MSA DEMANDS JUSTICE FOR JULIANA MARTINS
Over a month since the shooting of Juliana Martins, a 400 level student of mass communication at the University of Benin by Dsp. Emmanuel Oyibo at NPDC Headquarters, Benin City, on 28 October 2021. Nothing fundamentally has been done to address the subject both in terms of an inquiry, the necessary justice, and compensation both for the physical and psychological trauma she had to go through.
Halloween handled by the parties involved is disheartening to state the least. The Niger Delta Student Union (NDSUG) leadership is rather more keen on monetizing the issue without any interest in the real issues involved, which include the right to a peaceful protest; the overall question of holding public officials to account for their misconduct.
This is a saddening indication of the state of student unionism today, which originally should be driven by the quest for justice, through mass agitation and struggle against all forms of oppression as opposed to seeking to negotiate behind the scene to be settled and bribed and make fortunes from the pains and wellbeing of students.
We insist that the shooting of Juliana Martins should be the concern of everyone, even the Uniben Student Union Government and the University’s management. We are alarmed that the University management had not deemed it fit to take up the matter or attempt to plead the case of her student, even when before the law, the University’s management is the parent on the ground. Is this accidental or an oversight. Or that like the Lekki TollGate Massacre on October 20, 2021, it didn’t happen. For an incident that made the front pages of both national and international media, this cannot be the case.
Every unaddressed incident of police brutality, indiscriminate shooting, or killing of innocent citizens only helps to empower a repeat of it. And if we fail to cry against it. It becomes a justifiable pointer that anyone can shoot at anyone and go away with it. Our silence today makes us out to possibly be the next victim.
The NDSUG leadership can not be relied on, it is factionalized and divided against itself and incapable of functioning as an organ to defend the interest of students, and the case of Juliana Martins demonstrates this clearly that it prefers to chase selfish and mundane issues at the peril of the wellbeing of the students.The UNIBEN SUG can therefore not isolate itself from the issue at hand.
Rather it must take up initiatives against the repeated assault unleashed on students’ right to peacefully organize. It must draw inspiration from her recent history following the successful and peaceful protest that ensured that the university reversed itself on the illegal late registration fees. “An injury to one is an injury to all”.
The SUG must take up the case of Juliana Martins both with the school management, apply the necessary pressure that would make her take up the authority’s concern. But this in itself is not enough, student must as well act independently by directing taking up the issue actions with the NPDC management, insisting that they offer a public apology to the victim and Nigerian students and ensure that the necessary compensation is paid to the victim.
However, the MSA welcomes the statements that have been so issued by the SUG and also propose that a petition to protest the shooting be written by the SUG to the IGP and submitted at the Edo State Police Command with the following demands:
1. Independent Panel of Inquiry to include student representatives and workers. This is to ensure those involved in these heinous actions are brought to book, with the right to invite anyone including officials of the Military Hospital, where Juliana Martins was first attended to.
2. All necessary comprehensive medical care and treatment of all scars be provided physically and psychologically for Juliana and other victims of police brutality.
3. End to police brutality Now! Stop the attack of student democratic right to protest and organize.
4. Respect all Rights to Peacefully Assemble and Protest.
5. Right of members of the public to access all records and documents of public actions and activities of public officers, without any restriction or right.
6. Rights of the rank and file of the Police to organize to have a Police Union and struggle for Improved working and living.
7. Nationalization of the oil sector and other key sectors of the economy under democratic control and management of workers and the working masses.
The wider issue of underfunding can also not be ignored, given the prevalence of indigent students, requiring support and scholarship, the MSA also insists that the SUG remains vigilant organizing to oppose any increase in fees, while also demanding the needed funds for the university and democratic management of all such funds.
We are however not unaware that there is the need to point out that the Petroleum Industrial Act ’21 which was in itself the basis for the seminar/workshop the students were mobilized to attend, is in totality an agenda to further enrich the oil companies, both foreign and local oil barons. This is at the expense of the well-being of the working masses, youth, and students from working-class homes whether Niger Delta or any other part of Nigeria.
The working class, youth, and students’ organizations must organize to end the domination and pillaging of our collective wealth by a few, end the rule of Capitalism and its monstrous greed for profit at the very expense of the wellbeing of the people.
We call on those who agree with us to join the MSA as we struggle for the Socialist Alternative program that seeks to nationalize the oil sector and other key sectors of the economy under democratic control and management of a working peoples’ government towards a socialist planned organized society that will place first the interest and wellbeing of the working masses.