Posted by News Express | 22 May 2018 | 3,171 times
Upwards of five protesters were on Tuesday feared to have been shot dead while several others were injured following a clash between the police and protesters at Niger Delta University, (NDU) Amasoma, Bayelsa State.
NDU, which was shut in March following incessant protests over alleged hike in sundry fees payable by students, was scheduled to be reopened today by the University Management.
Earlier in the day, members of Amasoma community, aggrieved by job losses following ongoing reforms in Bayelsa public service had blocked all major roads leading to the NDU for the past one week.
It was gathered that the security agencies deployed to reopen the gates of the institution clashed with the angry crowd that insisted that the institution remains shut.
Residents near the university community said that the clash turned violent as the policemen resorted to firing gunshots to disperse the protesters, resulting to death of five while several others were injured.
The protesters comprising the host community and NDU staff, including non-academic staff who were part of the 1,700 staff that lost their jobs in what Bayelsa State Government described as ‘retirement’.
They maintained that the ongoing reforms had led to massive job losses from members of the University host community who gave up their ancestral land to accommodate the university in exchange for job opportunities for the people.
“We feel that the school is part of our community and we gave up our lands to support the establishment of the school with the understanding that the school will provide some jobs to our people and now those jobs are gone.
“The reforms is targeted at members of the host community, the loss of 1,700 jobs is not a joke and we urge the government to respect the understanding we had with the university management in the early day,” one of the protesters said.
Two lifeless bodies dripping with blood were seen carried away for medical attention while several others sustained varying degrees of injuries were also taken to a nearby hospital.
Community source said that two Policemen and a civilian lost their lives in the shootout while the arms and ammunition of the policemen were carted away.
Mr Don Anwunah, said by telephone on Tuesday that the protesters attacked policemen deployed to reopen the gates of the university which was sealed by welding the metal gate.
He denied that there was any death recorded in the clash, saying that policemen deployed to the scene were rather attacked and injured by the protesters.
“There is no death as we speak, their modus is to put some old women who are naked in front while the youths behind them shoot at the police and they had torched a total of eight police vans unprovoked.
“The vice Chancellor wrote to us to forestall the vandalism and carting away of the university property by the community people even when the gates are locked and we sent our men there.
“Our men have been attacked and there is no death so far; we are battling to dominate the place with our men to restore normalcy,” Anwunah said.
It was gathered that the military has been drafted to the area to reinforce Police presence.
•Photo shows injured protester being rescued by sympathisers as police clashed with protesters at the Niger Delta University Amasoma, Southern Iaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State . . . on Tuesday.
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