By Daud Olatunji
ABEOKUTA—IT was a free for all Thursday, in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, as two factions of students from tertiary institutions in the state clashed over Tuesday reduction of school fees announced by the state government, leaving four persons injured.
The incident occurred around Federal Secretariat, Oke Mosan, about 100 metres away from the governor’s office after a faction had staged a solidarity marched from Kuto Roundabout to the governor’s office at Oke Mosan to thank him for reducing the school fees, led to gridlock on this route.
Students, who were from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, Gateway Polytechnic, Igbesa, and other ICT polytechnics in the state broke into two factions and attacked each other with various weapons, including broken bottles, matchets, among others.
The pro-Amosun faction was received at the arcade ground by the Education Commissioner, Segun Odubela, Deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Tola Banjo and Special Assistant to the governor on Students Affairs, Olusegun Clement.
Odubela, who also commended the students for appreciating Governor Amosun’s gesture, advised them to take their studies seriously to justify the government’s gesture.
But the second faction, led by the Students Union Government President, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Olusegun Ifade, argued that the said fee reduction should have taken effect from 2013/2014 session, and not the 2014/2015 session as announced by the state government.
It addressed journalists at Iwe Irohin House, Oke Ilewo in Abeokuta, claiming it had demanded for fee reduction since 2011, which the governor failed to yield to.
Some of the students were armed with placards with inscriptions such as ‘No reduction in 2013/2014, no vote’,’ Amosun reduce our school fees’, ‘SIA must obey now’, and ‘Bring down our fees.’
They also demanded among others further reduction of the fees and adequate funding of tertiary education and were heading to the governor’s office before running into the other faction, where a free-for-all ensued.
The protest, however, turned violent as a bus conveying the Students of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, MAPOLY, was attacked around Kuto roundabout on their way back to the campus after the solidarity rally.
In what looked like a reprisal attack, the MAPOLY students reinforced and attacked the students of Olabisi Onabanjo University leaving four seriously injured.
Phones and other valuables were forcefully taken from the students as the front of the Federal Secretariat in Oke-Mosan was turned to a battle field.
Many people including men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps were seen running for their lives while shops and other offices nearby were hurriedly shut.
Attempt by the rampaging students to access the Federal Secretarial was repealed as the gate was quickly shut by the security operatives manning the gate.
Police operatives led by the State Commissioner, Ikemefuna Okoye were also caught in the web of the rampaging students as his convoy was stopped from entering the governor’s office while he was forced to come out of his car and trekked in to address the students.
The APC chieftain, who has declared his intention to vie for the position of the Senate in Ekiti North senatorial District of the state in the forth coming National Assembly election, expressed the hope that the APC would bounce back in the state despite its initial shortcomings.
The senatorial aspirant lamented that 15 years of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP reign in the country, saying it was a colossal waste.
He called on members of APC to work together and keep afloat, noting that the Ekiti governorship election was an eye opener to the party.