Flashback to an unfortunate incident at NSUK By Ofim Kelechi Ofim.

(WARNING PICTURES CONTAIN GRAPHIC CONTENT THAT CAN SHOCK AND UPSET YOU)

The day bullets rained on us- 25/02/2013

°SUG, yet to be reconstituted 4 years after ban
°Immortalise Aminu and Emmanuel

Exactly 4 years today, the gates of Nasarawa State University, Keffi, were swarming with battalions of military detachment from the 177 Brigade sent by yet to be identified person(s), to come and kill unarmed protesting students of NSUK on that fateful morning.

The soldiers who came in trucks, alighted and took positions, as though they were about to confront Al-Shabab or Boko Haram terrorists. They did not hesitate, neither did they give warning. In a flash, they took an unmistakable aim at the protesting and frightened students.

The sound from the discharging guns were a deadly melody, ricocheting and exploding thunderously in our ears. We ducked, shielded our heads and ran aimlessly but the bullets kept raining till they pierced through Aminu Osuko and Emmanuel Buba and instantly they fell face down, and their hearts stopped. Blood gushed and streamed like a river.

Several others bore degrees of gunshot wounds as their flesh were slashed and perforated by the hot lead.

As I write this, my ears still ring from the buzzing of the flying bullets of that day. One of them dropped some inches away from my feet.

Our offence: we dared to exercise our civil right by wanting to bring to the attention of authorities the non-availability of essential amenity-water- for students, especially for those staying off campus. They implied that we had no such rights and alleged that the protesters were in possession of deadly weapons and so, in self defense engaged the students in point blank shooting – a kind of firing squad exercise. They also accused the students of blocking a major highway and in their reasoning, that was “a crime punishable by death!” And in broad day light, under the full glare of many citizens, Nigerian soldiers killed two of our students, injuring many others. Severally others were grief-stricken. It was a dark day!

Till date, no one has been held responsible. Nobody was charged for the brutal killings. There was no compensation to the parents, nothing that I know of from the authorities. Nothing! Everything died with the students.

Like every other atrocities going on around the country, nobody cared.

The only form of punishment was meted to the then Vice Chancellor, Professor Shamshudeen Amali who was sent on compulsory leave/retirement, and then the suspension of the other Principal Officers who were later reinstated.

But the questions that have remained unanswered are: Who sent the soldiers that killed the two students?

Many conspiracy theories abound as to the remote and immediate triggers of the entire episode. These theories are conveniently woven to suit sentiments, in order to perpetually make the truth remain elusive. And we have moved on. The students have been silenced by that deadly stroke.

Although some progress have been made in the direction of making life better for the students in the aftermath of the incident, but more still needs to be done. Grateful, a one million litre water facility was built and donated to the University by SAPETCO Nigeria Limited, and the present management team under Professor Muhammad Akaro Mainoma has been doing very well to address the challenges of infrastructure in the University and in improving the welfare of students. The University has witnessed tremendous development strides in recent times. However, with the challenges of the increasing number of students and the compounding problem of staff welfare, government should make it a priority to urgently address some of the needs of the University. While the effort of the the governor in providing funds for some projects in the University is quite commendable, there must be a deliberate design to expand the infrastructure need of the institution and in the payment of staff salaries.

Federal government under the then President Goodluck Jonathan also released 20 million Naira that was used to sink boreholes and provide water tanks within Campus and students villages.

No doubt that things have improved positively. But the fact that the Students Union Government that was disbanded on the heels of the protest is yet to be reconstituted as promised by the Vice Chancellor, remembering that incident remains a sour memory. At least, reconstitution of SUG can pass for a mild consolation. The Vice Chancellor as a man of honour and an endearing students leader in his days, should urgently make good his promise and put in place, even if a caretaker committee that will wet the ground for a democratic election. This will go down as one of his numerous legacies and definitely will cement his name in the hearts of the students. In fact, the running of the University will be made easier for him if the students body is put in place. The protest of 25th February, 2013 may have been led by SUG, and naturally there are fears of a re occurrence. But then, that fear is less than the fear of the unknown if the institution remains without SUG. Besides, we all learn from history and dialogue has remained a better option in making demands.

While the killers of these students may never be found, it is important that they are not forgotten. They died so that we can have better living conditions on Campus.

Therefore, I propose that the one million litre water facility donated by SAPETCO be named after these two heroes of our struggle.

Let it at least read: “In Memory of Aminu Osuko and Emmanuel Buba”.

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