Some protesting students were on Wednesday injured by the Nigeria Police in Warri, Delta State.
Delta State students studying in tertiary institutions across Nigeria, on Wednesday protested to show their displeasure with the Managing Director of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), Askia Ogieh, for allegedly refusing to pay them their three years bursaries.
Ogieh had in April 2022 resigned his position as Managing Director of DESOPADEC to contest the just concluded Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries for the Isoko Federal House of Representatives but he was defeated.
Surprisingly, he was reappointed on Tuesday by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
The students, who were in their hundreds, brandished placards with different inscriptions such as “Students’ lives matter”, “We need our bursary, education is now expensive”, “Askia has used our money to run his PDP House of Representatives primary”. “Askia paid each delegate N3 million during the PDP house of representatives primary but denied us our rights”, “We need our bursary”, “DESOPADEC is bleeding because of the looting of our commonwealth,” and “Delta politicians have finished DESOPADEC.”
SaharaReporters gathered that the aggrieved students who stormed the headquarters of the commission in Warri, immediately barricaded the entrance gate of the commission, demanding their unpaid bursaries.
However, it was learnt that some of the students were hit with guns and tasered by the police. Many of them reportedly sustained varying degrees of injury during the protest.
It was learnt that the injured protesters were quickly rushed to the hospital.
However, SaharaReporters could not confirm if the condition of the students in the hospital had deteriorated or not.
President of the National Association of Delta Ijaw Students, Comrade Ayigote Festus, who confirmed the incident, told GbaramatuVoice that they notified the police commissioner, Department of State Services (DSS), and the Area Commander in Warri before embarking on the protest.
Festus said even though they promised the police that the protest would be peaceful and not violate any laws, it did not stop the police from using guns to hit students.
He said many injured students were in the hospital.
He said, “Before we embarked on the protest, we informed the Commissioner of Police, DSS, Area Commander, Warri, that we were carrying out a peaceful protest. We told them that we were not going to destroy any property or violate any law.
“We were having conversations with the board on the way out and before we knew it, police had gotten orders to shoot at us. They used teargas on us and used electric gadgets to shock students.
“They also used their guns to hit students. As I’m talking to you now, lots of students are lying in the hospital,” he added.
The spokesman for the state police command, DSP Bright Edafe, told SaharaReporters that nobody was shot, stressing that the students were allowed to protest for more than four hours.
He admitted that the police dispersed the protesters with tear gas, saying they became violent and started attacking the staff members of DESOPADEC.
He said the protesters also blocked a major highway, adding that nobody has the right to block a highway irrespective of their grievances.
“They came and started attacking the workers, were destroying properties, and later blocked the expressway. So they were dispersed with the use of tear gas; nobody was injured to our knowledge,” he said.