2 feared dead as poly students protest fee hike

Two students were feared killed yesterday when students of the Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Owerri, Imo State yesterday embarked on a violent protest over alleged hike in tuition fees and student union election.

The students in their hundreds gathered outside the premises with others suspected to be cultists armed with AK 47, shortguns and other dangerous weapons and stormed the school premises.
The protesting students alleged that the school had increased their tuition fee from N30,000 to  N40,000 while the acceptance fee was  hiked from N10,000 to N15, 000 per session  three weeks ago.
But in a swift reaction, the management denied  any increment.  The Public Relations Officer (PRO) , Nze  Obinna  Okafor,  told newsmen that the management has not increased  any fee.
He said that the polytechnic community woke-up  yesterday  to discover that the students  took  to the streets,  destroying  property  belonging   to the school and individuals.
Student Union election was expected  to be conducted tomorrow as the committee released  names of  qualified  and disqualified   aspirants.

It was  gathered  that the electoral panel has screened  six presidential aspirants namely, Bekee Igbojionu, Peter  Ahuana, Kingsley Nwosu, Collins Nlembe, Nnamdi Maduagwu and Emeka   Nzeh,  while two of the aspirants  scaled  the hurdle.

One of the presidential  candidates, Igbojionu was dissatisfied with his disqualification but allegedly had a link  with the office of the wife of Imo State governor.  One of the aides to the first lady allegedly indicated interest to influence the inclusion  of the failed  aspirant  among  the  cleared  presidential candidates.

But Senior Special Assistant to the governor (Media) Mr. Chinedu Offor, described the allegation of government involvement in student unionlism as the handwork of mischief-makers. He said what interest did the state government has in a federal institution.
It was alleged that the  State  Security  Service (SSS), Owerri invited   the Dean of  Students  Affairs  over the disqualification of Igbojionu, which the dean turned down because it was an oral invitation.
A member of the electoral committee who pleaded anonymity told Daily Sun that  Igbojionu was disqualified  because, he held no elective position in the past .

The protesting students destroyed the main gate, set ablaze  student union office, vandalized over 20  vehicles belonging  to the school and individuals. Also destroyed include the office of the Rector and lecturers offices.
The management  informed  the police of the riot on time  but their late arrival created  room for students  to wreak  havoc.
The quick intervention of soldiers from the 34 Artillery Brigade, Obinze, few hours later, saved the situation from    degenerating into further  disaster.
Police spokesman, DSP  Linus  Nwaiwu, said that he has not received  details of the riot.
Meanwhile,  the management  yesterday  closed  down  the institution directing all students to vacate the school’s premises immediately.

In a two–paragraph statement by the Registrar, Mr.  Matthew Alegbe, he  said, “The management  of the  Federal Polytechnic, Nekede,  Owerri has directed all  students  of the institution  to proceed  on break with immediate effect.

“In the light of the above, the students should vacate the campus immediately”
The protest disrupted a vehicular movement in both Owerri the state capital and its environs as many workers and commuters were stranded..

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