The Rector of Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Uwana, Afikpo in Ebonyi State, Professor Ogbonna Ibe-Enwo, has disclosed that the institution has been closed down indefinitely following a land dispute.
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 in Afikpo, Ibe-Enwo noted that the action followed a crisis that erupted between the host community and the institution over some parcels of land.
He said the order for the indefinite closure of the school became imperative in order to ensure the safety of the students and forestall possible reprisals from the host community.
He said, “Management took the decision in the best interest of the students. It is believed that the measure will also safeguard the property of the institution.
“We have directed all students to vacate the school today, Tuesday, May 19, pending the return of normalcy to the institution.
“In the meantime, we are negotiating with community leaders and other key stakeholders to ensure quick and amicable resolution of the crisis.’’
The rector described the development as unfortunate and called for understanding from the host community.
“This development is unfortunate and something that could have been resolved through dialogue.’’
However, the rector said security had been beefed up within the school premises.
Meanwhile, a source which pleaded anonymity, said the crisis started in the early hours of the aforementioned date when some of the aggrieved villagers invaded the school premises.
The source said the invaders destroyed properties and burnt tractors used for grading of the internal roads in the institution adding that no fewer than 1,000 angry youths made up the mob armed with machetes and other dangerous weapons.
According to the source, the angry mob also left many students severely injured while property worth millions of naira were destroyed.
When contacted, the state police spokesperson, Mr Chris Anyanwu, declined comments on the grounds that they were yet to be briefed on the incident.
However, a member of the community who preferred anonymity disclosed that the primary cause of the disagreement was as a result of the new structure erected on the disputed parcel of land which the community and the institution are both struggling for the ownership.