Fee-hike protest: Casualties unknown as police clamp down on Kaduna students

A protest over the hike in tuition fees by the College of Education, Gidan Waya, in the Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State, has claimed the life of one student, while another was injured.

The college is located in Southern Kaduna.

The students were said to be protesting against tuition fee hike by the state government.

A witness, who did not want to be identified, told our correspondent that security operatives were called from Kafanchan shortly after the commencement of what he “peaceful protest,” which later turned violent.

According to the witness, security operatives fired live bullets into the crowd, which killed the student.

He explained that the students blocked the major highway in front of the school, thereby preventing free flow of traffic and forcing motorists off the road.

The Provost of the College, Alexander Kure, confirmed the incident on Monday.

The provost said, “The incident happened on the highway and not inside the school. I was told by the security that one student was killed and another injured. I offered an ambulance to take the corpse to the mortuary, and the other person that got injured to the hospital for treatment.

“The school was shut yesterday for mid-semester break and students are to resume next Monday. I don’t know why they were protesting.”

Reacting, the National President of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, Jonathan Asake, alleged that two students were killed by the operatives.

He said it was unfortunate that students would be mowed down by security men in 21st century Nigeria.

Asake, a former House of Representatives member, said, “I have confirmed that it was not one student that was killed. Initially, one died and three were injured. Now, somebody has just called me that the second person has died. And mind you, these students were protesting peacefully and the security went in there with live ammunition and gunned them down. Now, the question is why were these students protesting? The hike in school fees is too much and both students and parents have shown their grievances on this.

“You may recall that in 2016, 21,000 teachers were sacked and most of them were not paid their entitlements and most of them had to withdraw their children from school; most of them even died without receiving their entitlements. And again, thousands of civil servants were sacked in the same manner. And the herdsmen attack has been going on across our communities, displacing many people and children.

The Kaduna State Police Command, however, said one student died, while three were injured.

The command’s Public Relations Officer, ASP Mohammed Jalige, said the operatives were forced to use minimum force after the protest turned violent.

Jalige also claimed that the convoy of a military commander was blocked by the irate students.

He said, “Today, Monday, June 28, 2021, around 8am, the command was informed of the protest and road blockade by students of the College of Education, Gidan Waya, Kafanchan, over the recent increase in tuition fees by the Kaduna State Government.

“On receipt of the information, the command immediately dispatched operatives to restore normalcy. The contingent professionally and successfully dispersed the protesters.

“However, around 9.30am, information has it that the students re-converged and blocked the Gidan Waya- Kafanchan Federal Highway and were becoming unruly and riotous.

“At a point, the protesters blocked the convoy of a military sector commander, injuring him and one other. The situation resulted in a fracas where three protesters were injured in an attempt to use minimal force to disperse the riotous students.

“The victims were taken to the hospital for medical attention, but unfortunately one person died while receiving medical attention.”

Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students has given Governor Nasir El-Rufai 21-day ultimatum to make amends ahead of its national congress slated for July 19, 2021.

The group’s President, Sunday Asefon, noted that all organs and sister bodies of NANS nationwide had been put on alert to relocate to Kaduna.

Asefon made the declaration while addressing a press conference in Kaduna on Monday.

“The Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai, should consider this window period of 21 days’ notice of national congress as enough window to pacify Nigerian students or be ready to kill as many of us as he can through thugs and security and also build enough jail within the 21 days that can accommodate thousands of Nigerian students,” he added.

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