by Paul Osas
The University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, was on fire on Wednesday – literally.
Students of the university, reportedly infuriated by the increase in transport fare to and fro the temporary site and the permanent site of the university set several buildings ablaze today.
Among the buildings torched by the students were the vice chancellor’s office, the exams and records building, as well as the security office.
There are reports that the police, in an attempt to bring the situation under control, allegedly killed two students.
The buildings were reportedly set ablaze by rioting students when a peaceful protest over increase in transport fair to and fro temporary and permanent sites, insufficient facilities in the permanent site turned violent.
The students, largely of Science and Engineering faculties, took to the streets for several hours on Wednesday in protest of poor transportation system for students after authorities ordered the relocation of the Science faculty from the school’s temporary site along Ikpa Road to the permanent site at Nsukara Offot. Reportedly the new site lacks enough infrastructure to accommodate the relocating Science students, and the Engineering students who had moved in earlier, leading to frequent confrontations. The transfer of the Science students merely compounded the hardship already faced by students on the permanent site, situated along the road leading to the city’s new airport.
The point where the students could no longer have any of it, according to reports, came after the Science students were ordered to pay N200 per day to use the campus shuttle buses, against the N1,000 paid per semester by the Engineering students for the same service. The Engineering students are said to occasionally bar the Science students from using the limited lecture rooms and school shuttles between the old and new campuses, about 10 kilometers apart.
The students in protest reportedly blocked the roads and entrance into the school. Police fired tear gas at hundreds of them at the school’s entrances and also reportedly used live ammunition after the students had forced out security personnel. In reaction angry students set school buildings ablaze. The police in an attempt to control the riots allegedly killed at least two students. Students were asked to vacate the hostels on or before 6pm Wednesday.