Home » Education, Kogi, State News » Four Feared Killed As Kogi Youths Protest Varsity’s Relocation

Four Feared Killed As Kogi Youths Protest Varsity’s Relocation

The riot had spread from Kabba to Ayetoro-Gbede in Ijumu and to Mopamuro Council by yesterday. As a result, delegates to today’s rerun senatorial and House of Representatives primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lokoja and Kabba could not travel and had to turn back. Windscreens of buses conveying some delegates identified to be supporters of a senatorial aspirant loyal to Governor Ibrahim Idris were smashed and the occupants wounded.

The youths, led by students’ union leaders are protesting alleged relocation of the newly approved Federal University of Technology from Kabba, its original location to Lokoja, the state capital. By Governor Idris for the third day running, the rampaging youths, in their hundreds yesterday blocked federal roads linking Kabba-Okene, Kabba-Ekiti as well as Kabba-Ilorin roads with burn fires. Several vehicles were set ablaze, with those marked with Kogi State government registration numbers as special targets.
Drivers of Dangote trailers conveying cements from the Obajana Cement Factory meant for delivery to several parts of the state were said to have been forced to station their vehicles to cross the roads, thereby making passage impossible for other road users. singing choruses, such as “No University, no road”, the youths accused Governor Idris of vendetta against the Yoruba and called for the intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan “before Kogi turns into another Jos.”
It took the intervention of anti-riots policemen who cleared parts of the debris for motorists to have a passage around 3pm. But at about 5pm, more road blockages emerged in Ayetoro-Gbede, Ijumu Local Council. One of such blockages was mounted at the frontage of the residence of Gen. David Jemibewon, with the youths chanting anti-Idris slogans and carrying placards with the inscription: “Bring back our university”. The riots left several travellers stranded for hours, while those who could no longer bear the long wait, decided to turn back. The youths distributed bags of sachets of ‘pure water’ to the stranded travelers just as they appealed to them to bear the struggle with them as they were fighting for the future.
Trouble started when a detachment of mobile policemen arrived at the scene in Kabba town, where the riot was more rampant, and began to shoot into the air.
The youths were said to have replied by throwing stones at the police and in the melee, three persons were said to have been hit by stray bullets, while 13 others, including two policemen were seriously injured and are said to be on danger list. Reports also have it that the PDP secretariat in Kabba had been razed in a transfer of aggression.
Speaker of the House of Assembly, Chief Clarence Olafemi was also said to have written to the state police SIB, over threats to burn down his building and other properties owned by Okun people in Idris government for failure to stop the relocation.  The Kogi State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Okasanmi Ajayi who confirmed that the situation was tense, assured that the security agents are doing everything possible to put the situation under control. He disclosed that the police commissioner, Mr. John Abakasanga has relocated to Kabba and that the team would soon bring the riot to an end.

A relative of one of those shot during the protest, said the victims were quickly rushed to a private hospital in Kabba in the bid to save their lives. One of the leaders of the protesting youths, Mr. Ranti Alabi said the shooting of the boys was unnecessary and provocative. He threatened that there would be a total
breakdown of law and order if the government does not reverse its decision on the location of the university. He maintained that “notwithstanding police intimidation, we will not be compelled to stop the protests. The state government has invoked our anger, and we are ready to fight till the last drop of our blood”.

The National President, Ijumu Students Association, Yusuf Adeyanju Ishau, a student of Kogi State Polytechnic, told The Guardian the scene of an incident in Ayetoro-Gbede, yesterday that “the issue on ground now is that of returning the federal university to Kabba. As you can see, what we are doing here is asking for our rights through a peaceful protest. Senator Smart Adeyemi fought for this university and he specifically called for its location in Kabba, through upgrading facilities at the College of Agriculture, an extended campus of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
“But what the governor has done, as a result of individual political differences with the senator, is to relocate it from Kabba to a science secondary school, in Lokoja. We want the president to intervene in this matter, since it is a federal university and not a state university.”
Asked how long the protest would last, the student leader said it would continue until government intervention is in sight. He however said that the Okun people have resolved not to join issues with their brothers in the Lokoja axis over the relocation.
But Okun Media Link, an association of indigenes who are newspaper publishers from the area, in a statement issued in Lokoja and signed by its Chairman, Friday Ogungbemi and Secretary, Stephen Orungun, linked the relocation with the agitation for power shift by minorities in the state, saying the governor’s action was aimed at pitching Lokoja and Okun people against themselves.
Media Link which noted that the College of Agric at Kabba was initially proposed for the citing of the university for having the structure, facilities, history, and sufficient hectares of land to accommodate the institution said “the pronouncement of its location at Lokoja by Governor Ibrahim Idris is seen as a calculated attempt to vilify Senator Adeyemi, the principal proponent of the university and to pitch the people of Kogi West against themselves to forestall the collective agitation for power shift”.
A member of the House of Representatives, representing Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu, Dino Melaye, at a press conference in Lokoja noted that Lokoja is not suitable for the location of the federal university based on the fact that there is no adequate land space to accommodate such gigantic project. He explained that the ideal location for the university is the College of Agriculture, Kabba which can boast of existing human resources and structural capacity to kick start the university.
According to him, “the location of the university in Lokoja as proposed by the state government is abnormal, satanic and selfish ambition on the part of a cabal in the state government who believe they can deny the kabba and Okun people the right to host the university.
“I am going to fight this injustice with my last blood both physically and through legal means in order to reverse this injustice, the College of Agriculture, Kabba is an outpost of the Ahamdu Bello University (ABU) and the college has all the necessary facilities to be upgraded for the proposed federal university.
Reacting to the protests, Governor Idris said the choice of Lokoja as the site of the federal university was based on the fact that the state capital is centrally located and can be easily accessed by those living within and outside the state.
The governor said the state government has directed the Commissioner of Environment and Physical Development to provide a large piece of land in Lokoja which will serve as the permanent site of the university.
Idris who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Zakari Adamu, explained that for now the university will operate from the Science Secondary School, Lokoja on a temporary basis before it will move to its permanent site.    
Meanwhile, more trouble looms as the protesters have vowed to stop the rerun senatorial and House of Representatives primary elections of the PDP slated for today in Lokoja and Kabba respectively. Already, a source in the PDP secretariat in Lokoja has confirmed to The Guardian that the planned Kogi West Senatorial Primaries has been moved from Kabba, the headquarters of the senatorial district, to Lokoja for security reasons. But, the leader of Association for Better Okun and Ebira Youths, (ABOEY), Alex Babalola, warned delegates of the PDP to steer clear of the roads linking Kabba with Lokoja vowing that the protest would continue indefinitely.

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Posted by on Jan 29 2011. Filed under Education, Kogi, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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