Police fire shots at protesting UTME candidates
Hundreds of candidates wishing to sit for Monday’sUnified Tertiary Matriculation Examination escaped death in Jos after they were fired at by policemen called to maintain law and order.
This happened on Wednesday after they went berserk following the inability of the authorities to release examination slips to them.
The candidates had gathered at the Murtala Mohammed Way office of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board following announcements that they should come for the details of their examination centres.
One of our correspondents gathered that the candidates were asked by JAMB officials to leave their slips and come back later to collect their details.
However, the authorities were overwhelmed by the sheer number of students who had converged on the office.
The candidates were said to have become restive when the staff of JAMB were very slow in releasing the slips to them.
In the confusion that ensued, the officials closed their offices and asked the candidates to come back the next day. At this juncture, they became enraged and started smashing doors and windows of the offices.
The policemen were said to have fired gunshots in the air to disperse the candidates.
One of the candidates, who identified herself as Kemi, expressed dismay at the development, saying that the officials were endangering their lives. She said JAMB had chosen its office as the only centre to get the information instead of decentralising to other business centres.
She said many students would have been knocked down by motorists fleeing from the gunshots.
She said, “The huge number of candidates at the office was enough to attract any suicide bomber and in the event of any such incident, the casualties would be monumental.”
The Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Emmanuel Abuh, told one of our correspondents that the police were called to maintain law and order after the candidates became riotous.
He said, “The police only dispersed them because they constituted a great danger to motorists because the office is located at a major highway.”
Also, pandemonium engulfed the office of JAMB in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital and the College of Education, Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, as a result of protests by the candidates and students respectively.
While scores of candidates in Lokoja protested against the alleged plan by JAMB workers to cheat them by demanding extra charges than the stipulated fees, the students in Ilorin on Wednesday made attempts to disrupt examinations being taken by their colleagues.
Our correspondent gathered that some people had accused some workers in JAMB office in Lokoja of demanding more than the prescribed fees.
It was gathered on Wednesday that the aggrieved candidates stormed JAMB office in Phase 2 Lokoja and engaged the JAMB officials in a free for all which led to the collapse of the entrance gate.
One of the candidates, who spoke to journalists in Lokoja on condition of anonymity, said during the time they were purchasing the forms, JAMB officials allegedly demanded extra fee of N700.
He said, “Ordinarily we can do the registration online from any internet-based platform, but because they wanted to extort that N700 from each of the candidates, they gave the order.
“When it was time to check for our centres and get the print outs for Saturday computer-based test, they asked us to pay the money.”
The state JAMB Coordinator, Mr. Daniel Agbo, was said to have sought the assistance of officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps to bring the situation under control.
When PUNCH Metro visited JAMB office, a lady, who declined to disclose her name, but said she was a JAMB worker, said Agbo was not in office.
In Ilorin, the rampaging students disrupted the examinations being taken by their colleagues and other academic activities. They also obstructed the free flow of traffic on Ilorin General Hospital to Saw Mill Road.
Some of the students, who spoke with journalists in Ilorin, but declined to mention their names, said they embarked on the protest because some students were ejected from the examination hall for not paying certain levy of N4,500 called, “Course form fee”.
They further alleged that the protest was triggered off when some of them who had paid their schools fees were sent out of examination hall for not paying the course form levy.
But the Rector of the college, Dr. Isiaka Opobiyi, said the protesters had not paid their school fees and attempted to prevent those who had paid from taking their examinations.
He said, “The members of the school management are managing the situation.”