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18 JOURNALISTS, MONARCH ESCAPE DEATH

By NBF News

Eighteen journalists narrowly escaped death on Tuesday in the hands of youths protesting the relocation of the College of Education from Ikere-Ekiti to Efon Alaaye by the state government. The angry youths, threatened to set ablaze the 18-seater bus in which the journalists travelled to the town to monitor the crisis, which started as early as 8:00am.

But for the intervention of Mobile Policemen at Ise Junction, the journalists would have been mobbed by the wild and weird-looking youths who were reeking of alcohol and Indian hemp.

The newsmen, however, escaped through the 70km Ikere-Ise-Kajola-Ijan route as Ikere-Ado route had been barricaded by the protesters.

Business and social activities were disrupted for several hours in the town as women and youths marched on the major road of the town that linked the state with Ondo State.

The protesters barricaded and set up bonfire at every junction on major roads.

The road leading to the palace of the traditional ruler of the town, the Ogoga of Ikere, Oba Samuel Adegboye Akayejo, was blocked with palm fronds.

Men of the Nigeria Police from the state command, including mobile and regular police officials, were removing barricades and extinguishing the bonfire with water.

The policemen in a convoy of 10 vans did not fire any tear gas, canister nor arrest any of the protesters who refused to vacate the roundabout close to Ikere main market when asked by the police to give way.

Shops and schools were shut and pupils sent back home as the protest raged.

The palace was cordoned off by stern-looking mobile policemen when the protesters attempted to attack the palace. The royal father was said to have been guarded out of his palace by the policemen to an unknown location.

The monarch was accused of conniving with the state government to relocate the college to Efon Alaaye.

The crisis over the college stemmed from the establishment of The University of Education by the state government in 2008 to replace the college, which was relocated to Ifaki.

Following the violent protest against the relocation, the state government reverted its decision and took the varsity to Ifaki temporarily.

After deliberation with the stakeholders of the town, the varsity was in April relocated to Ikere and the college to Efon Alaaye.

The grouse of the people was that the varsity was fulltime residential, which they believed would affect business and commerce in the community negatively.

In his reaction, the state Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Taiwo Olatubosun, said: 'Some people peddled the rumour that the College of Education had been relocated to Efon which was credited to me on a local radio.

We are not relocating the college of education, Ikere to anywhere.

The state Commissioner of Education, Bade Adara, revealed to newsmen that there was a fake circular, which purportedly emanated from the state Ministry of Education, which said the college had been relocated.

He denied the circular, stating that the issue of the college of education was not mentioned at the state council meeting.

Olatubosun, however, called on the people of Ikere and the state to 'ignore the antics of the anonymous rumour peddlers targeted at causing disharmony and confusion in Ikere. Government would not do anything against the interest of Ikere people as the state government had explored all democratic means cutting across all segments of Ikere people to ensure that the issue of the institutions-college and varsity were resolved amicably.'