By G9ija

The Chairman of the Plateau State branch of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Simji Innocent, has confirmed that one student died during Monday’s protests by students of the institution.

According to the chairman, the student was shot dead by security operatives deployed to disperse the protesting students at the main campus of the polytechnic in Heipang, Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of the state on Monday.

Simji said, “What happened was that when the students were protesting, the government called us for a meeting and pleaded with us to suspend the strike and continue with the examinations. But we told them that it is not possible.

“But now, the Mopol and other security agents sent to the Heipang campus of the polytechnic to stop the students’ protest have shot and killed one of the students. The Chairman of the Non-Academic Staff of the Polytechnic has just secured an ambulance to convey the corpse of the student to the state Specialist Hospital in Jos. It is very unfortunate. We have scheduled another meeting with the government tomorrow.”

But the state Commissioner for Information, Dan Manjang, in a statement after the meeting on Monday denied that any student was killed during the protest.

The commissioner said, “Plateau State woke up to a mild drama that saw the staging of agitation by students over the refusal to conduct examination by the academic staff as a result of a strike to drive home labour demands. As a result, activities at the institution were disrupted.

“This resulted in the blocking of the highway by students resulting in disruption of traffic along the ever-busy road.

“When security personnel moved in to persuade the students to vacate the road and restore normalcy, a clash ensued between the students and security personnel.

“Contrary to news making the rounds in the social media, no casualty has been recorded. However, some students sustained injuries and have been taken to the hospital and are responding to treatment.

“At a meeting with labour leaders of the Polytechnic, Executives of the Student Union Government of the Institution, Management of the School and Government officials, led by His Excellency the Deputy Governor, Professor Sonni Gwanle Tyoden, it was resolved that the lecturers should allow academic activities to continue while negotiations go on between the aggrieved unions and Government over the said demands.

“The implication of this is that students will continue with their examinations according to plan.

“While Government recognizes the right of both students and staff to press home their demands, it enjoins all and sundry to do so with all civility and in accordance to the rule of law.

“Plateau State belongs to all citizens and as such the agitation for one’s right should not deny the rights of others. Therefore all must strive not to rupture the peaceful coexistence which has been built over the years, particularly in the face of recent developments.”