From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has cautioned the operatives of the newly constituted joint security outfit in Ogun state, code-named OP-MESA from engaging in undue harassment and oppression of citizens, especially students in the discharge of their duty.
The students’ body said, this became imperative to avoid the repeat of the nationwide #ENDSARS protest as a result of alleged police brutality on youths.
Governor Dapo Abiodun had on Friday launched the security outfit to combat armed robbery, cultism, kidnapping, banditry, killer herdsmen, highway robbery and other criminal activities in the state.
Addressing newsmen on Sunday in Abeokuta, the state capital, the Chairman of NANS, Ogun Joint Campus Committee, Damilola Simeon warned that the creation of the security outfit should not be a license for security operatives to unleash terror on law abiding citizens.
Simeon who commended the governor for setting up the security outfit, disclosed that the leadership of NANS in conjunction with Student Union Governments of tertiary institutions across the state would provide intelligence support for security operatives.
He, however, urged security operatives to consult the leadership of the association and managements of tertiary institutions before carrying out arrest of suspects on campuses and students’ residential areas.
This, the students body said would prevent any form of confrontation of students with security operatives whenever arrests of suspects are being made.
“We are ready to provide the state government with volunteers from the student constituency who will serve as whittle blowers on our campuses. These volunteers will assist in giving first-hand intelligence to security agencies as regards activities on suspected internet fraudsters on our campuses.
“To this end, the leadership of NANS in conjunction with Students’ Union Government (SUG) of all tertiary institutions in the state will be setting a security committee, tagged: “Student Campus Security Committee” to flush out criminally minded students from our schools.
“The committee will work with the newly created OP-MESA and other security agencies in the area of intelligence gathering to rid the state of cultism, kidnapping, banditry, internet fraud and other criminal activities.
“We shall provide the needed support to these security agencies for them to carry out their duties.
“The setting up of the committee also became imperative to serve as one of the machineries to checkmate and curtail the excesses of the OP-MESA and security agencies.
“Like the saying goes: “Absolute power corrupt absolutely”, the experience of the nationwide #ENDSARS protest is still fresh in the minds of Nigerians and the scars left by police brutality are yet to heal, therefore, we will like to urge operatives of the OP-MESA to discharge their duty by not harassing and extorting law abiding citizens, especially students.
“Students will resist any attempt by operatives of the OP-MESA and any security agency for that matter to unduly harass, extort, punish, intimidate and oppress innocent and law abiding students.
“We want to sound a note of warning that, the setting of OP-MESA or financial crimes commission by the state is not a license for security operatives to unleash terror on law abiding citizens. We won’t want a repeat of the ugly #ENDSARS experience.
“We will not also tolerate undue invasion of our campuses and students’ residential areas by security operatives in the name of arresting criminals.
“In as much as we will not condole criminals nor harbour them, we urge security operatives to also liaise with the leadership of NANS and school managements whenever they are going to carry out arrest of criminals on campuses and students’ residential, this we believe will help in preventing altercation between students and security agencies.” Simeon stated.