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UNIPORT students protest, demand relocation of ex-militants

By Jimitota Onoyume

PORT HARCOURT —  HUNDREDS of students of the University of Port Harcourt, yesterday, stormed Government House, Port Harcourt, to demand that the state government relocates ex-militants from their rehabilitation camp at Aluu, Choba to any other place in the state very far from the institution.

The police in Port Harcourt has arrested nine of the ex-militants involved in Monday’s rampage.

The students, who came in two  luxurious buses and about twenty one 14-seater buses, said since the ex-militants were relocated to Aluu for their rehabilitation programme, the students of the university have not known peace.

According to them, it was either the ex-militants were snatching phones from students, harassing female students or committing one form of havoc or the other that had continued to generate tension within the university.

The said nefarious activities of the repentant militants came to climax, Monday, when they embarked on rampage robbing students and residents in the university environment.

Mr. Amadi Solomon, one of the students who spoke, alleged that some female students of the university were raped by the ex-militants while on rampage that day.
Vanguard gathered that hundreds of students had, out of fear for their lives,  vacated their residence at Aluu community.

Some who spoke said they had to relocate to their friends’ places at Alakahia and Choba. They said the ex-militants had been tormenting them since they came to Aluu.

“It was either they were snatching our phones or robbing us of valuables,” one victim said.

Continuing, they said what the ex-militants did on  Monday was to position themselves at the Aluu road, harassing road users and snatching valuables from them. The ex-militants, the students said, smashed several vehicles and looted several stores.

Aluu community has the largest population of UNIPORT students residing outside hostels built by the university in its three campuses— Choba, Abuja and Delta Park.

Commissioner for Comm-erce and Industry, Mr. Ogbonna Nwuke, who received the protesting students decried the action of the ex-militants, just as he apologised to the students and the university community for the irresponsible acts of the ex-militants during their protest.
He said the government would investigate the situation and ensure those found wanting were brought to book.

Appealing to the students to go back to school, he assured that government would continue to guarantee their security. While stressing that such sad experience would not repeat itself, the commissioner charged the ex-militants to be patient over their unpaid allowances

Meanwhile, when contacted for information on the extent of damage suffered by the university, the Public Relations Officer of the school, Dr William Wordi, said they were still collating.

According to him, the rampaging ex-militants entered one of the campuses of the university, smashed vehicles, snatched laptops and several valuables.

“We are still collating the extent of damage. They stole laptops, manhandled staff and students. We are still quanti-fying,” he said.

He could not ascertain if any female student was raped, saying, “no female student has come to the university to say she was raped.”

On the protest by the students to Government House, Port Harcourt, he said formally the school was not aware because students were supposed to pass through the Dean, Students’ Affairs to embark on such action.

Also reacting to the action of the ex-militants, President, Ijaw Youth Council, (IYC), Dr Chris Ekiyor, who spoke on phone, described it as conde-mnable.
“It is sad that people being planned for are taking laws into their hands,” he said, cautioning the ex-militants not to abuse the amnesty granted them.

He advised them to desist from taking the laws into their hands in the future.

At press time, calm had returned to the school. Students were seen going about their activities.

Meanwhile, the Rivers State Police Command says it has arrested nine persons,  suspected to be part of the Monday violent demonstra-tion.

Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Balla Hassan, who spoke to newsmen, yesterday, in Port Harcourt, said the arrest was made while the demonstration was on, adding that those arrested were picked around Aluu axis.

The Commissioner, who said they would be arraigned in court, urged ex-militants in the state not to abuse the amnesty granted them, assuring residents and students of Choba and Aluu communities that security had been beefed up in the area so  they can go about their normal activities.


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