UNIUYO Security Chief Says VC, Deputies Induced Deadly Students’ Protest To Conceal Fraud-PREMIUM TIMES

A deadly student protest at the
University of Uyo, UNIUYO, which left
at least one student dead and key
offices razed a fortnight ago, erupted
after the Vice Chancellor and two
deputies repeatedly ignored red flags,
and indeed, fueled the crisis
presumably to save their skin from a
possible graft investigation, the
school’s chief of security has told the
National Universities Commission,
In a report he filed to the NUC, a
copy of which is in the possession of
PREMIUM TIMES, Okon Nyong, a
retired Army Lieutenant Colonel,
provided shocking details of the events
of June 12 to the commission, urging
broad inquiry into serious allegations
of negligence and fraud against
Professors Comfort Ekpo, the school’s
VC; Okon Ansa, the deputy vice
chancellor, administration; and Paul
Ekwere, the deputy vice chancellor,
Mr. Nyong said he was confident the
sloppy response from the school
management was deliberate to stir a
crisis that would raze documents and
other materials that could be
evidential in the event of graft
investigation against it.
“The protest was management-induced
to destroy vital documents to cover up
their corrupt practices in the system,”
the retired lieutenant colonel said.
The university remains shut after the
demonstration, which began peacefully
over inter-campus transportation that
tasked students N200 per day,
degenerated after police fired live
ammunitions killing at least one
Minutes after the attack, the students
rallied and burnt the VC’s office, the
examination and bursary unit and the
security post, witnesses said.
The school’s security chief provides
the first insight into how the
University management ignored
warnings of possible trouble and
insisted on withdrawing buses that
shuttled students between campuses
more than 10 kilometers apart.
The buses, almost free as students
paid only N1, 000 per semester, were
due to be replaced with those from a
private provider, AA Rescue; requiring
that students, mainly of engineering
and science faculties, pay N200 daily.
Governor Godswill Akpabio,
accompanied by Prof. Comfort Ekpo,
Vice-Chancellor, Uniuyo, inspecting-
properties damaged at the University
of Uyo town campus.
Despite the significant difference-with
the students having to spend N1, 000
weekly and N16, 000 a semester of
four months- Mr. Nyong said the
agreement with the operators excluded
students’ representatives, and the
school refused a sustained
enlightenment and a gradual
transition to the new order.
Authorities also rejected suggestions
for adequate security, including the
use of police to strategic offices,
before the withdrawals.
“The advice was ignored,” he said.
Early signs of troubles came after
students blocked an intra-campus
road a week earlier over a delayed
school bus, and also protested new
levies including N2,000 late
registration; N2,000 for a new general
course and N1,000 for a planned Arts
While the unrests were resolved,
tension hung in the air. Yet, the
school leadership insisted on changes
within days, the security chief said in
letters sent to the NUC. He confirmed
same details to PREMIUM TIMES on
“Why were they hasty in effecting the
decision despite the enormous
problems at hand?”Mr. Nyong asked.
With transit delays between Port
Harcourt and Uyo, the contracted
buses finally arrived on June 11; and
despite warnings, the school
management effected the changes a
day later, surprising hundreds of
students who had arrived at the main
campus to board buses to the
permanent campus for early morning
As hours mounted for the students,
with no buses in sight, senior officials
of the school, including the two
deputy V.Cs repeatedly rebuffed
suggestions they address the
increasingly restive students, Mr.
Nyong said.
After police fired and killed a student
hours into the initially peaceful
demonstration, students deposited the
corpse at the VC’s office, and set the
security office ablaze.
Mr. Nyong said he sought police
assistance to help secure the most
vital offices to no avail. While the
police milled outside, they insisted on
an official communication from the
school management to step into the
campus. For hours, neither the V.C,
nor the D.V.Cs obliged, Mr. Nyong
“Expressly, the inferno at the
University of Uyo, was caused by the
management’s disdainful treatment
and handling of security matters,
abrupt mismanagement and outright
negligence of security information,” he
Rescue efforts, including dousing the
fire, were done later at night with the
help of the State Security Service.
Vice Chancellor Ekpo refused to
comment when reached on telephone
on Wednesday. She responded to our
calls, identified herself, but left the
phone open repeatedly without any
response once the concerns were put
to her.
But beneath the cover of the June 12
trouble, staff and students of the
school speak of a deep-seated friction
in the school’s current leadership and
a complex management that makes it
hard to properly harness resources
and derive efficiency.
Substantiation for that claim may, in
some ways, lie in the fact that ahead
of the recent uproar, the university
remained amongst the most peaceful,
enduring years of calm with barely
student demonstrations, much more,
violent ones.
Mr. Nyong, who has served under
three Vice Chancellors in the school,
accused Mrs. Ekpo of handling
security matters with “emotion”; and
he suspects that may have to do with
a turbulent history they both share.
The Vice Chancellor particularly
ignored the many suggestions by Mr.
Nyong that may have helped avert the
student crisis, after he turned down
her request to recommend her
candidate for a security job, and also
criticized a shady N350 million loan
guaranteed by the V.C. for the
school’s irritable Non Academic staff
union-in a suspected bid to cow the
union, Mr. Nyong told the university
regulatory body, NUC.
“She felt challenged,” he wrote,
“especially when I made it known to
her that the office in question is for
senior officers, hence the need to
follow due process to advertise the
office, to attract competition so that a
better candidate can emerge. Since
then, she sought ways to frustrate me
out of the system.
The loan deal is currently under police
investigation and the affected
members of staff have been
questioned-but like a multitude of
corruption cases, may never be
The school’s security unit says it is
deprived of working devices, vehicles
and benefits. For instance, only one
Hilux patrol car is currently in use for
five campuses.
Despite their apparently precarious
functions, staff of the department are
denied Hazard Allowance of only
N15,000 whereas drivers are paid.
“Security staff work against armed
robbers, cultists, rapists, kidnappers,
mosquitoes, snakes, and other wild
animals under sun and rain. Whose job
then is more hazardous?” Mr. Nyong
asked, comparing security workers
with drivers who receive that
As the relationship became rockier,
the V.C. signaled early June she will no
longer be working with the CSO
beyond June. Pressured by other staff,
she offered an extension of only a
month-to end July. But after the June
12 crisis, Mr. Nyong was served a sack
letter three days later.
He said the move was preemptive; to
debar him from testifying should the
federal government initiate a probe
into the riot. He assured the NUC that
despite leaving; he will be available if
ever needed for details of the events.
“This is ridiculous,” he said. “I promise
to be available from anywhere to
render my account of the ugly
incident whenever I am invited.”

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