By Cynthia Johnson
A heated standoff unfolded at the entrance gate of Alex Ekwueme University Ndufu Alike, Ikwo (AE-FUNAI) in Ebonyi state on Tuesday, September 19th, as commercial motorcycle and tricycle operators took to the streets in protest of the institution’s recent ban on their operations within the school premises.
The protest, as reported by Quest Times, led to the blockage of the university’s entrance, disrupting the daily routines of students, lecturers, and staff during the morning hours. In response, law enforcement officers, including both police and military personnel, were eventually deployed to disperse the protesters and restore order to the area.
The decision to prohibit motorcycle and tricycle operators within the university’s premises was initiated by the institution’s management due to concerns over their disruptive behavior and the potential security risks they posed to the university community. This decision came on the heels of an incident last month when a lecturer was assaulted within the university premises.
AE-FUNAI spokesperson, Ifyke Elom, confirmed the incident and stated that normalcy had been reestablished following the intervention of security forces. Elom emphasized that the ban garnered favorable responses from students, lecturers, and the university community at large, as it contributed to a much-needed sense of calm and peacefulness on campus.
According to Elom, “They have been constituting serious nuisance in the school. They beat up a lecturer, harassing students, blaring horns, blasting loud music, and generally constituting a menace. So the university took a decision to ban them before the situation is exacerbated.”
On the opposing side, Njoku Ejike, the president of the Keke Riders Association, expressed his dissatisfaction with the ban. He claimed that there were ongoing issues between his association and the university’s security officials, citing the formation of a committee to address these concerns. However, the school management implemented the ban before the committee could conclude its work. Ejike also conveyed the concerns of frustrated community youths who lamented the loss of their lands without compensation or job opportunities within the university.
In contrast to the riders’ perspective, the chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) at AE-FUNAI commended the ban. He asserted that motorcycle and tricycle operators should not be permitted within educational institutions, criticizing their disruptive behavior and highlighting the safety risks faced by lecturers and students.
He referenced the incident where a lecturer was assaulted, saying, “Keke and okada are not allowed into other institutions of higher learning so why should AE-FUNAI be any different? They turned the school into a market place. The lives of our lecturers and students were put at risk. They assaulted a lecturer.”
“Keke and okada are not allowed into other institutions of higher learning so why should AE-FUNAI be any different? They turned the school into a market place. The lives of our Lecturers and students were put at risk. They assaulted a lecturer.”
To address the transportation needs of students and staff, the institution’s management, in collaboration with the Student Union Government (SUG) administration, is actively working toward providing shuttle bus services within the campus, as disclosed by the Student Union Government (SUG) President, Wilson Umahi.