OPERATIVES of Imo State Police Command have detained 23 students’ leaders of Federal University of Technology, Owerri.
The detention followed students protest on February 17, 2017 against the hike in tuition fees, course registration and internet fees, among other grievances.
The peaceful protest was hijacked by suspected thugs, leading to the reported vandalising of the school’s Senate building, Information and Communication Technology centre and attack on a branch of Diamond Bank situated on the campus.
Fifteen students were arrested by the police and later released on bail to their parents.
On Monday, the students, who were asked to report to the state Police Command headquarters for briefing in line with the strategies to restore normalcy in the university were reportedly thrown into the cell again.
The only student, Collins Ogbonnaya, who was released on bail by his lawyer around 6.30 pm, told our correspondent that 23 others students were cooling their heels in the police cell as of the time of filing this report.
He said, “As early as 9am today (Monday), I, alongside other students being persecuted for crying out for social justice at Federal University Of Technology, Owerri, who chose not to be like other sister institutions with lowest tuition fees, went to the Commissioner of Police office for briefing as regards the peaceful protest in February, only to see ourselves detained for the second time.
“It took God’s intervention for me to be granted bail same today at about 6.37pm, but over 23 others are currently in detention at the police headquarters in Owerri.”
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the University, Chikezie Ezenwa, said his office was not aware that the students were rearrested.
The spokesperson for the police in the state, Andrew Enwerem, said the students were only invited, but were not detained.
Enwerem, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said, “No student was detained. The truth is that the matter was transferred from Owerri Area Command to the state CID. They were allowed to go after meeting with those handling the matter.”