Anger as soldiers shoot three students over Ayade, Akpabio monetary gift
Three students of the University of Calabar and the Cross River University of Technology were allegedly shot by soldiers attached to the state security outfit, Operation Skolombo, on Saturday for demanding N13m given to them by Governor Ben Ayade and the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
While two of the students, identified simply as Samuel and Emmanuel, were from UNICAL, the third victim, whose identity could not be ascertained, was from CRUTECH.
The CRUTECH victim sustained minor bullet injuries, while Samuel and Emmanuel are currently receiving treatment at the Accident and Emergency Unit of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital.
The money was given to the students by Governor Ayade and Akpabio during an event to mark Cross River State at 50, but the situation took a different turn after the students waited several hours for the state Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Mr. Asu Okang, who was detailed to give out money.
PUNCH Metro learnt on Monday that the students stormed the road to protest against the delay, but soldiers used tear gas and live bullets to disperse them.
There were allegations that the commissioner contacted the state Security Adviser, Mr. Jude Ngaji, to send security men to disperse the students following disagreement over the sharing pattern of the largesse.
An eyewitness and student of UNICAL, Emeka Ikechukwu, said the students were not satisfied with the N3m that the commissioner wanted to disburse.
He said the students took the protest to the road after they suspected that the commissioner wanted to abscond with the N13m.
Ikechukwu said, “We learnt that it was the commissioner that called the state security adviser to disperse us by force. The commissioner had actually come with N1m for UNICAL students, N1m for corps members that were also mobilised, N500,000 for CRUTECH students and another N500,000 for students of the state School of Health Technology.
“But we felt that the amount was not what was announced. So, we sought to know where the balance was. That was how the trouble started.”
But the Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Mr. Asu Okang, denied the claims that he invited the security agents.
He also claimed that he had given all the money to the students, adding that the delay in getting the promised money from the finance commissioner was as a result of bureaucracy.
He said, “I was not at the scene when the students were shot and I never gave such order. The governor had made N10m promise and Akpabio also made N3m promise. Such money do not immediately translate to cash. But before I went to get the money, I gave them N3m for their mobilisation. They were not patient because before I came back, the students had blocked the road.
“The money came out after 8pm and I gave it to their leader. I felt bad when I heard that the students were shot. I heard it was the security adviser that deployed the security personnel in the scene. The students were not patient.”
Denying the claims that they had received the money, the President of Students Union Government, UNICAL, Mr. Anthony Afufu, said he had yet to see the commissioner since the incident happened.
He said he would mobilise the students for another protest if the commissioner failed to show concern to the injured students.
“Soldiers shot three students during our protest at Transcorp Junction. Two of the students are from my school, while the third one is from CRUTECH. They are all receiving treatment now at UCTH.
“I have not seen the commissioner since the incident happened; he is an alumnus of UNICAL. If he does not show up or show concern, we will protest to the governor against soldiers using live bullets on harmless students,” he said.Punch