Abia - Gov. Theodore Orji will decide the fate of students of Abia State University Uturu, following the unrest that led to the closure of the school, Mrs Monica Phillips, the Commissioner for Education, has said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the protest that led to the closure of the university was sparked by the introduction of new tuition fees.
In its bid to enforce the new fees, the university authorities prevented defaulters from sitting for their examination, which forced the students to revolt.
``They (students) were asked to pay up their school fees just like every other school does but they revolted.
``It is purely the decision of the state governor to order the resumption of the university,” Philips said on Monday in Umuahia in an interview with the NAN.
The commissioner said the students were asked to vacate the school to calm tension and stop further destruction of property.
A member of the Students Union Government (SUG), who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that final year students of the institution were mostly affected by the decision.
``The final year students of the Faculty of Education that have not paid their fees were not allowed to write their papers on Tuesday when the examinations started.
``So the students forced themselves into the examination hall while the examinations were going on and tore all the question papers and answer sheets their colleagues were using,” the member said.
The SUG member said the students had pleaded with the school authorities to allow them write their examination ``since the tuition fees are on the high side but the school authority refused''.
``After a minor demonstration on the first day, the second day witnessed mass protest when it became obvious that the school authorities were bent on enforcing the ‘no fee no exam policy’,” he said.
Kenneth Onum, a student of the university, told NAN that students of the institution had been passing through difficult times as result of the increase in fees.
``Can you imagine that the least an old student can pay in the institution is N80,000 per session, while some of their counterparts in Federal Government institutions pay N10,000 per session,” he said.
Onum said that first year students in the university paid either N130,000 or N170,000 per session depending on the course of study.
``The school authorities should have allowed the final year students to write their examinations since they would still come back for clearance before going for the National Service,” Onum said.
Mrs Nma Olugu, a civil servant, criticised the action of the school authorities and described it as unjustified.
``It was not justified for the university to shut students out of their examination particularly when we (civil servants) are owed salaries for upwards of three months.
``Three of my children are in the school and where do they want us to get such money when we have not been paid,” Olugu said.
Speaking along the same vein, Mr Nwakamma Ibe, a pensioner said, ``I have my children in that school and we have accepted to pay the new fees, but how do we get the money when pensioners are not paid.''
NAN recalled that in a press statement signed by Mr Ernest Onuoha, the Registrar of the institution, the school authorities barred ``debtors'' from sitting for the examination.
The statement read in part, ``the Senate after its meeting has ordered that only final year students who have paid their school fees in full would be allowed to take their examinations.
``Final year students that failed to write the examinations as a result of no-payment of school fees would carry their courses over to a new session,’’ the statement issued to newsmen in Umuahia said.