By Enyichukwu Enemanna
The Senior Special Assistant to Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu on Students Engagement, has expressed sadness over the killing of Stephen Opaso, a Nigerian Student who was studying in the University of Manitoba, Canada.
Sunday Asefon in a statement in Abuja on Saturday, described the killing as barbaric, cruel and heartless.
The late Stephen Afolabi Opaso, a 19-year-old Nigerian international student in Canada was shot dead by the Winnipeg Police Service in Manitoba on Dec. 31, 2023, a NAN report says.
The deceased was alleged to be wielding a knife at the time of the encounter and had mental health crisis at the time of the incident.
Asefon said he would engage the High Commission of Canada in Nigeria, and further collaborate with Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairperson of NiDCOM to ensure that the unfortunate killing was not swept under the carpet.
The Winnipeg police in their statement, acknowledged the confrontation with an armed male, but provided no further details.
“On Dec. 31, 2023, at approximately 2:22 p.m., the Winnipeg police service responded to an apartment suite in the first 100 block of University Crescent for a 911 call regarding a male acting erratically.
“The caller advised that the male may be armed and there were other people in the suite.
“During this encounter, an officer discharged their firearm, striking the male. Officers provided immediate medical care and ensured the well-being of all other parties on scene. Nobody else was injured.
“The male was transported to hospital in critical condition and succumbed to his injuries,” the police said.
According to Asefon, the impression in the public as gathered during an interaction with the official of the National Association of Nigerian students (NANS) earlier on the case, was that the killing was racially motivated.
He said this was as the demised student was not welding a gun at the time of the incident and that the police officers would have acted differently if he were to be a white.
He therefore appealed to NANS and the entire Nigerian students to remain calm, assuring to follow the case up diligently untill the Canadian authorities gave true account of the death of the Nigerian student.
He said his office would also see to it that the deceased family was compensated accordingly, to avoid a diplomatic row that might lead to the closure of their embassy in Nigeria by Nigeria’s apex student body as earlier threatened.