Gunshots were fired by operatives of the police after students of the Abia State Polytechnic took to the streets of Aba to protest the alleged rape of their colleague by an officer.
John Okiyi Kalu, the state’s commissioner for information, confirmed the development in a statement on Friday.
The students were protesting against the alleged rape of an 18-year-old female undergraduate of the school by operatives of the Special Rapid Response (SRS) squad of the Abia police.
There were reports that some officers had perceived the smell of weed from an off-campus hostel on Wednesday and raided the lodge in question.
It was gathered that they had arrested three male and female students but only five were released, excluding the alleged rape victim.
Students would later storm the streets in protest on Thursday, alleging that the female student, who has now been hospitalised, was raped while in policed detention.
In a video making the rounds on social media, police operatives could be seen close to the university firing gunshots to disperse the protesters.
Abia governor condemns shooting, orders investigation
In a statement signed by Kalu, Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia governor, said the shooting by the police was uncalled for and could aggravate an already tense situation.
“Shooting at unarmed students who were protesting the alleged sexual assault of one of them by a police officer is against all known and recognized rules of engagement by law enforcement officers,” the governor said.
“[They] could have employed other means other than deadly force to disperse the protesting students.”
Ikpeazu also said the state is investigating the cause of the protest which created gridlock along the Aba -Owerri road.
The governor ordered the state police commissioner and the area commander in charge of Aba to ensure that the officers who were involved in the shooting are identified and disciplined.
“Under no circumstances must students confront police officers who are engaged in their lawful duties,” he added.
Godswill Okoro, the director of information of the polytechnic student union government (SUG), said Nkechi Ikpeazu, the governor’s wife, visited the medical facility where the student was hospitalised.
Nkechi also said Vicar Hope, her Foundation, will cover the alleged rape victim’s medical bills as well as ensure justice is done in the case.
The first lady directed that the lady be moved to another medical facility within the state for better care.
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