Tuition: Soldier opens fire on protesting OAU students

Asoldier escorting an ex-militant fired at the students of the Obafemi Awolowo Univetsity, Ile Ife, Osun State, who were protesting the hike in tuition by the management of the university.

The students had embarked on a peaceful protest over the hike since Tuesday and had continued the protest on Thursday, blocking the Ilesa-Ife Expressway for the second time.

Some students claimed that the soldier used live ammunition, but others said they were rubber bullets.

Our correspondent gathered that some soldiers, who were escorting a former militant in a convoy of about five vehicles with presidency number plate, were flagged down by the students who had barricaded the road.

Some students said that the ex-militant being escorted identified himself as High Chief Okubo Robert.

Robert, who came with a sport utility van, marked, FG902B02, angered the students when he ordered that soldiers should clear the students and the barricade from the road.

According to eyewitnesses, one of the soldiers, identified as Idris Ajisesin, with 448318 written on his uniform, fired four times at the students.

Sources among the students told our correspondents that the convoy subsequently drove over the barricade while the soldier fired shots at the students.

The bullets, a student said, injured three students, but added that the injured students were quickly attended to by their colleagues.

The shooting was said to have angered the protesting students who hurled stones at the vehicles in the convoy.

Windscreens and side glasses of some of the vehicles were said to have been shattered by the missiles from the students.

The President of the Students’ Union Government of OAU, Mr. Isaac Ibikunle, when contacted by our correspondent confirmed the shooting.

He added that the soldier fired live ammunition, but added that the injured students were treated and were okay.

The SUG President said, “We continued with our peaceful protest today (Thursday) and while at Ilesa- Ife Expressway, a soldier in a presidential convoy shot at some of our students. Rubber and live bullets were used.

The bullets hit our students and they slumped. Some students rushed there and resuscitated and treated them.

“They sustained injuries, but they are all okay now. Nobody is dead among them and we have vowed not to stop the protest until the fees are reversed.”

The students also took the protest to the palace of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, to get the feedback of the intervention of the monarch.

The protesting students met the governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Iyiola Omisore, at the palace. Omisore appealed to them to shun violence in their agitation.

The SUG President who later addressed the students, said the students would not stop the protest until the university management accede to their demand.

He said, “Our position has not changed. We are not ready to reverse our decision. We have consulted, negotiated, but they all failed. The administration doesn’t want us in school but we will not allow our future to be jeopardised. We want accountability. We want federal intervention; we are not militants, we have no gun and we will not allow a few minority to force us into illegal activities.

“We like the peace in Ife and if the whole community don’t want it disturbed , they should advise the OAU management to do the right thing. A presidency convoy shot our students today. If such repeat itself, we will lynch such person whether born of a woman or through incubator.”

The Public Relations Officer of the OAU, Mr. Biodun Olanrewaju, when contacted described the protest as youthful exuberance on the part of the students.

He urged the students to stage their protest within the ambit of the law saying the old fees were no longer realistic with the present economic realities.

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