Some students of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU), Abia, on Tuesday shut down the institution to protest against the increase of tuition fees by the management.
They also barricaded the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Road, in Ikwuano L.G.A, specifically at the university main gate, thereby disrupting vehicular movement.
Some journalists who visited the institution, gathered that the disenchanted students, who were in their numbers, stormed different halls in the university and chased out students writing their first semester examinations.
The aggrieved students sang anti-management songs such as “VC Iwe, reverse our school fees”, “Say no to extortion”, “Allow us to write our examinations’’, among others.
Shop owners on the highway quickly closed their shops for fear of being attacked by the protesters, who also destroyed the glasses and other property at the university Senate Building, secretariat of the Students Union Government (SUG), library, microfinance bank, main gate and others.
It took the intervention of the police to disperse the protesters with tear gas and gunshots into the air.
Some of the students, who spoke to newsmen on the condition of anonymity, said they were protesting against the insensitivity of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe, and his management towards the plight of the students.
Their words, “We started our first semester examination yesterday (Monday) and the vice chancellor came to the hall and sent out those who have not paid their schools fees.
“They increased our schools fees twice in 2023; some of us were paying about N50, 000, but it is now between N120, 000 and N150, 000.
“The Vice chancellor insisted that students must pay it at once, even when we begged them to allow us pay in two installments for the two semesters.
“Some of us were stopped from writing the examination because our names were yet to appear after doing our biometrics.
“The management introduced the compulsory bio-data for students this semester and it is still ongoing but they said that no student will write examination without it”, the protesters said.
It was also gathered that some of the final year students, complained that the action of the management would make it impossible for them to graduate with their set.
Efforts to speak with the SUG President, Emmanuel Chjioke, failed as neither him nor his executive members could be seen or reached.
Also, the Vice Chancellor, Iwe and the Deputy Vice Chancellors, Academics and Administration, could not be reached, as they were not in the office as at the time of visit, and particularly, the Vice chancellor did not respond to calls put across to him.
But when contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the institution, Mr Patrick Oparah lamented that miscreants capitalized on the protest to destroy valuable school property.
He denied the allegations leveled against the University, saying that the school did not chase out students from exam halls, as alleged.
” The protest was hijacked by some miscreants to destroy school property. It is very unfortunate”, the PRO said.
Oparah said he could not yet confirm if the school had been shut down or not.