Students of Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Owerri, Imo State, have staged a protest over the alleged murder of one of them last week.
The protest was led by the President of the Student Union Government (SUG), Chukwuebuka Eze, on Monday.
THE WHISTLER gathered that an undergraduate of the institution, Anthony Emmanuel Chinweotito, died last week from injuries allegedly inflicted on him by the caretaker of Ezinwanne Lodge (an off-campus lodge) within the school community.
Speaking to our correspondent in Owerri, the SUG president said Chinweotito’s death stemmed from a disagreement between students who live off-campus and their landlords.
The landlords were said to have hiked the rents and required final year students to pay for full year rent when they only have six months to spend before graduating.
Eze said, “The root cause of the incident borders on disagreement between landlords/caretakers of off-campus lodges and their occupants which majority are students of Federal Polytechnic Nekede.
“We had a meeting with the school management last week to plead our case with the landlords of this off-campus lodges to reduce the exorbitant price hike on rents and to the reach an agreement with the landlords that ND final and HND final students will pay half year rent (which is a 6 months’ rent since they have limited time to stay in the school).
“After the meeting, the school management failed to communicate to these landlords or give us a working document and it started causing issues in our various off-campus hostels and lodges.
“Some landlords have refused to oblige, while others have started working with the students on the resolution.
Narrating how Chinweotito allegedly died, the SUG president said the deceased was violently battered by the caretaker, leading to eventual death.
Eze said it was a horrid event that could only be resolved if justice was served, as the incident was the second time a student would be dying under disturbing circumstances since their resumption of academic activities recently.
“I am on a solidarity march for him now inside the school. The student is an ND1 student in Building Technology department of the School.”
He said some of the students had requested to see their landlord to explain their plight to him, but that “the caretaker refused to give them access to see the landlord and that he was the only person authorized to have the landlord’s number. The students told him they want to plead with the landlord if he could reduce the rent for them, but the request angered the caretaker and he disconnected their light and water.
“So, the students came back from exams and became stranded and decided to restore light to the lodge themselves so they could pump water to bath while they prepared for their next paper.
“The caretaker came in angrily and asked who turned on the water and they students said they did, the caretaker brought out a saw and started cutting the water source.
“The action made the student to drag him out from continuing of the premises and during the process, he inflicted a minor injury on one of the students.
“After the incident, some male occupants of the lodge went out to watch football and it was only the victim, few other boys and female occupants that did not go out.
“The caretaker came again with a complain that he was looking for his phone and accused the deceased of stealing his phone, he pushed the boy and hit him with a stick.
“The boy fell and was rush to The Federal Medical Center Owerri (FMC). I personally went there to see him when he was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The parents tried everything to save his life, but they could not because the injury was much. They even carried out a surgery on him because it was not a minor case.
“We are demanding justice for him, the killer must never go unpunished and the school management should take it up as their case, they should not keep quite over it. That is why we are on a solidarity march.”
When asked if he had made reports or formal complaint to the school authority before embarking on the solidarity match, he said he had called and sent text messages across to members of the school management and is backing those efforts with the solidarity march to drive home the students’ demands.
“I placed calls and text messages across to the school management over the weekend. The march today is to show how bittered we are because this is not the first time a student will be killed by owners or managements of lodges around the school.”
He also recounted a disturbing incident that happened weeks ago, where a landlord allegedly butchered a student to bits, packed the dismembered body in a Ghana-must-go bag and discarded it in a refuse bin.
He stressed that with the killing of students by the owners and caretakers of this lodges, the lives of students would no longer safe if the culprits were not brought to book.
“We have an incident currently where a landlord allegedly butchered a student, dismembered the student into parts, stuffed his chopped body in a Ghana-must-go bag and discarded it in a refuse bin.
“We decide to keep calm over that issue because the student is not a registered student, he was just a HND one student and the village where the said incident took place told us to hold our peace that they would intervene because it is a taboo in their culture for somebody to use a knife to dismember a human being to bits. They have apprehended the landlord and those that partook in the heinous crime.
“So, if this gory incident can happen within a month, I don’t think we are safe. We need decisive actions to be taken. We cannot be living with people who are murderers and killers.
“All we need is justice for Anthony, if the school management do not hide to our calls, the SUG will champion another solidarity march to the Imo state government and the Imo state Judiciary.
“We need justice and nothing else. After meeting with the school management later today, we will create a twitter hashtag for Anthony Chinweotito Emmanuel
“The management knows that we are not happy, and they are doing everything to calm us down.
“The student union government of Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Owerri of which Anthony Chinweotito is a registered member, demands justice. No amount of rent is worth the life of a student,” the SUG president added.