2 injured as soldiers, Ambrose Alli University students clash

Heavy duty truck set ablaze close to the university gate. PHOTO: BANJI ALUKO

TWO students of the Edo State-owned Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, on Monday sustained gunshots injuries following an attempt by soldiers to disperse students of the institution, who were protesting increase in their school fees.

Following the incident, the senate of the institution immediately announced indefinite suspension of academic activities and informed the students on campus to vacate their hostels before 4:00pm.

It was gathered that trouble started when the protesters, who were mainly 200-level degree students, barricaded the main entrance to the university and prevented management staffs including the university vice chancellor from gaining entrance into the campus.

The protesters, who were carrying placards, accused the university authorities of allegedly hiking the fees by 400 per cent, explaining that the fees were increased from N50,000 to N160,000 in some faculties and N200,000 and above in some others.

A report had it that armed security officers were invited to the institution’s gate by the vice chancellor, Prof Ignatius Onimawo, who was reportedly held hostage by the students at the entrance gate, while another report has it that the security officers were travelling on the Benin-Auchi expressway when they ran into the protesting students.

Some students of the institution said the protest was peaceful until the armed officers arrived at the scene and fired shots.

An undergraduate (name withheld) lamented the shooting, noting that it was wrong to invite armed men to campus to shoot at poor and unarmed student.

She said, “Before soldiers came we were just singing and walking outside the school gate; we did not disturb anybody. We said the fees was N47,000 and we want it to remain.

“But they increased it by 400 per cent; we are now paying N160,000 for the Faculty of Social Science, Management N200,000 and over N200,000 for the College of Medicine. All we are saying is that we will not accept this increase.”

The protesters were set to have looted a heavy duty truck conveying bags of rice and set it ablaze.

The protesting students also reportedly smashed the windscreen of several heavy duty trucks and other vehicles, including the official car of the university’s spokesperson, Mr Edward Aihevba.

A press statement announcing the suspension and signed by the university’s Public Relations Officer, Mr Edward Aihevba, the university condemned the action of the students, describing it as ‘uncalled for and unwarranted’.

It reiterated that there was no fees increment in the institution, calling on parents, guardians and general public to discountenance the rumours making the rounds.

“The university management is disturbed by agitation of students leading to wild demonstrations in and around campus on Monday, November 14, 2016.

“The university wishes to reiterate that there has been no increase in school fees. The school fees regime of last session (2015/2016) remains in force this session (2016/2017.

“By this school fees regime, the present 200 level students will continue to pay what they paid last session as they were entering the university. Other levels will pay what they paid last session, according to their departments and levels,” the statement read.

Traffic on the Benin-Okene Highway was brought to halt as the protesting students blocked the federal road by the university gate.