At least four students were shot dead while four others were wounded yesterday when soldiers and policemen fired shots to break riots over lack of water at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi.
The protest began “spontaneously” at about 7.30am by few students at their hostels but it soon snowballed and spilled into the street, according to student union leader Rabiu Omame Tijani.
“Some students called me and informed me that there was a protest. I had to rush out of my room and head straight to town to speak with the water board people. On return, I discovered the protest spilled into the road,” he told Daily Trust by telephone. Public water supply stopped in Keffi for nearly two weeks now, and the state water board blamed power cuts from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
The protesting students blocked the road, chanting “No Water, No Road.” This disrupted flow of traffic for hours, until armed security personnel broke off the riot. At about 8.30am, the university’s registrar Mamman Dalhatu drove to the scene of the protest in company of the Chief Security Officer, John Aboh, to try to calm the students. Later yesterday, the university authorities announced a closure of the campus and ordered students to leave.
“For the avoidance of doubt, any student who remains on or around the campuses does so at his or her own risk as security forces have been notified of this closure,” a statement by the registrar said.
A spokesman for the Federal Medical Centre in Keffi, Jamilu Nagogo, confirmed that six people were brought in with gunshot injuries, one of them already dead while one other person died later at the hospital. State police spokesman, DSP Michael Ada, confirmed that there was shooting but said he was only aware that “two students were injured.” University spokesman Jamil Zakari, for his part, said he heard of the shooting incident but could not confirm any deaths.