Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Socio-economic activities in Asaba, Delta State, were on Monday temporarily halted as a result of protest by students over the alleged killing of a 500-level student of Electrical Engineering, University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Nzete Ogochukwu Patrick.
Nzete was said to be returning from church on Sunday when he hit by a stray bullet following renewed hostilities in a communal clash within a quarter of Ogume town in Ndokwa West Local Government Area of Delta State.
As a result, students poured into the streets of the State capital, demanding that those behind the dastard act should be brought to book.
The protest was led by leaders of various students’ bodies including the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS) and National Association of Delta State Students (NADESSTU).
Clad in black attires and armed with placards of various inscriptions, the protesting students said they were further peeved by unconfirmed reports in some quarters that the deceased student was being labelled with a criminal tag and that he was one of those fomenting trouble in the community.
Addressing newsmen after registering their grievances at the State Government House, the president of NADESSTU, Mr Godwin Saturday, lamented that the late Nzete would have graduated this year but for the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
He called on the authorities to find the killers of the final student, as well as immediately put measures in place to adequately address the communal crisis in Ogume town.
On his part, the senate president of NADESSTU, Mr Odogwu Hyascent Ugochi, said the news of the death of Nzete was shocking, insisting that the deceased was not a criminal but a peace-loving youth whom he (Ugochi) had worked closely within the recent past.
Also speaking, the Director of Special Duties of NANS, Zone B, Chika Kessy Ossai, who hails from Ogume, said Nzete’s death was a personal loss.
Ossai maintained that Nzete was not part of those causing trouble and that those behind the lingering communal crisis were known, alleging that the authorities were simply shying away from arresting the suspects.
According to him, the State Governor has so many aides on conflict resolution, yet communal clashes remain a constant feature in the state, adding that the reality has now cast doubt on the capacity of the aides to resolve issues without recording innocent casualties.
Adding his voice to the students’ protest, the Director-General of Revive Africa Initiative, Ugagaoghene Ogheneyole urged both the local and state government to rise above board and restore peace to Ogume town.
‘People cannot continue to hide under the guise of communal crisis and be causing mayhem, and also maim law-abiding and innocent citizens.
‘Nzete was not a criminal, he was not even part of those fuelling the crisis, yet he has become a casualty. Many people have been killed innocently, that is why the government need to act fast to stop these wanton killings of innocent persons in Ogume on account of the crisis,’ he said.