Armed soldiers yesterday invaded the Gwagwalada main campus of the University of Abuja to drive out all students from their hostel rooms as protest embarked on Monday by the students escalated, leading to the closure of Airport road and causing difficulties for travellers on the Abuja-Lokoja road.
The soldiers, Blueprint learnt, stormed the campus in two trucks some minutes after 4pm and immediately began driving the students out of the school premises. Many students, including females, were reportedly assaulted in an attempt by the soldiers to flush them out.
Meanwhile, the university’s management has announced closure of the institution. A circular signed by the registrar of the university, Malam M.B. Modibbo, reads: “Given the prevailing situation on the campus and the potential security of the university, the Vice Chancellor had approved the immediate closure of the university.”
A 200-level female student of Law, who did not disclose her name, told our correspondent that a circular was pasted on the notice boards on the campus asking the students to vacate their hostel by 4pm yesterday, after resumed protest had spilled to the main road.
The renewed protest was reportedly instigated by the failure of the university’s management to fully accredit its Engineering, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine courses in spite of grace of time granted it by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
The female student said: “Minutes after 4pm, two truckloads of army personnel arrived at the campus and began trailing students up to the hostels. About five of them entered female hostels and started beating anybody they met.
“They entered into our rooms and beat us up, including my roommates who were also in the room. They threatened that if they returned and meet anybody there, they would deal with the person and use tear gas on us.”
The students had earlier blocked SDP junction in Gwagwalada, thereby stopping travellers from going into the city, as well as those going out of the Federal Capital Territory through the Abuja-Lokoja road.
“We will also block airport road because majority of the people who should do something about the situation ply that route so they should feel our plight,” one of the protesters said.
The students said the school authority has threatened to expel any student who is involved in any form of protest against the school authority.
They said they will not allow the school to keep restraining them from their rights.
“We have protested before, but the VC promised to change the situation, and therefore warned that any student that spearheads any protest again will be expelled from the school and that is why we had been calm. But, today we are saying enough is enough.
“We cannot be an endangered species any longer, that is why we are all out here. We intend to take our protest to the Ministry of Education. Once the VC is sacked and we hear that as breaking news, students will vacate this place with immediate effect,” a male student of Engineering said.
Most of the protesters who are from the Engineering department of the school lamented further, saying they have been paying school fees hoping on the promise by the vice chancellor that their course of study would be accredited.
“If the school knew that the course would not be accredited why did they keep collecting our money? We are fed up and we are saying no to short duration of examination period where we write thirteen courses in five days. We don’t have Student Union Government to coordinate students. Security embarrass students always. Food is expensive and there is no infrastructure. We want a change of government,” another student said.