By Archibong Jeremiah/Monday Ogar
The University of Calabar, UNICAL has been shut down for two weeks by the school management after a protest by the students this morning disrupted academic and other activities on campus and its environs.
The students took to the streets to protest the bad state of facilities in the school hostels and other sundry issues.
The protest which started around 4 a.m. in the male hostel spread to the female hostel and later led to the locking down of the institution by students over the lack of electricity and water supply which they claim has stretched over 7 months now, poor hostel facilities, lack of beds, unnecessary increment in school levies without reasonable explanations, and a host of others.
Speaking to CrossRiverWatch, the Students Union Government, SUG President, Comrade Ekpo Tete who denied knowledge of the protest said he was informed of the situation by the Chief Security Officer of the institution after the action had started.
He also told our reporter that the students are accusing him of collecting 3 million Naira from management to betray them.
When this reporter informed him that one Collins and Lawrence, who identified themselves earlier as student leaders said he was in support of the action of the students, he quickly retorted “How can I be in support, I am for management and students, my tyres were deflated.
“When I woke up and came down I saw students outside because of their problems, poor toilet facilities in the hostel, no light, no accommodation, increment of acceptance fee, everything. That is why they are protesting, we are trying to calm them down.
“Even our female students have contacted so many kinds of diseases because of poor hostel toilet facilities, because of that they decide to demonstrate peacefully, as the SUG President, I am here to maintain peace because if I am not here things will get out of hand”, the UNICAL SUG President said.
He appealed to the Vice Chancellor to take urgent action. “Come and do these things for Nigerian Students, we are dying, no good facilities, our environment is very dark, hoodlums have started snatching hand bags from our students, that is why students say No! Enough is enough”.
One student informed our reporter that her phone was seized by some of her colleagues coordinating the protest because they refused anyone taking photographs.
Several other students were seen by our reporters been harassed for videoing and taking photos. This reporter was also harassed but was later allowed after identifying himself.
The school management in a statement by the Information Officer of the University, Mr. Effiong Eyo later announced the closure of the campus for two weeks. According to the statement, “Students are expected to vacate the hostels on or before 6:00pm to enable management address the issues raised by the students.
“Normal academic activities would resume on Friday, 30th October, 2015. No Student should be found on Campus, especially within the hostels after 6:00pm today 12th October 2015.”
When CrossRiverWatch contacted the Vice Chancellor of the school, Professor James Epoke over the development, he told our reporter that the students have a right to protest as long as they are peaceful. He added that the two weeks shut down had nothing to do with violence but is a mid-term break to allow the school fix some of the issues the students are complaining about.
“I recognize that the students have a right to protest once they are peaceful. The issues they raised about lack of power and water in the hostels is also true. The generators that the school has have been shut down for repairs that is why power in the hostels has been a problem and we are working to see how we can try to address some of those things before the students resume.
“The closure had nothing to do with violence by the students. The students were very peaceful. They did not do violence at all and what we just did is to take a mid-term break to see how we can quickly fix some of those things before the students return.” The VC said.
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