Akpabio's N15M Largesse: Five Students Feared Killed, Many Wounded
UYO, March 04, (THEWILL) - Five students have been reportedly killed and many others wounded over a N15 million cash gift to Akwa Ibom State students by state governor Godswill Akpabio and his running mate.
The incident occurred on Thursday evening in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
THEWILL gathered that over 5000 undergraduates of tertiary institutions in the state which include; University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Asura and Uyo City Polytechnic had gathered at the Government House on the invitation of the duo to woo them for support in the April governorship election.
THEWILL also gathered that another 2000+ fresh graduates of the state had converged at the Ibom Hall grounds as the governor had promised them cash and immediate employment if he gets their support come April.
Trouble however started at Government House when most of the students realized that the coordinators of the largesse (Concerned Students For Godswill Akpabio) had set aside N4 million naira for themselves from the N10 million booty Akpabio had made available to that group of students.
THEWILL also gathered that state government officials mostly from the protocol unit of the Government House responsible for coordinating the whole sharing exercise hijacked the remainder N6 million naira for themselves when they realized that the students were uncoordinated.
The disappearance of the funds led to the beginning of protests that saw students barricading the entrance to Government House which later escalated to a riot and confrontation with security operatives.
Meanwhile, at the Ibom Hall grounds where the fresh graduates had gathered for the same purpose, the students had hoped to share another N3.5 million naira made available to them by Akpabio’s running mate, Obong Nsima Ekere, with a promise that an additional N2 million was forthcoming.
But one of the students THEWILL correspondent spoke to said when Ekere left the venue after his speech, government officials announced that only N2 million naira was made available to them.
Students at the Government House Gate before the riot.
“When they started sharing N1000 to each of the over 3000 persons that were gathered a bus drove in and some people started shooting sporadically, the money was taken away. They did not even pay up to 50 people when that happened.
“When we heard that the governor had given N10 million to undergraduates that went to Government House, we moved as a crowd to Government House and on getting there, it was war; real war between the police and students. People were running and falling on top each other and getting seriously wounded,” the eyewitness told THEWILL.
The middle aged lady had serious bruises on her hands and legs as well as a swollen face.
During the riot, which saw the police and students engage themselves, Government House workers were held hostage forcing businesses in Barracks Road and other adjourning streets to close doors.
The Students’ Union President of UniUyo, Comrade Essien Udoma confirmed that scores of students have been hospitalized but could not confirm where the dead were taken.
The state Police Commissioner, Mr. Sani Magaji said the police were called in to restore calm during the riot but added that operatives did not fire live rounds at the students that instead it used tear gas canisters and fired dud rounds.