Two Shot Dead, Several Wounded In UB Strike

Par Ernest Sumelong | The Post
- 30-Nov-2006 - 08h30   75236                      
The two, whose names we could not immediately get, were both shot point blank in the face around the University Junction. The corpses and the wounded were all rushed to the Buea Provincial Hospital Annex...
As we went to press at midnight on Wednesday, November 29, two students were shot dead and several wounded in the ongoing strike at the University of Buea. The two, whose names we could not immediately get, were both shot point blank in the face around the University Junction. The corpses and the wounded were all rushed to the Buea Provincial Hospital Annex. Earlier at 7.00 pm, that same day, heavily armed anti-riot police had entered the University campus and began beating students indiscriminately. They also fired tear gas at them. Some of the students who were reportedly beaten had been hospitalised by press time. As the anti-riot police descended on the campus, the students dispersed and filled the main road. They pulled down kiosks, billboards and other structures, setting them on fire. The police followed them and a running battle ensued.
More tear gas was fired and the students replied with a volley of stones. That is when gunshots rang out felling two students. By press time, it was alleged that more deaths had occurred in the Molyko neighbourhood. The Crisis The students had boycotted classes and besieged the campus on Monday, November 27, in protest of a list that Yaounde reportedly imposed on a list of candidates for the newly created Medical School in UB. The Vice Chancellor, VC, of the University, Prof. Cornelius Lambi, in a statement to the students had admitted that he had made a monumental error he said he committed by signing the list of successful students after they conducted the exams. "This is our first time of organising an examination that directly recruits trainees into public service. I want to apologise that I caused the problem because I signed a list that the Minister was supposed to endorse," Lambi told students.
(Remains of the two slained students at the Buea provincial Hospital Annex)
According to him, no extra list was imposed but that the Minister had increased the number of students to be admitted into the orals from an original list of 127 to 153, to give more students a chance. The text that created the Department of Medicine did not state if the Minister has to sign the list of successful candidates before the orals and so many supposed that the VC was right to sign the list, although he was taking the blame. The text, however, makes it clear that the Minister signs and endorses the final list of successful candidates after the orals. Many argue that the VC feared to say the truth. UB sources confirm that an additional list had been sent from Yaounde and UB authorities had frowned at it. A student wounded on the rib Prof. Lambi's statements angered the students who had wanted him to denounce the new list and maintain the original one he signed. The students, besides the list, had, in a memorandum, denounced the hike in fee of postgraduate programmes, payment of FCFA 1000 for collection of transcripts, poor quality food at the restaurant among others. Addressing the issues, the VC remarked that the money paid to collect transcripts would be maintained. He said the university could not step down fees for postgraduate programmes since the institution lacks funds to run the programmes. One of the student representatives, who spoke anonymously, told The Post that they could not accept fraud in the university. He said their action is in solidarity with their brothers who would be denied a place to study medicine and given to some undeserving people, whom they are sure did not write the exam. Students also questioned why the Registrar, who had launched an aggressive fight against corruption and fraud in the university, suddenly kept sealed lips. Destruction In the afternoon of that Monday, the VC caused an announcement on radio, calling on the medical students to come for orals. The jury came from in and out of Buea, met and the orals commenced at the Central Administration. Students later got wind of it, assembled at the venue of the orals. After desperate calls for the orals to stop, the embittered students overturned and destroyed lecturers' cars parked in front of the administrative building. The incident has drawn sympathy from many Anglophones who regret that the Yaounde administration wants to squeeze out the only opportunity they have to train their children in Medicine. Agbor Tabi Humiliated Prof. Agbor Tabi, former Higher Education Minister and now Pro-Chancellor of the University of Buea, breezed into Molyko, probably to calm the waters, but the students chased him away. Some students recalled his excesses in his days as Minister and did not want to listen to him. Despite his resistance, the students pushed him to the main road asking him to leave them alone. When The Post approached him afterwards for comment he declined, spitting out invectives. The students are determined to continue the strike unless the original list of 127 candidates is maintained and they are admitted for orals. They also want an immediate publication of the findings of the alleged Presidential Commission for the murder of two students during the April-May 2005 university strike. The University authorities were yet to make a definite statement on the issue. SYNES Condemns Destruction The National Union of Teachers of Higher Education, SYNES, UB Branch, has condemned, in very strong terms, students' resort to the destruction of public and private property. They also deplored students' threats issued against academic staff including the destruction of their (lecturers') cars and offices. They, therefore, held the leaders of the students' strike responsible for the consequences of the attack on academic staff. They called on the Minister of Higher Education to take prompt steps to find solutions to the underlying problems associated with the students' strike.

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