Unsightly incidences that followed the strike action by students of the University of Buea, UB, on May 15, have left the Faculty of Agriculture's Poultry Farm House burnt down to ashes and some 26 suspected strike leaders arrested and detained. Damage on UB campus is estimated at FCFA 80 million.
The students who were previously held at the Buea Central Police Station have been transferred to the Buea Central Prison to await trial. They are due to appear in court on Monday, May 27. The Faculty of Agriculture's Poultry Farm House was razed and its farm crops destroyed at about midnight, Saturday 18, according to reports.
Those who burnt the structure are also believed to have plundered the newly constructed experimental farm house. The torched structure contained about 100 fowls, cans, wheel barrows and other farm equipment newly installed for use in agricultural research purposes. The damage is estimated at FCFA 10 million.
Locally manufactured petrol explosives were also used on campus on Friday, May 17, at about 4pm, during a friendly match between Njala Quan Sports Academy and UB Football Team, an event the University administration was using to welcome and reward athletes returning from the just ended Varsity Games in Ngaoundere.
During the match, masked dissident students emerged from nearby bushes and with the aid of locally made explosives, momentarily disrupted the encounter. They aimed their petrol-made explosives at the players who halted play for a while. The aggressors who were seen to be employing Nigeria style cult tactics to wreak havoc were repelled by the Vice Chancellor’s bodyguard.
The Farm House and the use of locally made petrol “bombs” on campus reportedly orchestrated arrests on and off campus by security officials. A supposed student ring leader, Remmy Sigala, was arrested, Saturday, May 18, at about 8pm, after a reported gun battle. Gunshots were heard around the Mile 17 end of UB Junction, fired by a security official in mufti, before Sigala was picked.
Meanwhile, the decision to suspend UBSU’s activities came up after the Committee of Deans and Directors, CDD, of UB held a meeting to review the fierce riot which occurred on the school campus on Wednesday, May 15. CDD published a press release on May 16, reeling the gravity of the riot, which caused severe human and material damages, valued at FCFA 80 million. The Committee also examined UBSU’s five-point demand, and after a heated argument, concluded that they were “baseless and bogus.”
“Marching during National Day is voluntary and patriotic; therefore the FCFA 2500 per student for refreshment will be maintained. The case against the students is a State matter, the VC being a witness like any other has no authority to withdraw it,” the press release reads in part. UB VC, Prof. Nalova Lyonga, simply described the band of students fomenting trouble as “money-minded and self-seeking individuals with very little urge to fight for issues related to students’ life on campus.”
“The criteria for selecting meritorious students for the President’s Prize of Excellence are still the same and a framework has made possible for those who think they have been left out unjustly to provide a justified appeal, rather than resorting to violence. Moreover, instead of handling union elections at departmental levels, they say they want to do it as they deem fit (…) so they want to be a mega structure in UB, that we cannot accept,” Prof. Nalova told reporters while officially receiving UB athletes who took part in the recent University Games. “Due to the raw nature of assaults and battery perpetrated on that day by this group of students, security measures have been stepped up to ensure the safety of students and personnel.
Our campus guards are not trained to tackle the kind of terrorism orchestrated here. That is why we have resolved to upgrade security measures,” the VC added. By press time, The Post learnt two more students were arrested on campus with knives, cutlasses and Indian Herm. Meantime, classes have effectively resumed albeit fears of another outbreak of violence. Police have been deployed and are visible on campus, combat-ready for any eventuality.
By Ernest Sumelong & Anthony Njie (Cameroon Post)