Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government Thursday disclosed that the violent protest at the Niger Delta University (NDU), last Tuesday led to the massive destruction and looting of vital assets owned by the institution.
The Commissioner for Education, Mr. Jonathan Obuebite, the Commissioner of Police Don Awunah, Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Gowon Edoumiekumo, and members of the management team visited the school on Thursday to assess the level of damage by the “armed hoodlums” majorly from the community.
The clash, which resulted in some casualties, occurred after security operatives tried to forcibly open the institution which had been under lock by persons from the communities whose names were removed from the payroll for various offences.
Speaking during the visit, Obuebite said that the persons did not only carry out a protest by locking and welding the university gate, but also looted computers, television sets, refrigerators, and other vital properties belonging to the institution.
While regretting the casualties arising from the violence, he said the sponsored hoodlums took charge of the protest, leading to its bloody outcome.
“It is unfortunate that politicians who have fallen out of favour in the system will vent their frustration by sponsoring armed hoodlums to attack security operatives. We as a government are committed to this reform and we will not go back on it.
“We will not allow blackmail or cheap propaganda from the opposition to deter us. NDU must be repositioned to become a world class university,” he said.
On his part, Awunah said after assessing the damage and the property stolen, he directed the command’s Tactical Commanders to apprehend the suspects and recover the stolen items.
He said: “The Tactical Commanders immediately swung into action and on 21st March, 2018 at about 1800hrs, based on actionable intelligence, and the combined effort of local vigilante, policemen raided a criminal hideout at Ogobiri community, Amassoma and recovered seven computers stolen from the ICT centre NDU and a ceiling fan.”
Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Moses Cleopas, has said that it was more than a mere coincidence that only All Progressives Congress (APC) officials were killed in a massively PDP-dominated Amassoma community.
According to him, “the so called” APC members are not employees of the Niger Delta University as shown by the records of the institution and were not affected by the ongoing implementation of the public sector reforms in the university.
He argued that in the event of an industrial action in any agency, it is expected that the key players in such a protest are those affected by the exercise.
He said that it was rather ‘sickening’ that a political party would sponsor carnage, destroy a police division, part of a university of their own state.
But spokesman of the APC in the state, Mr. Doifie Buokoribo, queried the criteria adopted by the government to designate people as criminals.
He insisted that the victims were deliberately targeted, noting that the clash last Tuesday was needless.