By Dayo Johnson
AKURE—AS the protest against tuition fees by students of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State entered the third day, yesterday, the Police Command has arrested over 46 students and 34 other suspects for attacking top government judicial officers in Akure.
The state Police Command said 12 students of the institution and 34 individuals were arrested, during the protest, for attempting to overrun the Government House in Akure.
Reports had it that some parents and market women were among those arrested during the protest in Akure.
Spokesperson of the Police Command, Mr. Femi Joseph said that those arrested were causing a breach of the peace in the state by attacking top government officials and some policemen during their protest
He said: “If the students have reasons to protest, it is their constitutional rights, if your government brings out any policy or decision that do not go down well with you, you can protest peacefully.
“But when you begin to cross the line of decency, embarking on the destruction of lives and properties, blocking the highways and embarking on a looting spree and damaging government properties and even wanting to invade the government house, we will not allow that. That was why we had to come in.
“We have been appealing to the students to embrace dialogue since the beginning of this protest but they allowed hoodlums to hijack this protest and we would not fold our arms and allow this to continue.”
Meanwhile, the students who continued their protest stormed the major streets in Akure as early as 8 am.
Some traders, who closed their shops also joined in the protest, calling on the government to revert the outrageous fees.
Reports had it that some of the students also protested at Ikare Akoko, the neighbouring town to the Akungba, where the institution is situated.
Ondo lawmakers wade in
Disturbed by the threat to security, the State House of Assembly yesterday summoned the Governing Council, the Education Commissioner, Mr. Femi Agagu and other stakeholders to a meeting to find a lasting solution to the melee.
Judicial officers attacked
Yesterday’s protest, in Akure, took a new dimension as the aggrieved students stoned the convoy of two top judicial officers, who ran into them along Alagbaka, near the government house.
On sighting the convoy, the students hauled stones at the vehicles following which the drivers made a detour and escaped from the scene but many of the vehicles in the convoy were smashed.
However, a detachment of policemen had to fire canisters of teargas to disperse the students who were about to overpower those in the convoy of the judicial officers.
Mobile Police deployed
The state police commissioner had to deploy mobile policemen to chase away the students at CBN roundabout, First bank, Government House gate and those along Oba Adesida road with tear gas.
Vanguard gathered that reinforcement of police detectives was immediately drafted to the government house, governor’s office, the International Event Centre and other government structures and facilities as the students became daring.
Market women join protest
Market women in Akure also joined in the protest in solidarity with the students as major roads in the metropolis were blocked.
Govt must revert—Students
The leader of Akoko students, Comrade Sunday Ajibua called for the immediate reversal of the fees particularly for old students while they will not stop protest until the reversal.
We’ll cushion effect of increase—Govt
The state government said the governing council has rolled out some measure to cushion the effect of the increase in the new fees.
The Information and Orientation Commissioner, Mr. Yemi Olowolabi
Olowolabi said they include flexibility in the payment of school fees that is payment in two tranches for students that cannot afford to pay, expansion of the current work-study scheme of the University within and around the University to allow interested students to work two hours in a day to support their education.
In addition, he said: “such student will be qualified for another loan after repayment and a support of up to 50% of the school fees to assist the physically-challenged students.”