Five students of the School of Health
Technology, Etinan, Akwa Ibom State have just
been arrested by the Police on the directive of
the State Commissioner for Health, Mr. Dominic
Ukpong. They were invited by the Commissioner
for discussion over the lingering crisis in the
school owing to high increment in tuition fees.
Instead of having dialogue with the students, the
Commissioner handed them over to the Police
and announced their expulsion from the school.
The leader of the students, Mr Joe Friday, told
NAN that the commissioner invited them to his
office for ‘dialogue.’
He said that they were surprised that instead of
dialoguing with them, Ukpong asked them to sign
an undertaking not to further participate in
protest over the hike in tuition fees.
Friday added that when they refused to sign the
undertaking, Ukpong said that it was an insult on
his person and the ministry and told them they
had been expelled from the school.
He said: “The issue is that we wanted the school
fees to be reduced.
“The commissioner asked us to come for
dialogue; but when we got to his office, we
discovered that we were invited for another
thing, not for dialogue on increase in school
“We were asked to sign an undertaking that we
were not going to cause trouble in the school if
we should be allowed to remain in the institution.
When we refused to sign the undertaking, the
commissioner said we were insolent and stood
expelled from the school.
“The news of our expulsion was even broadcast
in the state-owned radio station, Akwa Ibom
Broadcasting Corporation (AKBC), on
Friday listed the other students affected by the
action to include Ekanem Ezekiel, Ekanem Okon,
Ekpo Inyang and Paul Emmanuel.
He explained that the under the new fees, fresh
students (indigenes) would pay N74,000 as
against N36,850 while non-indigenes were
charged N81,300 as against N36,850.
He said that returning students are to pay
N41,500 as against N13,350 before the increase.
When contacted, the commissioner said that
NAN correspondent had no right to call him
directly to talk on the issue.
He said: “Did you get this from my information
officer? Talk to my information officer. You can’t
call me directly and begin to talk to me.”
Speaking to our correspondent, Inibehe Effiong
said; “The students were asked to sign an
“undertaking” which I told them not to sign. The
leader of the students and some of his
colleagues refused to sign it while others signed
it ostensibly out of fear. As it stands, the
demands of the students have not been
addressed. I’m told that the purported expulsion
of the students was announced by 3pm today on
the state owned television. I take that as a mere
rumour. I do not believe that the mental state of
those oppressing these students is that bad.”
We will follow this matter to the end, He said.