By Godwin Otang
The Management of the University of Calabar, UNICAL says the crowd crush and collapse witnessed at an examination venue on Saturday was due to “unruly student’s behavior.”
This is even as the management confirmed CrossRiverWatch’s report of students being hospitalized due to the stampede and announced that it was actually 21 students and not 15 as earlier reported.
“Many reasons led to the stampede,” the Vice Chancellor, Professor Florence Obi told CrossRiverWatch and said the story that it was due to an infrastructure deficit is, “not correct.”
“GSS is computer-based examinations, not classrooms or halls. The same e-library used for the last GSS examinations is the same center used for this. The examinations were for less than 12 thousand students. The number is not more than the last one,” Professor Obi’s message read.
Explaining further, the Vice Chancellor shared an analysis which read; “Don’t mind the misinformation in the social media. Yes, there was a stampede arising from the student’s refusal to follow the roster for the exams, which was faculty-based.”
It continued; “We have enough computers in the e-library as all that were in the main library were brought to the e-library. The last GSS exams were written in the e-library, not the main library, and there was no stampede. The August Post UTME aptitude test with more than 25 thousand candidates was written there in 5 days.
“Interestingly, the Director of GSS also coordinates the Post UTME exams for the past two years. And there hasn’t been a stampede. The students were just too unruly and refused to follow any instructions.
“Those who were scheduled for exams in the evening insisted on writing in the morning. Some mercenaries who saw the security check-in at the gate and knew they could not gain entry equally resorted to disrupting the exams. Even the canopies that were arraigned for them to sit comfortably in their holding bay were destroyed by them. Why will an examination for less than 12 thousand students scheduled for 4 days be a problem? Despite all the challenges in two days Thursday and Friday, more than 6 thousand had written even with the very heavy rains of yesterday that was a natural occurrence.”
Meanwhile, CrossRiverWatch has obtained amateur videos of certain moments when the stampede began, with students and some staff members seen in the crowd crush.
In a related development, the Director, of the Center for General Studies, Professor Takim Asu Ojua, in a statement, clarified certain facts about the incident and announced the suspension of the examinations until further notice.
Professor Ojua said the examinations were scheduled to commence on Wednesday, November 8, 2023. He explained that the examinations held on Thursday with students finishing before 4:00 PM while those on Friday, November 10th caused a temporary halt due to heavy downpours leading to students writing until 5:00 PM.
“The examination of Saturday, the 11th of November 2023, started smoothly, with the 3rd set, almost concluding, before students who either missed exams, were not scheduled to write in the morning, or were not even part of the examination, became unruly, uncontrollable, impatient, defiant, by wanting to break into the exam venue forcefully,” the statement read.
Professor Ojua’s statement said the gate of the Academic Publishing Center was destroyed which resulted in, “a serious stampede” with students rushed to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital and the University Medical Center.
“14 students were rushed to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, and 7 (seven) to the Medical Center, for emergency treatment. And before 5 pm, more than 10 students were discharged and taken home, remaining just a few who were to be further examined, even though they were fully stabilized and recuperated,” the statement read, adding that some senior staff with campus journalists visited those hospitalized and fatality recorded.
“The Management and staff of the Center regret the occurrence of this ugly incident, which was avoidable, had the students kept to the scheduled timetable, not destroyed the canopies, and maintained the queues as instructed.
“Accordingly, family members are assured of the safety of our children who were affected by the Stampede, as management is in close touch with the students and some family members to ensure that they recuperate fully.
“Students are therefore advised to travel as the exams have been suspended till further notice,” the statement added.