Nigerian Students Riot against fee hikes

by

from the Nigeria Sun:

Three shot as police, UNN students clash

From Petrus Obi, Enugu & Kassidy Uchendu, Nsukka

Sunday, January 17, 2010

At least two students and a policeman were shot and about 22 vehicles destroyed yesterday when hundreds of rampaging students of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) took to the streets to protest what they termed arbitrary increase of fees by the newly installed management of the institution.

The rioting students sacked the university town and descended on the Vice Chancellor and Pro-chancellor’s lodge, where cars and buses were badly damaged.

The vice chancellor, Prof Bartholomew Okolo, was however reported to have escaped unhurt.

Apart from taking over the town after sacking all principal officers of the university, including the university librarian, who escaped from the vice chancellor’s lodge by scaling the high fence with the help of a security staff, they defied security operatives and traveled some five kilometers to the Enugu-Benue federal highway where they held up vehicular and even human traffic for over three hours.

The students were protesting alleged astronomical increases in school fees being introduced by the administration of Prof. Okolo, who they accused of being adamant to their entreaties that the situation be reversed or at least be mitigated.

The protests had started last Thursday in the University Secondary School where N60,000 levy was being imposed without any explanation, a ploy seen by parents as introduction of a 100 per cent increase in fees.

Some students who spoke to us explained that the situation has become unbearable as the vice chancellor was insisting that their fees, allegedly being increased by some 300 per cent, would not be reversed.

One of them, who said she is a second year student of Sociology, stated: “For this running session, I have paid N30,000 but what the VC is introducing is that we will now pay N90,000. He has increased hostel accommodation from N9,000 to N35,000 for the female students.”

Another student explained that apart from the school fees going high in an unimaginable dimension, “the VC has also proposed an increase in convocation fee paid by the graduating students from N4,000 or N6,000 to N40,000.

“For the incoming fresh students, it has been a tale of woes. They initially took shopping forms at the sum of N10,000 each. Those admitted will pay acceptance fee of N25,000 each. That is up from N6,000 fee introduced by the immediate past administration. Yet, they are to pay fees allegedly amounting to N120,000.”

At the height of the rampage, some of the protesters at Ede-Oballa town near Nsuuka disarmed two policemen and continued firing the arms until the ammunition were exhausted.

A police source confirmed to our reporter at Opi Junction that a policeman was shot on the arm during the incident of disarming.

The female student who was shot was said to have met her cruel fate when police earlier confronted the protesters within the university premises. But details of her identities were not available immediately. It took the intervention of a unit commander of the mobile police, Mr Ehindero Ola, who had been drafted in from Enugu, to get the students to vacate the federal highway about noon.

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