Seven persons were on Monday injured following a protest by students of the Plateau State Polytechnic.
Some of the victims reportedly fainted due to the tear gas canisters fired by security operatives who stormed the Jos campus of the polytechnic to disperse the protesters.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the students blocked the Yakubu Gowon Road during the demonstration. The road leading to the main campus of the polytechnic located at the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area was also blocked by the students, forcing road users to find alternative routes to their destinations.
The protesting students were said to be angry over an indefinite strike embarked upon by their lecturers under the aegis of the Joint Union of Academic Staff of Plateau State Owned Tertiary Institutions.
The union leaders had earlier accused Governor Simon Lalong’s administration of refusing to honour an agreement reached with members of the union bordering on their welfare and said they would shut down tertiary institutions in the state from Friday, September 17, 2021, if the government refused to revisit the agreement before the said date.
It was learnt that the strike, which began on Saturday after the government failed to address the demands, forced the management of the state polytechnic to postpone examinations earlier scheduled for Monday, a development which sparked the protest.
One of the students, Tindak Theophilus, told our correspondent in Jos that about seven of his colleagues were injured during the protest.
Theophilus said, “We came to school this morning to start our examinations only to see a circular that our lecturers have been on strike since Friday.
“We were not informed; nobody said anything to us, we just discovered that we could not start our examinations. This is why students are protesting.
“We have spent over three years for just one semester owing to the COVID-19 lockdown, but largely due to the various strikes embarked upon by our lecturers.
“We keep paying for our accommodation, school fees, and other expenses. More so, we are getting old and by the time we graduate, we can’t find jobs because of age.
“About seven of our students are currently receiving treatment in different hospitals in Jos because of the injuries they sustained during the protest. Some of them were asthmatic patients who could not stand the tear gas fired by security operatives to disperse the students.
Another student, Pam Bulus, decried the incessant strike by lecturers, adding that the development had stagnated their academic progress.
“Nobody has come to address us on the issue and we feel this is not right. We demand proper explanation from the management on why we cannot start our examinations today. We are tired of this back and forth; our academic journey is suffering and this is not good for us,” he added.
The Public Relations Officer of the institution, John Ramadan, could not be reached for comments on the situation as of the time of filing this report.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Ubah Ogaba, said policemen deployed in the scene were civil, polite and firm with the students.
“We don’t have any report of police killing anyone,” he added.
Also, a statement by the troops of Operation Safe Haven issued by one Major Ishaku Takwa, said the protest was unnecessary.
It read, “Security agencies professionally dispersed the protesting students who barricaded the major road linking the Jos metropolis with other states, causing traffic jam to commuters.
“Operation Safe Haven wishes to also draw the attention of students and indeed members of the public to the ban on any kind of protest by group or persons in the state by the Nigeria Police while the curfew imposed by the Plateau State Government is still enforced. Therefore, the protest by the students was unnecessary.
“It should be noted that hoodlums would have infiltrated the protest and cause mayhem that would have disrupted the fragile peace on the plateau, but the timely intervention of security agencies averted the ugly situation..”
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