LASU students during the protest | credits: Goke Famadewa
The environment in the Bolade-Oshodi, Isolo and Ikeja areas of Lagos State on Tuesday was tense as the police clashed with students of the Lagos State University.
The students were on a protest to push for a reduction in their school fees when the incident occured.
No fewer than 10 students were said to be in undisclosed hospitals, while 20 of them were said to have been arrested in the aftermath of the clash.
The students had on Monday in a press conference declared the week a week of mass action to press home their demands.
As early as 9am on Tuesday, they were said to have converged on the front of their school gate in the Ojo area, where they marched to the Ikeja and Oshodi markets to sensitise market women and traders on their plights.
The students were, however, said to have become exuberant, hitting vehicles, harassing passersby and causing gridlock during the protest.
It was said that some residents contacted the police.
A resident of Oshodi, who gave his name simply as Ganiyu, said, “The students were a bit wild. They started hitting vehicles and causing gridlock.
“Soon, the police came and there was confusion. The students threw stones at them, while the police responded by firing tear gas canisters at the students.”
But the President of the LASU Student Union Government, Nurudeen Yusuf, said the protest was peaceful.
He said it was the police that met them and started firing tear gas canisters to disperse them.
He said, “This morning (Tuesday), we mobilised and headed to Ikeja, from where we planned to go to the Oshodi Market to sensitise the market women and traders on why our fees must be reduced.
“As we approached Bolade junction, the Police ambushed us and started firing tear gas canisters. They even shot live bullets at us. In my presence, three students fell as a result of the suffocation from the tear gas.
“As I speak to you, over 10 of our students are lying in various hospitals and more than 20 of them have been arrested.
“We were not violent at all; we did not even break a single pane of glass. We were not armed, yet the police came shooting at us like criminals, they vandalised our vehicles in a bid to paralyse our movement.”
The students union president said the present fee regime in LASU negated the manifesto of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
“They are saying that the old fee regime cannot sustain the institution. But if the government cannot run LASU, it should close down the school. If Ogun State can run two universities and none of them is paying up to N100,000 as school fees, I see no reason why the Lagos State cannot sustain LASU.”
Another student, who declined to give his name, said the wish of of the students was for the present fees to be reduced before the commencement of the 2013/2014 academic session.
He said, “All we are saying is that the fees should be reduced before the commencement of the 2013/2014 academic session. LASU is fast losing her efficiency as a university. A school that is used to admitting more than 4,000 students now admits just 900 students.
“Yet, when you get to the school, there is no tangible infrastructure on ground to show for the fee increase. We will not stop until our demands are met.”
Spokesperson of the state police command, Ngozi Braide, confirmed the incident.
She said, “When there is a protest and hoodlums hijack the protest, police have to come in to ensure that nobody breaks the law.
“I learnt that the protest started from the school gate, from where the students moved towards the Oshodi area.
“The student wanted to start destroying things around the Oshodi Market, but the police were able to stop them and they were dispersed.
“I cannot confirm any arrest now because the police are still on ground at Oshodi.