General News of Tuesday, 23 October 2018
Several vehicles and motorbikes, among others, were destroyed by irate students of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi who only calmed down after armed soldiers were quickly dispatched to the campus on Monday morning.
The KNUST Student’s Representative Council (SRC) had called for a peaceful demonstration to drum home their grievances, but what was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration suddenly turned nasty to the chagrin of the school authorities and residents of Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital.
The students boycotted class on the day and decided to embark on demonstration to register their dissatisfaction with alleged maltreatment by the school authorities.
According to the students, they were fed up with the violation of their rights, intimidation by lecturers and clear attempt by the school’s authorities to break the student front.
They said they were being treated like common criminals on campus.
The KNUST SRC leadership, who led the demonstration, clearly lost control of the charged students that resorted to the destruction of items.
A Mercedes Benz saloon car registered GE 2673 – 09 parked at the campus security barracks was overturned on the KNUST Hospital Road.
A car belonging to the bursar was also not spared as the agitating students vent their spleen at management.
Windows of lecture halls, offices, security posts and cars were smashed with staff of the university, including top managers and security guards, fleeing the scene to escape deadly attacks.
The students, who were armed with lethal weapons, including stones and clubs, reportedly assaulted a female staff of the university at the Republic Hall, rendering her unconscious.
Windscreens of vehicles were smashed, motorbikes torched and other property of the school damaged, as the rampage continued.
The protest was in response to last Friday night’s arrest of 11 students of Katanga Hall, who were taking part in their usual end-of-week party known as jamborees, an activity the university authorities had banned.
Twenty other students were arrested yesterday, bringing the number of students arrested to 31.
Top management of the university, led by the Vice-chancellor, Professor Obiri-Danso, had said the jamboree, aka ‘morale’ is an activity that is often associated with misbehaviour and profanity on campus and therefore outlawed it.
School Shut Down
The university was subsequently shut down indefinitely from Monday.
This decision was reached because security had broken down and law and order could not be restored immediately.
The idea for the immediate closure of the top school was said to have been mooted by the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC) after a crisis meeting.
The authorities in the school had no other choice than to accept REGSEC’s suggestion by closing down the school until further notice, information suggested.
In line with this new directive, all Ghanaian students have been ordered to leave the school’s campus, latest by 12pm on Tuesday, to avoid trouble.
Arrangements were also being made by the school authorities with regards to the time and how foreign students would also leave the campus in peace.
The authorities have imposed also curfew on the school from 6pm to 6am as part of security measures to help restore law and order on the campus.
The chaotic scenes that were recorded at the school compelled REGSEC, led by the Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, to meet and hatch a proper security plan to help bring lasting peace to the KNUST campus.
The Regional Minister, later in the day, led a high-powered delegation from REGSEC to KNUST where they also assessed the extent of damage in the school and suggested closure.
Despite continuous announcement by the SRC that the students should boycott class and hit the streets to demonstrate on Monday morning, some of the students were seen going to lecture halls early on Monday.
Just a few students were seen making frantic preparations to take part in the demonstration.
Around 7:30am, about 300 students, mainly from the University Hall, popularly called ‘Katanga’ and Unity Hall, which were recently converted from male halls to mixed ones, were seen wearing red armed bands amidst singing of war songs, as they marched openly from hall to hall.
Few minutes later, the demonstrators, numbering now about 1000, mostly males, threatened to cause mayhem if the school authorities, especially the KNUST Security Team, continued to intimidate and attack them without justification.
The demonstrators, whose number kept increasing by the minutes, virtually blocked all the main roads on the campus with sandcrete blocks, chairs and tables, just to mention a few, which prevented vehicles, especially those of the workers of the school, from traversing the campus, from one end to another.
Lecturers Chased Away
Reports indicated that upon sensing danger, lecturers and other workers of the university, who were said to be sacred, fled campus in order to save their lives.
Even the presence of armed policemen, who were deployed to the campus early in the morning, did not prevent the students from misbehaving, as they continued to cause further mayhem.
Students Demand VC Head
Most of the students were seen holding placards with inscriptions that the Vice Chancellor of the school, Prof. Obiri-Danso, was an autocratic person and so the authorities concerned should quickly kick him out of office in order to save the student body from further harassment and intimidation.
Nana Yaw Addison, University Hall Secretary, who was part of the demonstrators, told the media that the students were fed up with the attacks on their lives and intimidations that they face each day, demanding the VC should be replaced with a new one without delay.
Soldiers Storm KNUST
At a point when things were clearly getting out of hand, the KNUST authorities were compelled to call in armed military men, who stormed the school’s campus in a brutal fashion.
The presence of the soldiers seemed to have worked for the school authorities, as the irate students had suddenly calmed down for law and order to return to the school.
NUGS Petitions Nana
In a related development, the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has condemned the attacks on the student.
“We will petition President Akufo-Addo latest by Friday to intervene so that the maltreatment that the KNUST students are suffering would stop,” Elisha Oheneba Asumey, of NUGS, told the media at KNUST on Monday.
He described Prof. Obiri-Danso as an autocratic person and demanded that heads should roll at the university, stressing that the school indeed needs a new VC who would listen to the concerns of the students.
Napo Meets VC
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh aka ‘Napo’, is expected to rush to KNUST today to help find lasting peace in the school.
The Ministry of Education, in a news release, which was authored by Vincent Ekow Assafuah, expressed concern about the happenings at KNUST.
The ministry, the statement said, expressed unhappiness with injuries to students, detention of students and destruction of property and called for calm from the parties concerned.
It was alleged from grapevine sources that KNUST authority’s decision to convert the University Hall and Unity Hall from a single sex malls to mixed sex halls had resulted in a bad blood between the school authorities and the students, and could probably be the cause of the current rumpus on the campus.