Students of Ondo State government-owned Rufus Giwa Polytechnic Owo (RUGIPO), on Monday, went on protest to disrupt ongoing second-semester examinations in the institution.
The protest was held to challenge the decision of the management of the institution to institute a “no school fees, no examinations” policy.
The immediate cause of the protest, SaharaReporters learned, was the decision of the invigilators to chase some students out of examination halls for their inability to tender receipts of their tuition fees, an indication that they are yet to pay.
They were, however, joined by other students and sang songs, hurling abuses at the management as they trooped out of the examination halls en masse.
The aggrieved students destroyed properties of the school worth millions of naira and attacked some lecturers on the campus. The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) unit of the school was badly damaged and allegedly looted by the angry students.
SaharaReporters gathered that the management of the institution issued a circular threatening to stop students from participating in their examination for failing to pay tuition fees, a move that did not go well with the students.
Damaris John, a student in Mass Communication department, said the angry students forced other students out of their hostel to join the protest. She added that it took the intervention of mobile policemen drafted to the school gate to prevent the students taking their protest into Owo town. According to her, the school management and students had been at loggerheads over the non-payment of tuition fees since the first semester.
President of the Students’ Union of the institution, Comrade Temitayo Ayejuyo, condemned the protest and destruction of school properties. He explained that the leaders of the Students’ Union pleaded with the management of the institution not to implement its decision during the first semester examinations.
“The management allowed those (students) who didn’t pay to sit for the first semester examinations. Now, I wonder why the same set of students refused to pay before the second-semester exams. The destruction was uncalled for and we the entire Students’ Union Government body condemns in totality the attitude displayed by the students,” he said.
Mr. Rafiu Ijawoye, Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) of the institution, also described the action of the students as embarrassing and unacceptable.
He said the union, at its congress last Thursday, decided to allow the management conduct the second-semester examinations for the student.
“Having considered a lot of factors leading to a protracted academic session, which made the student spend over one year, we decided to allow the management to conduct exams for the students. And one of the conditions we (ASUP) put on board was that if any student fails to pay his/her school (tuition) fee, then such should not be allowed to write the exams,” he said.
He disclosed that many of the lecturers were attacked with stones by the aggrieved students during the protest.
Mr. Idowu Ologungba, Rector of the institution, neither answered calls made to his mobile lines nor replied text messages.