Several sources in the University of Lagos have confirmed that a female English Language student lost consciousness today after inhaling toxic teargas fumes discharged into the air by policemen at the campus gate as the students attempted to commence a ‘Day Three’ protest against the re-christening of their 50 year-old institution.
The students had converged at the Campus gate, defying security warnings, to march on the streets. The policemen deployed to the area dispersed them by discharging a canister of teargas. Eye witnesses say thick fumes from the teargas engulfed the protesters, bringing down one of them. A source at the university’s health center on the UNILAG campus confirmed to us that the lady, partly identified as Funmi, has recovered from her respiratory distress and is back on her feet.
As of the time of filing this report, many of the students had started moving out of the campus to their various homes. The main gate has also been closed against entry while electricity supply has also been disconnected from the various hostels. The students had protested the renaming of the institution by President Goodluck Jonathan in his nationwide television broadcast during the ruling party’s Democracy Day.
Once the students heard the abrupt renaming, they immediately poured into the streets of Lagos. Among other actions, they barricaded the Sabo-Yaba access roads to the Campus gate. The protest continued on Wednesday as the students, who complained about the loss of the name recognition of the university, ignored a drizzle and invaded the Third Mainland Bridge, thereby worsening the city’s traffic situation.
Yesterday, during the funeral service for the university’s former Vice Chancellor, Late Babatunde Shofoluwe, the students took their protest to the premises of the All Saints Church at Yaba. It took the persuasion of the school’s authorities and the security chiefs present at the funeral service to calm the students who occupied the Herbert Macaulay way with the train conveying the body of the Late Vice Chancellor.
Leaders of splinter groups formed to protest the re-christening of the University have threatened to continue the fight in court. Already, a graduate student of the university has sued President Jonathan and the Attorney-General of the Federation in a Lagos court, challenging the name change.