Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Police fire teargas at protesting teachers and students in Abuja

A protest organised today by Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), who have been demanding facility improvements at a range of technical colleges across the country, was disrupted by Policemen who fired teargas at teachers and students and shot live rounds into the air as they tried to disperse the rally. Despite the stand-off, no one was reported injured during the protest.

The march, which the unions said involved about 100 people, began at Abuja's Eagle Square - which is often the site of political rallies - before moving towards the parliament, where organisers had planned to formally present their grievances to lawmakers.

"As we were about crossing the road to the Memorial Arcade, the policemen who barricaded the road started shooting live bullets, tear gas canisters and they are using their water can vehicles to disperse the crowd," Tunde Lawal, a teacher at the rally, told AFP.

He said the security forces had tried to prevent the rally from reaching the National Assembly.

A police officer at the scene, who requested anonymity, described the incident as a "very serious battle."

"It involved the use of everything to disperse the protest" he said, although he added that no one was injured.

Teachers at state-run technical colleges say they have been forced to work in buildings with decaying facilities, and lack the infrastructure and support to teach effectively.

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