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The University of Uyo in Akwa Ibom State was, Wednesday, closed down indefinitely as four students were reportedly killed during violent encounter with the Police. The students it was revealed had embarked on peaceful protest on the campus over the introduction of a new fare regime for the engineering and science students from the town campus to permanent site when the police arrived and allegedly opened fire that claimed lives of the students.
Following the killing of the students, some buildings on the town campus were burnt down last night. These included the office of the Vice Chancellor and that of the Registrar.
The Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Comfort Ekpo, was said to have traveled to Abuja on official engagement when the incident occurred.
Some Principal Officers of the University were reported to have been rescued from their hideouts through the use of ambulance escorted by the Peace on Campus Initiative of the University.
When Vanguard visited the university, students were seen rushing out from the campus with their bags and valuable items as they were ordered to vacate their hostels immediately.
Sources said trouble escalated when the students broke the rule to move their protest outside the school premises. They reportedly met a stiff resistance from security operatives at the Ikot Ekpene-Ikpa road round about.
In the violent confrontation, the police were said to have moved in with about15 Hilux vans fully loaded with armed police. They reportedly opened fired and threw tear gas canisters on the students which resulted in the death of the four students.
The school authority, it was gathered recently announced a new fare of N200 per day to convey students from the town campus to the permanent site with effect from yesterday through private consultancy arrangement.
Some of the students who spoke with Vanguard said they were not comfortable with some of polices being implementation in the school. A final year law student who didn’t want his name in print said the police came in during the peaceful protest to shoot sporadically which led to the death of the students. He said: “We were not armed but police came with all sorts of ammunition in a peaceful protest embarked upon by the students.”
A 300 level engineering student lamented the increase in fare which he said was not adequately communicated to the students. He noted: “Even the vehicles were not even available when the school authority began to harass students over payment. The matter is that we do not want this VC any more. Federal Government should look for a more competent hand to govern the affairs of the school.
“How can we pay N200 for the Federal Government intervention vehicle? It is not done. We are not going to accept this.”
The Chief Security Officer, Col. Nyong (rtd) who was chased out from the campus admitted that school management brought in a private consultant to handle student transportation from the town campus to the permanent site but at the rate of N100.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) ASP Etim Dickson confirmed the riot in the University and denied knowledge of the death of any student. According to him, the situation is not clear as to what is going on in the campus as the police are not allowed to enter inside the school.
He added: “We are outside to prevent escalation of the protest. We are aware of the demonstration, but we don’t have authorization to enter campus.”