Several students of Plateau State Polytechnic, Jos campus, were on Monday “shot by military personnel” during a protest at their school gate along Yakubu Gowon Way.
The students were protesting the suspension of their examination which was to commence on Monday.
The protesting students, who blocked the road early on Monday morning, said they were not told about the suspension of the examination, saying many of them slept in the school classes on Sunday reading for the examination.
They were concerned that they have been having strikes, suspension of academic activities and examination alike for a while now, lamenting that they were spending more years on their programmes.
During the protest, however, many security personnel arrived and began shooting sporadically, thereby injuring many students in the process.
Daily Trust gathered that some asthmatic students suffered attacks from the tear gas shot to disperse the students.
Our correspondents visited some of the injured students at the Plateau State hospital and a private hospital by the old airport junction.
Among the students shot are Azi Nyam Waziri (by the side of his stomach) and Usendok Samuel Godwin whom bullet pierced his forehead.
Waziri told our correspondents that he still have the bullet(s) inside him, while Godwin said he could not even tell if the bullet is in his skull or just pierced through, as he was brought to the hospital unconscious.
Meanwhile, the students union officials and school spokesperson could not comment when contacted, as they were at the Government House having a meeting with the government officials over the issue in an effort to find an amicable solution.
When contacted, however, the spokesperson of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), Major Ishaku Takwa, said no soldier fired any bullet on the students, explaining that soldiers went to the area to dismantle the roadblock mounted by the students.
He said: “As you know, Jos has not recovered yet from the recent upheavals.
“We have it that whoever wants to embark on protest, the person must be cleared by the government. They haven’t done that.
“They went straight to the major road leading to the southeast and blocked. This can generate fears in the state and even to the road users.”
‘Nobody was killed’
Responding, the Plateau State Government debunked the news making the rounds in social media about dead casualties in the shooting, saying that no casualty has been recorded, but that some students sustained injuries and have been taken to the hospital.
The government’s reaction which was contained in a statement by the Commissioner of Information and Communication, Dan Manjang, said it was when security personnel moved in to persuade the students to vacate the road and restore normalcy that a clash ensued between the students and security personnel.
“Plateau State woke up to a mild drama that saw the staging of agitation by students over the refusal to conduct examination by the academic staff as a result of a strike to drive home labour demands.
“As a result, activities at the institution were disrupted.
“This resulted in the blocking of the highway by students resulting in disruption of traffic along the ever-busy road.
“When security personnel moved in to persuade the students to vacate the road and restore normalcy, a clash ensued between the students and security personnel.
“Contrary to news making the rounds in the social media, no casualty has been recorded.
“However, some students sustained injuries and have been taken to the hospital and are responding to treatment,” the statement said.
Academic activities return
The statement added that at the meeting with union leaders, it was resolved that the lecturers should allow academic activities to continue while negotiations go on between the aggrieved unions and government over the said demands.
It said the implication of this is that students will continue with their examinations according to plan, adding that while the government recognises the right of both students and staff to press home their demands, it enjoins all and sundry to do so with all civility and in accordance to the rule of law.