The University of Abuja has stated that some elements among its students are the ones responsible for the ongoing protest, saying it had addressed the contentious issues.
In a scanty statement which failed to touch on the cause of the protest - fees’ increment, the university through its Head of Public Relations, Dr Habib Yakoob, also kept mum on the deployment of soldiers who were seen on Monday afternoon harassing and shooting teargas canisters at the protesting students.
Yakoob stated that the university had met with the students’ leaders and resolved the issues.
He said, “The students said they were demanding the reopening and extension of school fees payment portal, cancellation of late registration fee, and postponement of exams till March 8. The University Management states that following the release of 2019/2020 Academic Calendar by the Senate of the university, the registration of students was to be done in four weeks.
“Following the expiration of this process, the university closed the portal in February 2020 in line with the 2019/2020 Academic Calendar. Yet after pleas from the students’ union, the Vice-Chancellor, in his magnanimity, twice directed the reopening, at different times, of the portal to accommodate those who didn’t register on time.
“Consequently, the portal was reopened on Sunday, 31st January, 2021 for registration, for another two weeks – till February 14, 2021, and the students were duly informed. Again, the late registration fee for those who had not paid their school fee as well as those who paid but did not register, was waived; and late registration fee of N5,000 was to be refunded to students who had earlier paid.
“The University Management, is however, surprised that while so many of our students were excited to be resuming to campus today after ten months at home, they were held back by some elements among students who are protesting the same issue that had already been addressed by the university.”
Students of the institution had on Monday protested at the main campus gate in the Giri area over the increment of their tuition fees by the school authorities.
The students, led by their union, carried various placards, saying the authorities led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Rasheed Na’Allah, implemented over 100 per cent increment in fees, a step they described as insensitive to the plight of Nigerians.
On social media, the students have created #EndUniabujaOppression, while calling on the school management to rescind its decision and open the portal for students to register.
One of the leaders of the Students' Union Government in the school explained why the students embarked on the protest.
He said, “This sudden increment and refusal to be considerate and sensitive enough to show empathy to struggling students has led to the dropping out of some students that can’t meet up financially. True to his word, the VC closed the portal for payment. Then, there was the pandemic break and ASUU strike. Since there was news of a possible resumption and examination dates set, SUG has been pleading for the portal to be reopened so as to allow students.
“In light of this, we are calling on all well-meaning Nigerians to come to University of Abuja students’ aid and not allow this obvious oppression and intimidation of students to go without a proper redress. Our future is at stake and we won’t fold our hands to watch it being delayed.”