There was disorder at the Delta State Government House on Wednesday as policemen teargassed members of the National Association of Delta State Students (NADESSU) protesting Governor Ifeanyi Okowa over the non-payment of their bursary.
The students shut down the bursary board office in Asaba before proceeding to the State Government House, where they were met by officers of the Anti-Terrorism Squad attached to the Government House.
The confrontation between the students and police officers degenerated when the students vowed not to leave the premises, causing the police to call for reinforcements from the Delta State Police Command at a nearby station along Ugbolu Road.
In an attempt to disperse the students, police fired teargas canisters at the peaceful protesters.
Following the ensuing stampede, a driver of a Peugeot Frontier made a U-turn in an attempt to avoid the protesters, but rammed into a tricycle rider. Four were injured in the crash and taken to the hospital.
Speaking during the protest, the National President of NADESSU, Samson Agolo, and the National Vice President, Imalah Ugoachanum, condemned in its entirety what they called the inhuman treatment of Delta State students the Okowa administration, adding that the protest was targeted at the state bursary and scholarship board in addition to the state government.
A student of Delta State University, Abraka, who simply identified himself as Louis, said, “Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the State Scholarship Board have been playing partiality in the disbursement of the bursary. We learnt that the governor directed the board to pay students from his Ika extraction while students from other parts of the state should not be paid for now. As we talk, a large number of us have not been paid.
“That is why we Delta State students, under the National Association of Delta State Students (NADESSU), moved from all institutions across the country to Asaba to know why Governor Okowa should be selective in his payment of the bursary. The police began to intimidate and use tear gas on us, but we will not leave here until Okowa addresses us and those of us who are detained are released because we came here complete and we must also leave here complete.”
Another student who gave her name simply as Rosemary similarly lamented the situation.
“The Okowa government is a scam. Okowa is also hostile to students and this was how he terminated the scholarship scheme for first class students of Delta State origin. We were mercilessly brutalized by the police, and even as we speak, some of our female students who could not withstand the tear gas while trying to run were overpowered by the police and were beaten and arrested,” Rosemary said.
Our correspondent gathered that one student leader whose name could not be ascertained was arrested and detained along with other student protesters.