The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has cautioned security forces against harassing Nigerians, particularly students, who are protesting the poor state of the nation’s government.
The Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria’s secret police, said in a statement that it uncovered plots by unnamed people in the country to stage violent protests over a variety of socioeconomic difficulties in the country. The student body responded with the warning in a statement.
Earlier, the DSS said in a statement released through its public relations officer, Peter Afunanya, on Monday that intelligence reports indicate that the plotters include some politicians who are frantically rallying youths, disgruntled groups, ethnic-based associations, and student leaders for the planned action.
In response, NANS attacked the DSS in a statement, branding it the government’s propaganda arm for raising the alarm and interfering in matters that had nothing to do with their jobs.
NANS reminded DSS that Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) provides for a right to peaceful assembly and association and that such protest against government actions and misgovernance shouldn’t be construed as violence in the statement signed by its National Public Relations Officer, Comrade Giwa Yisa Temitope.
The student body stated that it is dissatisfied with the unjustified increases in school fees and called on students to attend the demonstration in large numbers.
“We read with utter displeasure a statement issued by the Department of State Security through their spokesperson alleging a plot by some politicians to mobilise student leaders for protest as regards the terrible socio-economic conditions the country has been plunged into.
“In the statement, the DSS was making efforts to deter students from joining protests which is an inalienable right of everyone. It is internationally recognised and domesticated with the provision of Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which provides for the right to peaceful assembly and association.
“Students, and, indeed the Nigerian people must be free at all times to protest whatever they might tag misgovernance of the affairs of the country.
“It is quite embarrassing that the DSS has derailed to the propaganda arm of the Federal Government whereby they raise false alarms and even poke nose in affairs that do not in any way relate to their line of profession. It is indeed saddening that the DSS is today a poster child of unprofessionalism. But it is not a strange trend,” NANS said.
It continued, “As an association, we maintain that we are not satisfied with how the Nigerian society is being run most especially as regards arbitrary fee increment across our tertiary institutions with University of Lagos being a model.
“Indeed, the failure of the management of the University of Lagos to honour the agreements reached at the meeting with them on Wednesday, August 2nd where they agreed to crash the new fee structure and refund students that have paid such has forced the National leadership of the association to fix a date of action at the University of Lagos for September 6th and the protest shall hold till the management reverses the hike.
“And, as against the propaganda being spread around by the Police authority in Lagos for some sort of permit before a protest could hold. It shows a lack of understanding of Nigerian law by the rank and file of officers in the Lagos State Command most especially the highest hierarchy there.
“Students are therefore enjoined to come out en masse and join in the protest for the immediate reversal of fees at the University of Lagos. Aluta Continua!!!”