Abia Poly students protest rape of three colleagues by police, non accreditation
Academic activities were put on hold Thursday as students of Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, blocked the Aba/Owerri Road axis leading to the school in protest against what they called failure of the school management to accredit the entire Engineering Department.
The students, who were due to commence their semester examination on Thursday, halted vehicular movement for hours, even as they also protested an alleged rape of three female students by men of the Rapid Response Squad, as well as the non-payment of the salaries of their lecturers, among other issues.
A student of Civil Engineering who spoke with The PUNCH stated that the protest was necessitated by the failure of the school management to accredit the entire Engineering Department.
He added that it was regrettable that after their final exams, they were issued a result under the Department of Building, calling on Abia State Government and the school management to expedite action so as to enable them graduate with results under the Civil Engineering Department.
On the alleged rape by personnel of Rapid Response Squad, a female student of Accounting who did not want her name in print, informed that three students living at an undisclosed lodge around Aba North were “badly raped” and later taken to hospital, revealing that this has been happening unchecked.
Meanwhile, addressing the students in the company of armed military personnel, the rector of the polytechnic, Prof. Kalu Osonwa, said that he received messages that men of the Rapid Response Squad were assaulting the students.
He promised to look into the issues raised, including that of the accreditation of the Engineering Department, among others.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu, has condemned in the strongest of terms, the shooting by some Police officers on Thursday at the Abia State Polytechnic Aba during a protest by students of the institution.
In a Press release by Onyebuchi Ememanka, his Chief Press Secretary, Ikpeazu said that “the action of the Police officers was excessive, uncalled for and could aggravate an already tense situation which could lead to collateral damages.”
“Shooting at unarmed students who were protesting the alleged sexual assault of one of them by a Police officer is against all known and recognised rules of engagement by law enforcement officers who could have employed other means other than deadly force to disperse the protesting students,” Ikpeazu noted.
He also promised that the state government was already looking into the issues.
Governor Ikpeazu urged the State Police Commissioner and the Area Commander in charge of Aba to ensure that the officers who were involved in Thursday’s shooting are identified and disciplined in line with extant Police regulations, while further ensuring that such display of disproportionate force doesn’t happen again.
The Governor further advised the students to be disciplined and avoid taking the law into their hands even while protesting, adding that they must, at all times, exercise restraint when confronted by Police on lawful duty.
The wife of the governor has reportedly visited the victims at an undisclosed hospital, assuring that she would take them to a better hospital and offset the bills
All efforts to contact the Police Public Relations Officer, Geoffrey Ogbonna, proved abortive as his line was not going through.