By Mumini AbdulKareem
The arrest of the sacked sunset teachers last week by the Nigerian Police allegedly under the orders of the Kwara State Government has continued to attract uproar and condemnation by groups and people in the state described it as a violation of their human rights.
Speaking on the issue during a radio Programme, a group, Kwara Stakeholders and Consultative anchored by former SA legislative to Kwara State Government, Hon Ayansola Mohammed said the issue sacked were engaged in a peaceful protest before there were arrested by the police.
According to him, some of the protesters who comprised of pregnant women and nursing mothers were subject to hardship during the protest and some of them were even knocked down by government convoy.
Also in his reaction, the State chairman of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) Comrade Olu Adewara told National Pilot in a telephone chat last night while they union is not pleased with situation, it is however handicapped as a union to act because of the non confirmation yet of the affected staff by the Kwara State Government.
Similarly in its editorial, FreshInsight, an online newspaper condemned the action of the government adding that “Assuming (without conceding) that the protesters violated Covid-19 regulations as made by the federal and state governments, it is worrisome that the police is only waking up to the realization that Covid-19 safety protocols is being flouted during the peaceful protest of the disengage teachers.
“Perhaps Covid-19 regulation lacks the blind nature of law and recognizes certain individuals who to the police are sacred cows”. The paper which further published pictures showing where the State Governor and other top officials in government have breached the protocols even in the full glare of the police officers who sometimes who even don’t even used face masks noted that the protested have been unjustly treated by authorities.
Recall the police, on Wednesday, arrested six protesters for allegedly violating COVID-19 protocols in Ilorin, Kwara State.
The protesters are teachers sacked by the Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq government and were protesting the ongoing exercise for recruitment of new teachers.
National Pilot, last week, reported how the protesters blocked the gate to the governor’s office, demanding their re-engagement before they were arrested.
However, the spokesperson of the police in the state, SP Ajayi Okasanmi, said a woman and five men were arrested for inciting disturbance and violating COVID-19 protocols.
Those arrested are Aransiola Olubukun, Salaudeen Abubakar, Mohammed Soliu, Ibahim Alabi, Isiaka Toyin and Adewale Abdulazeez.
But a Magistrates’ Court sitting in Ilorin on Thursday granted them bail.
They were arraigned before a magistrate court sitting in Ilorin for criminal conspiracy, disobedience of COVID-19 protocols and disturbance of public peace.
They were charged with Criminal conspiracy, disturbance of public peace, inciting public disturbance, disobedience of order duly promulgated by public servant, failure to comply with restriction order imposed by the government.
The offences according to the prosecution were contrary to section 97, 113, 114, 152 (B) of the penal code and regulation 17 paragraph (1) (I) of the Kwara State Infectious diseases (emergency prevention) regulation 2020 and punishable under the same laws.
All the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Police prosecutor, Inspector Adewumi Johnson prayed the court not to grant the Suspects bail because granting them bail might jeopardise the ongoing investigations of the police.
However, the defence Counsel, Barrister Abdullahi Akewusola pleaded with the Court to allow the defendants to be on bail as the offences were bailable, adding that they would not jump bail.
He further told the Court that all the defendants were first offenders who never had criminal records adding that “they have never been in police station for any criminal offence.”
Ruling on the case, the trial Magistrate, Mrs. A.A. Abioye granted the defendants bail in the sum of N200,000 and two sureties each living within the jurisdiction of the court, adding that one of the sureties must be blood relations of the defendants while the other surety must be a civil servant in the state civil service.
The case was adjourned till March 4, 2021 for mention.
By Mumini AbdulKareem