The police in Akwa Ibom State have arrested three demonstrators and beaten up a number of others for protesting at the gate of the Government House, Uyo, over the non-payment of their late parents’ gratuities by the state government.
Their parents served government, why should they be beaten for asking for their money?
The protesters, who are next of kin of late primary school teachers in the state, were on Monday chased away from the areas around the Government House, as well as the adjoining streets.
An Assistant Commissioner of Police, C. Abibo, was observed giving his officers and men the order to beat up the protesters. More than five policemen descended on the group’s leader, Benjamin Benson, and tore his clothes.
According to Punch, the police also used tear gas canisters and an Armoured Personnel Carrier to disperse the over 100 protesters.
They also threatened to beat up the journalists, who were on the ground, to cover the protest.
The ACP said, “Beat up these people; if you cannot beat them; let me beat them myself.”
The policemen needed no further encouragement as they battered protesters and bundled some into a waiting police patrol van.
The protesters, under the aegis of Coalition of Families: Next of Kin of Late Primary School Teachers in Akwa Ibom State, asked the police to immediately release their colleagues they arrested for demanding their rights.
The spokesman for the group, Aniekan Thompson, said the families of the dead teachers had obtained letters of administration from the court and had been screened by the State Universal Basic Education Board since 2010, which gave them clearance slips for payment.
He added that the police acted in a manner that was unbecoming of officers of the law.
“They beat us up mercilessly, you need to see how they beat and bundled our colleagues – Enobong Kenneth, Benjamin Benson and Utibe – into their vehicle like criminals.
“We asked them for our rights, but the government and the police were accusing us of being sponsored by the All Progressives Congress.
“Ninety nine per cent of us are card-carrying members of the People’s Democratic Party. We belong to different groups that ensured the victory of the present Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel,” he said.
Thompson explained that in 2014, 185 names were authorised to be paid by SUBEB. He said only 42 of the number were cleared to receive their entitlements, adding that out of the 42, only four persons were identified as bona fide next of kin.
He said the government never showed any commitment to the plight of the families, noting that the governor even denied owing them a kobo when he spoke on television a year ago.