By Peter Duru, Makurdi
HELL was practically let loose when students of 15-year-old Fidei Polytechnic Gboko went on rampage recently following squabbles over tuition. The institution was more or less turned into a scene of devastation as the students went as far as venting their anger on the ancient and usually serene Gboko town.
While the confusion lasted, a yet-to-be-identified student was said to have been stabbed to death in a rather bizarre manner that raised suspicion that rival cult groups may have taken advantage of the crisis to unleash mayhem on each other. At the same time, virtually all structures and vehicles in the institution were torched by the irate students who also took over the ever-busy Gboko-Aliade road which they closed to traffic for close to 48 hours.
The students did not stop there as they were said to have looted the institution aided by miscreants who midway hijacked the protest and further aggravated the already tensed situation.
While the orgy of destruction lasted, many, including police officers drafted to the scene to maintain the peace, sustained varying degrees of injuries.
Vanguard Metro gathered from a management staff of the institution who craved anonymity that crisis broke out that fateful Tuesday when some selected students who were barred from writing their semester examination following their failure to pay their tuition attempted to stop the commencement of the examinations.
He said: “The students who could not pay their tuition moved into the examination halls and started chasing away other students, insisting that the examination should not hold since they were not allowed to write it.
“Soon the aggrieved students started throwing stones and quickly moved to destroy cars and other property in the institution, including the administrative block of the polytechnic which they razed. Consequently the authorities immediately shutdown the school to forestall further destruction. But the students reconvened on Wednesday morning and initiated another round of rampage which they extended to the ever-busy Gboko-Aliade road.
“At that point the crisis had degenerated into a clash between rival cult groups who also engaged security operatives drafted in to protect lives and property in the institution in a fierce battle.
“In the event, one of the students was later found dead in his own pool of blood and it was discovered that his phone, identification card and anything that could give a clue as to who he was had been taken away from him. We suspect that he was probably stabbed to death by a rival cult group because an examination on his body by the police showed that he was stabbed on the chest.”
Speaking on the matter, the proprietor of the institution, Fr. Chris Utov, who was away in Israel for medical attention during the incident, condemned the action of the students, describing it as unwarranted and inexcusable. According to him: “The institution is privately owned and it is from what we generate from within that the institution is funded; lecturers are paid and facilities are put in place for the benefit of the students. The students know these basic facts; that is why it is rather strange that they would opt to go on rampage on an issue that ordinarily shouldn’t be a reason for any form of crisis.”
The proprietor who lamented the level of destruction in the institution, said the action of the irate students could have been instigated by external forces.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Assistant Superintendent, ASP, Moses Yamu, who debunked insinuations that the dead student was gunned down by security agents maintained that the force do not subscribe to the use of brute force to quell the crisis.
Yamu who allowed reporters access to the remains of the unidentified dead student stated that he obviously died from a stab wound and not bullet wound.
He said: “The wound on him showed that he was obviously stabbed probably by rival cult members who took advantage of the crisis to create mayhem in the school. From available records, the rampaging students destroyed several property, razed the administrative block of the institution and burnt six vehicles, including one belonging to the Police.
“So far we have a record of two injured police officers, while 22 students, including those who were busy looting the institution’s property, have been arrested.
“As I speak with you the management of the institution has shut down the school, peace has returned to the campus and we have already commenced investigations into the matter.”