellor, party chieftain, commissioner or other influential member of the society.

NSRM may soon be forced to call the human rights community, students and the public to the street if this madness is not halted.

The time to act is now.

Sign:
Comrade Inibehe Effiong (National President NSRM and Asst State Secretary of CLO)
inibehe.effiong@yahoo.com

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