Saturday, 3 August 2013

UNIUYO students set VC's office, hostel ablaze (PICTURE)

When Engineering students of University of Uyo (Uniuyo), Akwa Ibom State, staged a peaceful demonstration at the office of the Vice Chancellor, Prof Comfort Ekpo, to address issues about the sudden changes in their transportation from the campus to permanent site, it never occurred to them that hell was only a few steps away.

It was gathered that the students flared up when the school decided that students who intend boarding the school bus from Town Campus to Permanent Site for lectures must part with N200 daily before using the vehicle that was formerly free. There were also grumblings over the registration fee for General Studies courses generally known as GST, which was increased from N500 to N2,000.

Bogged by these issues, the students led a peaceful demonstration to the V.C's office to register their grievances. On reaching there, security officials at the Vice Chancellor's office tried to stop them from gaining access to the office.

The confrontation ignited the fire, as enraged students stoned the officials and went further to block Ikot Ekpene Road. The security officials had no option but to call for back-up which worsened the situation. In the violent confrontation, the police were said to have arrived the scene with over 15 Hilux vans.

The police reportedly opened fire and threw canisters of teargas at the rebellious crowd, which resulted in the death of three students. One of the victims was Kingsley Udoette a 200 level student of the Department of Zoology.

The students also destroyed school property. They set the VC's office on fire, including the schools main gate and one of the hostels. The rampage went on for hours. Some of the students said they were not comfortable with some of polices in the school. Jimoh, a 200 level Agricultural Engineering said that the police who were supposed to calm the situation were the people shooting students.

"We were not armed but the police came with all sorts of ammunition in a peaceful protest embarked by the students," Victor Albert, a final year Engineering student said. Esther Moses, a 300 level Chemical Engineering student, lamented the sudden increase in transportation fare which he said was done without due consultation with the students.

The Chief Security Officer (CSO), Col. Nyong (rted), who was chased out from the campus, admitted that the school brought in a private consultant to handle student transport fare from the town campus to the permanent site but at the rate of N100.

Management staff were said to have escaped through various routes ostensibly to avoid being attacked by the protesting students, and all efforts to reach the Vice Chancellor, Prof Ekpo, for her comments were not successful. Meanwhile, the school has been closed indefinitely. Ibok is a 400 level student, Curriculum & Teaching, UNICAL, while Amos is a 200 level Agric Engineering student, UNIUYO.


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