© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
‘I did not encounter any students or order their shooting,’ replies Ekiti First Lady
By DANIEL Whyte
WIFE of the Governor of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, has denied allegations that she ordered the shooting of students at the Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE) on Tuesday.
Pandemonium erupted as disagreement between officials of the Nigeria Police and students turned violent following a protest over lack of power in the host communities of the institution.
When the dust raised by the violence settled, two students were pronounced dead while two others are currently receive treatment. Shortly after the incident, the First Lady was accused of ordering the shooting of the students.
In a response posted via her Twitter handle, @bisiafayemi, the wife of the state governor denied ever ordering that the students be shot to disperse them.
She noted that the students had concluded the protest before she got to the town and everywhere was peaceful.
“There was no sign of any trouble. We proceeded to the venue of my town hall meeting at the civic center with women in Oye Local Government. The atmosphere was very peaceful, the women were singing and dancing and there was nothing to indicate that anything was amiss,” she said.
The First Lady confirmed that there was disturbance outside the venue of the event and she suspected that students of the federal university, “and possibly infiltrated by local thugs”, had re-grouped and were trying to gain entrance.
She said the security officers prevented this from happening, without stating how this was achieved.
“We finished our program, and by the time we got outside, we found that vehicles from my convoy and those of my guests that were parked outside the venue had been vandalised,” she narrated.
“As we were driving out of Oye town, we encountered at least two roadblocks that the students had mounted to prevent the movement of vehicles. I could see students/thugs throwing stones and large sticks at us as we drove by.
“However, the casualties that were recorded did not take place while I was there. There are eye-witnesses, photographs and video footage to confirm this. There are reports circulating that the crisis occurred because I refused to address the protesting students.”
She described the allegations as “totally false”, reiterating that the students had dispersed before she arrived and she did not encounter the protesters.
“It is possible, as I stated earlier, that the group that came to the venue trying to gain access with sticks and stones in hand might have included local hoodlums, but there was no way of telling the difference,” she said.
“I am scandalised and shocked beyond words to hear that I instructed security officers to shoot at students.”
She also added, “I firmly believe in citizens’ rights to protest on issues of concern” stating that she earlier met “members of a Female Sweepers Association, who were protesting a cut in their monthly salary by the previous administration.
“They wanted me to help them. They were very polite and pleasant.”
“I listened to them and promised to pass on their message to the appropriate authorities. These two protests happened on the same day. If I had met a group of protesting students, as a social justice activist myself, I would have listened to their complaints and addressed them.
“I am deeply saddened that at least one fatality has been recorded. As a mother my heart bleeds. All these students are my children, and no mother prays to weep over their offspring.”
“I extend my sincere condolences to the family concerned, and I wish those who are still receiving treatment a speedy recovery. The Obirinkete Tour has been suspended pending a review of what transpired yesterday,” she concluded.