June 19, 2009

2 shot dead as police, varsity students clash

By Dayo Johnson
AKURE — TWO people  were shot dead while two policemen were injured yesterday as students of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State engaged policemen in a bloody clash.

A police station in the town was razed by the students who were irked by the killing of an Okada operator by policemen.

In a swift reaction, the state government relieved the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Philips Abiodun, of his position and shut the institution following the violence.

It appointed Prof Oladele Awobuluyi as acting Vice Chancellor. The appointment of Awobuluyi, a Professor of Linguistics, is with immediate effect.

The State Commissioner of Police, Charles Dawodu, however denied any death but said two policemen were injured during the clash.

About 30 students, it was gathered, had been arrested by the police as at the time of filling in this report.

The students who trooped to the streets as early as 7:30am yesterday, barricaded the highway protesting the continued stay of Prof Philips as the Vice Chancellor and their lecturers’ refusal to resume for work following their strike which has been on for about a month.

Vanguard gathered the protest against development in the University which had affected them from sitting for their first semester’s examination started on Monday and it snowballed into a bloody clash with the policemen yesterday.

One of the deceased, a commercial motorcycle operator was allegedly shot at close range by a policeman while the other was hit during a protest at the police station.
Some suspected cult members in the school allegedly hijacked the protest and dangerous weapons such as AK-47 rifles were said to have been shot at the policemen.

It was gathered that after the death of the Okada operator, the people of the town mobilized and marched to the police station near Iwaro junction and set it ablaze following which the police bullet hit one of other protesters, killing him instantly.

The riot was said to have broken out when the school management directed the students to resume for academic studies from a forced break to write their suspended examinations only to discover that the authorities and the lecturers were yet to settle their differences.

The local branch of ASUU said it would not supervise the examination because of some outstanding allowances.

This development irked the students who took to the streets blaming the University authorities for wasting their time and risking their lives having travelled from different destinations.

The state government while shutting the university said that security agents have been directed to ensure the safety of lives and properties and see to it that peace reigns supreme within the Akungba Akoko Community

Government appealed to the people of the University community to eschew violence and ensure that peace returns to the area while government looks into the matter and stop a recurrence of the unfortunate incident.

It would be recalled that the Prof Tale Omole’s Visitation Panel into the Affairs of the varsity submitted its report to the governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, on March 27, this year.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC), Prof F.A. Oluwatelure was asked to return to his duty-post as a Professor in the Department of Psychology, while the Varsity’s Bursar, Mr. Adesanoye Ojo Fasakin was asked to proceed on retirement.

The state government has equally reconstituted the governing council of the University with Dr Erastus Akingbola as Chairman.