by Dare Lawal
It was a messy scene in Calabar, the Cross River capital on Tuesday, as officials of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) who were on a public protest on the streets of Calabar as well as those of Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) who were also on a similar mission, engaged in a free-for-all fight opposite Governor Liyel Imoke’s office.
Each of the groups wanted to lead their protest into the governor’s office and none was willing to give way for the other.
At a point, officials of ASUU who were being supported in their march by members of the Non Academic Staff Union of Universities, National Union of Teachers, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the Joint Action Front (JAF) were having the upper hand, so the SPN ordered their boys to shove the ASUU officials aside and take over the protest.
Both groups then began to push and pull themselves about; punching, tearing each other’s banners and calling themselves names.
Mobile policemen had to intervene to restore order. An ASP that led the police team warned them against further disruption of public peace otherwise they would have themselves to blame.
Speaking for the leader of the SPN, Segun Sango, an official said that they were not actually out to disrupt the mass protest by ASUU and JAF to save public education but to join forces with them as they too have been at the vanguard in condemning what he called ‘federal government’ recalcitrance’.
An official of ASUU however said that the SPN came from nowhere to hijack a well-intended protest which they had invested much resources to express their disgust over federal government’s disregard for public education.