LASPOTECH,Trade Unions’ Dispute: Soldiers Invade Lambo-Lasunwon Community, Brutalize Students, Put Community Under Siege For Hours
-Cultists attack lecturers, vandalize union’s van, lecturers alleged
-We did not invite soldiers to brutalize our students, says PRO.
For about three hours on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, Shagamu Road, especially frontage of the Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu main campus, and the entire Lambo-Lasunwon community was no-go area as solders militarized the axis and subjected the students to inhumane conditions.
Soldiers from the 174 Battalion from the Odogunyan Army Barracks and those attached to the special military security outfit, OP MESA,stormed the frontage of the institution to disperse the students who were staging peaceful protest against the incessant closure of their school.
After dispersing the protest with force, the soldiers went into students hostels dragging them outside and beat them and also made them to laid in the mud.More so,several students were brutalized while the entire Lambo-Lasunwon community became a ghost town.
The soldiers were seen pursuing the students into their hostel apartments and dragged them out for different kind of punishments. The students were beating and chased round the community as if they were criminals.
The situation caused panic as residents were seen closing their shops and locking their gates. Among students brutalized were Comrade Lawal Dauda, Students’ Union Government, Lagos State Polytechnic, Miss Mofe Ajuwape Mutiu, an HND II Marketing student, Mr Gabriel Temitope, an HND II student of Animal Science and Comrade Gabriel Titilope, the Majority Leader, Students’ Representative Council, SUG LASPOTECH.
Speaking with THE IMPACT, Comrade Lawal stated that he was leading the students in a peaceful protest when the soldiers stormed the scene of the protest and forcefully dispersed them and also brutalized some students in the process .
“We gathered at the school gate this morning (Wednesday) to protest peacefully against the incessant closure of the school and also used the opportunity to appeal to the management, teaching and non-teaching staff to sheathe their swords in the interest of the students.”
“Suddenly, the soldiers came and attacked us and also brutalised some of our students in the process. I was also beating.And when they were not satisfied with the way they forcefully dispersed us, they chased us into the community, going from one building to other, to drag students out and beat them before forcing them to lie in the mud”, the SUG President alleged.
In a phone chat with THE IMPACT, Comrade Sanni Bolaji, Speaker of the LASPOTECH Students’ Union, condemned the treatments meted out to the union’s president and the students.
“We gathered peacefully and some students occupied the main road to call the public attention to what we have been facing for months. But to my greatest surprise, the soldiers just drove dangerously into the students midst without minding what their action might caused”, Comrade Sanni said
“Students were beating and when Mr President (SUG President) approached them to caution them against brutalizing the students, one of the soldiers smatched his gun on his head and before you know it, they started beating him. After that, he was made to lie in the mud with other students and beating severally”, the speaker stated.
“Other students were chased into their homes and dragged out for brutalization. It was a terrible situation. Some of the residents that are not students also fell victim of the soldiers’ brutalization. You will not believe it, the soldiers were shooting directly at us as we were running from them”, the Speaker alleged.
Some students who were in the company of the SUG President also alleged that the school management had called in the soldiers and gave them order to manhandled them.
“The school management is in the know of how the soldiers came in to brutalize us. While we were been beating and brutalized, the school’s Chief Security Officer (CSO) was thumping the soldiers. It was wicked that the school management could subject us to such inhuman treatment”, students alleged.
Speaking with our reporter, a female student stated, “You need to see how we were treated like animals by the soldiers that were supposed to protect us. We have all their atrocities recorded”, she stated.
Another victim of the soldier brutalization is Mrs Oluwafemi, wife of the Welfare Officer of ASUP,LASPOTECH chapter.
Narrating her ordeal to THE IMPACT, Mrs Oluwafemi stated, “I was inside our house when the soldiers barged in and started beating me and my neighbours. My sister and others were also manhandled. Every attempt to explain to them that we are not students fell on deaf hears.”
The woman was later taken to clinic by some members of the school’s staff who came to her rescue after hearing about her brutalization.
While she was been brutalized, her husband too was attacked by some students who were alleged to be cultists sponsored to molest the lecturers opposed to the management.
“We were inside the union(ASUP) bus when some students attacked our bus. It was in the process that one of them, whom I can identify, hit the bus’ rear windscreen which broke and deeply cut me”, Mr Olufemi stated while narrating his experience to reporters during a press briefing organised by the unions after the fracas.(Detail of the briefing in separate story).
The ASUP’s bus was seen with broken rear windscreen and parked within the campus premises afterthe fracas.
While the soldiers were chasing the students, our reporter was also accosted by seven soldiers who threatened him by pointing gun at him and also accused him of being one of the students.
“Hey, where do you think you are going? What is in your bag? You are one of the students causing problems. We are going to deal with you students”,one of the soldiers said to our reporter.
After our reporter explained that he’s an orthopaedic patient and lifted his shirt to show his lumbar support strap, the soldiers, who did not believe him, still threatened to beat him but after about three minutes when our reporter did not sa anything, the soldier,who was in the company of other five colleagues, went their ways.
Seven patrol vans were counted,belonging to soldiers from 174 Battalion, Odogunyan Barracks, OP MESA and Nigerian Police. The soldiers numbered about 30.
Though, the patrol van that conveyed the soldiers to the scene of the incident was not carrying any number plate, one of the OP MESA patrol van has serial number 3 003 and LASG 002 written on its body.
Aside the soldiers, there were also armed men of the Nigerian Police and Civil Defense, who took strategic positions in front of the school.
Soldiers and policemen were also seen accosting students to retrieved their phones and thoroughly checked to ascertain that they did not recordthe video or take pictures of the commando-like invasion. While those without any footage were freed, those with pictures or video were subjected to inhuman treatments.
Our reporter watched as a student was chained to one of the patrol vehicles.
Reaction of the School Public Relations Officer
Meanwhile, in a phone chat with Mr Lanre Kuye, Deputy Registrar/Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Polytechnic,he debunked the allegation that the soldiers were invited by the school management to brutalize the students.
“This students are our children, brothers and sisters and there is no way the management can bring in the soldiers to brutalize them. You should know that 174 Battalion is very close to our school and they usually pass through this road”,Mr Kuye explained
“It was while the students were protesting by blocking the main road that the soldiers intervened. They did not enter our campus. All that happened occurred outside the school where the students were protesting. I personally spoke with some of the students yesterday (Tuesday) to conduct themselves in peaceful manner and not do anything capable of threatening the peace of the society because of the high security situation in Ikorodu.”
“Soldiers drafted to Ikorodu division usually patrol Shagamu road from time to time. In fact, we normally allowed them passage through our school premises from their Barracks to Ijede and other parts of the division. There is no way we would have called them in to intervene in what is internal affair of the school but the moment the students took to the main road, blocking the Shagamu expressway, that was outside our jurisdiction. I can confirm to you that they never enter our campus to molest anybody”,PRO stated.
While reacting to the protest by the three academic and non-academic staff unions, the PRO stated that the school cannot pay without the approval of the state government.
“It is still same agitations and demands that has been on for a while, but the truth is that we(the school management)cannot pay the staff without the approval of the state government. As soon as we get the approval, I can assure you that the management will go ahead and do the needful.”
On the alleged sponsoring of cultists to molest some lecturers by the management, Mr Kuye denied the allegation.“That cannot happen on our campus. The management and staff have fought against cultism in all ramifications and we cannot stoop so low to do that level.”
“This is just a disagreement among members of academic community and there is no how we can go to the extent of employing the services of the outlaws to settle differences. We are building refined students for the labour market; professionals that will be contributing to the economic development of the country and the world and not thugs”, he stated.
He appealed to the staff and students to be calm and give room for peaceful resolution of the situation in the interest of the academic environment and future of the students.
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