Over 500 students under the aegis of Joint Campus Committee (JCC) in Anambra, yesterday shutdown both lanes of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway protesting alleged extortion, rape of female students and intimidation by officials and agents of the state government.
The placard carrying students who started their protest from Amawbia axis of the expressway at first blocked one of the lanes, making movement difficult for those coming from Onitsha area and later shutdown the two lanes on getting to the popular Aroma Junction.
For about two hours, vehicular movement was at a standstill as the students sat down on the highway chanting solidarity songs, demanding that Governor Willie Obiano should address them or they would remain on the road. Some of their placards have inscriptions such as “Voice of students must be heard,” “Students say no to intimidation,” “Uju Akudo must go,” “Commissioner for Transport encouraging touts” and “Sack commissioner for Transport.”
Attempts by the police team led by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), B-Division, Awka, Mr. Anthony Akpeyi, to disperse them from the highway failed until a re-enforcement team led by Superintendent Willie Odumu arrived from the state Police command headquarters and convinced the protesters to leave the highway.
Odumu who addressed the crowd told them that they had right to peaceful protest, but should not disturb public peace in the process, just as he assured them that their grouse had been noted. He pleaded with them to make way for motorists and other road-users.
Speaking to newsmen, the Chairman of JCC in Anambra, Betty Okoye said the students could no longer condone the situation where agents who claimed to be working for the state government would inflict hardship on students, alleging that agents of government frustrated the bus station designated for students’ shuttle park in Onitsha.
According to him, students of Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe who used to pay between N50 and N70 in the designated park were now made to pay between N150 and N200 in the agents designated park.
“It is painful that the only thing we are supposed to enjoy from government is being denied us by its agents in the transport ministry. They have prevented us from using the park that we created for ourselves to enhance our security and make the fare cheap. They are forcing us to pay through our noses.”
Also speaking, the president of the students union of Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe, Ejike Joseph said the students discovered that there was a disagreement between the management and the Urban Drivers Welfare Association (UDWA), which led to intimidation, harassment, extortion of money and raping of a female students by the members of UDWA over increase in the transport fare.
“For security reasons we want the state government to ban, with immediate effect, members of the Urban Drivers Welfare Association from plying the school route. We give the state government seven days to either implement our demand or we will bring the National Association of Nigerian Students to Anambra State.”