25 February 2013

Nigeria: Keffi Students' Protest Update - Soldiers Evacuate Students From Apartments

Photo: Vanguard
Army members.

Lafia — Following the closure of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi earlier today, soldiers have further moved to evacuate students occupying rented apartments around the school.

Armed soldiers have been going round Angwan Lambu, High Court and other areas around the school to make arrests or forcefully evict students staying in rented apartments, hours after the students' protests.

Students spoken to say their mates who stay around the university were arrested, with others forced out of their apartments after soldiers stormed Angwan Lambu and High Court areas.

The university management, according to a statement issued in the afternoon by Mamman Dalhatu, the school Registrar this afternoon, announced the closure of the school, and ordered students on campus and off campus to leave immediately.

"Students are advised to vacate the campuses immediately and return home until further notice. For the avoidance of doubt, any student who remains on or around the campuses does so at his or her own risk as security forces have been notified of this closure", a statement by the Registrar said.

Not long after, students began to allege they many residences were targeted by truckloads of soldiers who stormed the school area.

"They kicked at doors and forced students out. Many were arrested, and other just beaten and asked to leave immediately. We are shocked that the Registrar will ask students who were provided with accommodation by the university, to vacate their rented apartments, or face soldiers' eviction", a student said.

State police spokesman, DSP Michael Ada said he will not comment on the action of the soldiers. He also said he had no ideas if any students were arrested, although he said it was subject verification with the Area Commander in charge of Keffi.

Earlier in the day, six students were shot by a combined team of soldiers and policemen who moved in to open the barricade by students of Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), who poured out this morning in protest against the water crisis which had lasted for over one week.

The soldiers and policemen were said to have opened fire at point blank, killing two students on the spot, and injuring three others at the High Court area of Keffi, where the security personnel tried to break up the protesters at about 11am.

Spokesman for the Federal Medical Centre confirmed that two of the students were killed y the bullets while four others were seriously wounded.

Joseph Danjuma, spokesman to the deputy governor, said they were about to "issue a press statement", on the matter.

The management of the university had quickly announced the decision to close down the school, according to Jamil Zakari, spokesman of the university.

Zakari also did not then confirm the killings, but admitted he had heard of the shooting down of the students.

The students, including fresh entrants began the protest at about 7:30am after over close to two weeks of water crisis which hit Keffi because the management could not treat and pump water from Mada Water Works along Keff-Akwanga Road. They chanted "No Water, No Road", during the protest which has continued for about five hours now.

DSP Ada said the state commissioner of police, Abayomi Akeremale had left Lafia to Keffi, earlier in the morning when the protesters stormed into the major road. "But I can't say anything official now because I am yet to hear from them there", the PPRO said.

Daily Trust learnt that the school ambulance was rushed in to evacuated the shot students, but two had died before the team of medical officer arrived.

Our sources said the ambulance could not make its way to the school clinic where the team of medical officers were rushing the three badly bleeding students, and had to take another route to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in town.

"The university gate was sealed up by our students. So the ambulance could not make its way to the school clinic. The ambulance tried to go to FMC, but the road was blocked. They had to find other routes to FMC, somehow", one student said.

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