The Abuse Of Power By Lautech Para-Militaries

Activities that are against humanity; threats to human life, freedom and the peace of an environment, carried out by individuals or groups is condemnable under the law. The activities of the Paramilitary groups in LAUTECH need to be put under check; these are voluntary organizations with the main objectives of protecting the interests of students- to seek for the Security welfare of the Students, but it is saddened that some of these groups have derailed from their main aims, objectives, goals, visions and missions on our campus.

In as much as the importance of paramilitaries on our campus cannot be overemphasized, the need for caution in their operations will not be out of place. Lately, members of these groups have been alleged of excesses- maiming and brutalizing innocent students- showing off their strengths! These were said by members of the groups, to be mere speculations and false allegations until the worst happened on March 13, 2014, at 1200 Lecture Theatre (polling unit for Faculty of Engineering Students), during the Student Union Government election.

A member of one of the paramilitary groups engaged in what I will call a cruel, callous and inhuman act; an act which should be condemned by all lovers of peace. The fair-complexioned guy in uniform used 'PEPPER SPRAY' on peaceful voters who were peeping into the hall from the window-side, monitoring their votes while other students enters to vote; the guy walked in front of the voters and turned their world into a source of pain. A lot of weird stuff immediately followed; talking about what happened to the voters' bodies immediately after they got hit. Pepper spray took their nervous system out back and beat the holy hell out of it. They writhed in pain!

They gasped as the spray hits the airwaves, causing instant inflammation of the mucous membranes in their throats and noses. The lining of their throats swells- not enough to stop them from breathing, but just enough to make it tough to get their fill of air. Uncontrollable coughing, gagging, and shortness of breath were all they experienced. The stuff also temporarily paralyzes their larynx, making it difficult to speak. Then their mean arterial blood pressure shoots up; blood floods their faces, making it appear as if burned.

Those voters revolted; it took the swift intervention of one of the security operatives at the spot, members of the Union of Campus Journalists, members of the All-Nigeria United Nations Students and Youth Association, (United Nations Student Ambassadors for Peace) and also a one-time President of our Students Union Government, Com. Makanjuola Kazeem (a.k.a STEAM), to quell the bedlam that might have erupted, which will no doubt disrupt the peaceful atmosphere in the environment.

Though a leader of one of the groups who later came to rescue the situation claimed to have warned them (members of his group) not to use such chemical weapon on any student, for it is only meant for them (members of the group) as parts of the chemicals they get familiar and trained with. He also claimed that the chemical weapon has no negative effect on the victims. The substance was again released into the air immediately after the final declaration of the election results.

From my research about the substance called 'Pepper Spray', I found out that it is not a substance which should be used in an environment like oursthe use of pepper spray is dangerous and cruel. Pepper spray, also known as OC spray (from "Oleoresin Capsicum"), OC gas, and capsicum spray, is a lachrymatory agent (a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and temporary blindness) used in policing, riot control, crowd control, and personal self-defense; used against angry protesters, violent attackers who are resisting arrest and threatening physical harm to others; also including defense against dogs and bears. Its inflammatory effects cause the eyes to close, taking away vision.

The effects of pepper spray are far more severe, including temporary blindness which lasts from 15 to 30 minutes, a burning sensation of the skin which lasts from 45 to 60 minutes, upper body spasms which force a person to bend forward and uncontrollable coughing making it difficult to breathe or speak for between 3 to 15 minutes.

In most cases, pepper spray is non-lethal, but it is known to cause irreparable harm. According to researchers; high-dose exposure to pepper spray can produce 'adverse cardiac, respiratory, and neurological effects, including arrhythmias and sudden death'; acute exposure also causes 'nausea, fear and disorientation.' Respiratory responses to the substance include burning of the throat, wheezing, dry cough, shortness of breath, gagging, gasping, inability to breathe or speak (due to laryngospasm or laryngeal paralysis), and, rarely, cyanosis, apnea, and respiratory arrest. Nasal application of it causes sneezing, irritation, and reflex mucus secretion; its inhalation can cause acute hypertension (similar to ammonia inhalation), which in turn can cause headache and increase the risk of stroke or heart attack.

Even when pepper spray isn't inhaled, its effects on the skin and eyes can require hospital attention, causing intense burning pain, swelling, inflammation and redness. It can also damage the epithelial cells of the cornea, causing clusters of surface cells to detach. At the same time one's eye capillaries dilate, which makes one reflexively jam one eyes shut.

Furthermore, some studies revealed that certain situations involving pepper spray can result in more severe effects. For example, if a person is allergic to any of the ingredients in the pepper spray, has asthma, or has a pre-existing heart condition, then the effects of pepper spray may be more severe and in some cases may lead to death. Part of the reason pepper spray is so controversial is that there have been a number of reported deaths where pepper spray was involved. Though the use of pepper spray has never been identified as the sole cause of death in these cases, it has been listed several times as a contributing factor. What would then have happened if any of the victims is allergic to any of the ingredients in the pepper spray, has asthma, or has a pre-existing heart condition? Only God knows!

Psychologically, it effects can cause hyperventilation and a temporary increase in blood pressure. It can also cause fear of the unknown, anxiety and panic to take place. Pepper spray is classed as an offensive/prohibited weapon; for the definition under regulation states "any device designed to be used for the purpose of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person by the discharge therefrom of (a) tear gas, Mace or other gas, or (b) any liquid, spray, powder or other substance that is capable of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person" is a prohibited weapon.

Besides, the Legislation makes it an offence for someone without permit, normally anyone who is not an officer of Police/Correctional Services/Customs/Defence, to be in possession of a prohibited weapon. Possession is illegal for anyone other than police officers, police agents (assistant police officers), security officers of public transport companies and custom officers. Only law enforcement officers may legally carry or possess pepper spray labeled for use on persons. While legal to be carried by anyone, it is against the law if its use causes 'a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person' or harming the environment.

More-so, pepper spray was said by Mohammed Momoh, a Superintendent of Police of the FCT Command, and a Lawyer, Chinanu Onuorah, that it is a weapon and as such may be illegal when found in possession of unauthorized persons. 'It is a type of weapon which is regarded harmful which can only be allowed when used for self-defense like any other weapon. It is only the security agencies that can approve of its possession and use, though some Nigerians carry it secretly for self-defense; but as of now, there is no law backing the possession of pepper spray by non-security personnel/police and private security firms.'

Therefore, using pepper spray irresponsibly can incur criminal and civil liabilityspraying an innocent civilian is a crime. Much like a punch in the face, it would be charged as assault or battery in most jurisdictions. The justifications for using it must either be self-defense from personal injury or an arrest situation, and the force must be reasonable under the circumstances. The use of the substance for any purpose other than self-defense is a crime under the law.

Thus, the paramilitary groups on our campus should be called to order, to avoid the fatality that might cause when next the substance is being used on students; and should be instructed to keep such substance away from other students, for it is harmful to the students and our peaceful environment.

Oluwatomilola Boyinde, TOMI'NIGERIA, PRO, Union of Campus Journalists; & All-Nigeria United Nations Students and Youth Association, LAUTECH. [email protected], @TomiNigeria, 08032434218, 2AF2EB9D.

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Articles by Oluwatomilola Boyinde