No fewer than two students of FIDEI Polytechnic, Gboko in Benue State were feared dead as and when protesting students of the institution clashed with policemen and suspected hoodlums on Wednesday.
This is as another student was said to have been hospitalised and two policemen injured in the clash while properties worth millions of naira were destroyed.
The crisis was said to have broken out in early hours of Tuesday and ran through Wednesday evening.
An eyewitness told Punch Ng that among the properties destroyed were the school bakery, bursary, ranch and pen house.
Trouble, an eyewitness, Terfa Guum, told our correspondent on the telephone, started when some final year students who had not paid their fees were barred from taking the second semester examination.
The students were said to have gathered and embarked on a peaceful demonstration to protest their exclusion from the examination as well as delay in the issuance of examination permit.
FIDEI polytechnic is owned by Rev. Fr. Chris Utov of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi.
Guum said immediately the protest commenced, policemen stormed the school premises firing teargas canisters and shooting sporadically.
He said, ‘In the process, a student was hit on the chest and he died instantly while another died at the hospital.”
As the crisis raged on, hoodlums known as ‘Shawa’ were said to have entered the institution to dislodge the students but they were overpowered by the students.
The authorities of the polytechnic, however, had since shut down the institution and also announced the outright cancellation of the examination.
Angered by the cancellation, the students were said to have regrouped and embarked on a massive destruction of the school property.
When contacted, the Rector of the institution, Ugo Abah, said he was on his way to the Police Headquarters, Makurdi to lay a formal complaint.
When contacted, the Benue State Police Command Public Relations Officer, Moses Yamu, said ‘’ Yes, there is crisis going on at the FIDEI Poly, Gboko. Miscreants and students overpowered policemen during a peaceful protest in the school and in the process, two police officers were injured and six vehicles, one belonging to the police, were damaged.” *Yimu* They will always defend themselves.
Yamu further added that one student was stabbed to death by the miscreants and that the police were not aware of the death of the second person.
The PPRO also said 21 persons had been arrested in connection with the crisis.