The Michael Okpara University, Umudike, Abia State has suspended indefinitely its ongoing academic activities following the protest by students against the increment of school fees in the early hours of Tuesday.
PUNCH Metro learnt from a statement by the Vice Chancellor of the school, Prof. Maduebibisi Iwe, that academic activities of the institution had been suspended indefinitely after the violent protest.
The statement read in part, “This is to notify the public that the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State woke up to experience the violation of the long-existing peace of the university this morning.
“To safeguard life and properties on campus, the university management has on behalf of the Senate ordered an indefinite shutdown of the university indefinitely.”
The school management advised all the students to vacate the university premises immediately or no later than 5.00 pm on Tuesday, February 6, 2024.
Our correspondent learnt that some miscreants were said to have hijacked the protest thereby destroying some of the school’s properties including carrying out an attack on the VC’s official vehicle and other officials.
A computer science student identified simply as Victoria told our correspondent on the telephone that the school had insisted that students would not be allowed to write the first semester examinations should they not pay up the recently increased tuition fees.
She said, “They didn’t allow us to write our final year exams as well except we paid up the school fees.”
Meanwhile, the Student Union Government General Secretary, Enyioma Godslove, has in a statement sent to our correspondent appealed to the protesting students to shun violence, saying, “Continuous destruction of things and also hurting of our fellow students wouldn’t solve the problem.”
“I have taken it upon myself to plead on behalf of the Students Union Government for peace to prevail as we await the best thing to be done.”
A viral video seen by our correspondent on Tuesday evening shows some policemen parading the school premises with vans and shooting into the air at the main gate to disperse the protesting students causing chaos.
This act caused some market men and women to flee from their market stands causing them to leave their goods and run for their lives while the shootings continued.
A few months ago, students of the University of Lagos reportedly took part in similar protests over increase in tuition fees while demanding the school authorities to lower the raised fees.
The students had described the fee increase as “inconsiderate” and urged the Federal Government to use profits from the fuel subsidy removal to fund education, rather than permitting a rise in tuition fees.
On January 15, students of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, had protested the proposed hike in the school fees by the management. The FUTA Director of Corporate Communications, Adegbenro Adebanjo, had earlier issued a statement hinting that the proposed hike was to cover student-related costs and municipal services such as electricity, water, hostel maintenance, and cleaning in view of the rising cost of living.