NIGERIA - 3 Killed, 200 Injured as Students Protest Power Failures : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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The Guardian Online - Wednesday, June 21 , 2000

Three feared killed, 200 injured as varsity students protest power cuts

From Chido Okafor (Warri) and Alifa Daniel (Abuja)

THE gale of social unrests in the country continued yesterday with Abraka, host community of Delta State University (DELSU) recording one of its most violent eruptions in recent time.

The violence was however, not over oil royalties or land dispute, but against one of Nigeria's comatose service institutions: the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).

Also yesterday, new Power and Steel Minister Olusegun Agagu said NEPA required between N70 and N100 billion to refurbish its dilapidated facilities.

No fewer than three people were allegedly killed by security personnel while about 200 others were seriously injured in a multiple autocrash as the university students staged a protest against unending power outages.

The students numbering about 9,000 drove to NEPA's zonal office in Warri in about 400 vehicles most of which were seized and deployed to their use.

About 30 of such vehicles were involved in the multiple accident along Warri-Sapele road. The others who arrived Warri, came in a convoy of about 30 trucks, 150 cars and 80 buses.

The students, who outnumbered a combined team of Police, Army and Navy had initially invaded the NEPA office and vandalised several of the authority's equipment.

The situation grew worse, however, when more men from the Warri naval base joined the security team and fired tear gas canisters into the air. The students responded with stones and, further vandalised NEPA's facilities. In the ensuing melee, the three students were reportedly shot.

Public Relations Officer of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Zone B, Reuben Izeze said his colleagues embarked on the protest because, "since three weeks ago, DELSU has not had power supply."

According to him, several entreaties to the school authorities and state government yielded no fruits, noting that only two weeks ago, the Deputy Governor Benjamin Elue promised to look into their complaints.

He said: "We are commencing our examinations on June 3rd. On Monday, we waited for the authorities to respond, but no information."

Accordingto him, five NEPA officials abducted by the students were released on the intervention of NANS and; after the men had given assurances that power supply would henceforth be normal.

Agagu, who was on a working visit of NEPA facilities in Abuja said the problem was not insurmountable but urged Nigerians to be patient because the new technical board is working very hard to achieve the president's mandate of stable power supply by the end of next year.

"You can see that it is not a matter of time table or programming alone, it involves a lot of money," the minister said.

He hinted that in addition to concerted efforts to make NEPA work, the Power and Steel Ministry would connect between 250 and 300 communities in the country to the national grid before December next year.

Agagu said that with the planned electrification of these towns and increased economic activity in the new political dispensation, demand for power supply would increase.

To meet the demand, the government according to him, would work with the private sector to improve power supply.

On the incessant load shedding that has affected power supply to Abuja and parts of Niger and Nasarawa states, the minister said plans were afoot to build a 330KV substation in Katanpe district to improve electricity supply to the areas.

The 330KV line which will come in from Shiroro Hydro Power Station is expected to augment the 132KV that currently feeds Abuja and its environs.

President Olusegun Obasanjo recently approved a N55 billion action plan for the Liyel Imoke -led technical board.

The plan is to increase power supply to 4,000 mega watts by the end of next year.

Power Supply in Nigeria today, according to Chief Agagu, stands at less than 2,000 mega watts.

-- (, June 21, 2000

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