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Three students were arrested by the Rivers State Police Command during the violence that marred the Niger Delta Students’ Union Government (NIDSUG) election. The violence followed Juliet Manyo’s election as the union’s first woman president. EMMANUEL AHANONU (Political Science, University of Calabar) reports.

ONE WEEK after the election which produced the first woman president of the Niger Delta Students Union Government (NIDSUG), the tension is yet to be doused.

The president-elect, Juliet Manyo, is preaching peace, but those contesting her election seem not to be listening to her. NIDSUG is the umbrella body of students from the South-south. Three of its members are being held by the police following the violence that marred the election. The election of Juliet of the University of Calabar (UNICAL) followed the union’s convention held at WAG International Hotel in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

The process was said to be “highly contentious” by her opponents, who accused her predecessor of installing a puppet.

After Juliet was sworn in, she was led to Rhythm 93.7 FM in Port Harcourt to give her inaugural speech.

This irked her opponents, who allegedly mobilised people to the radio station. As Juliet was reading her speech, dozens of people invaded the radio station, vandalising equipment worth millions of naira.

The people said to be members of the union fighting the outgoing administration, led by Akpomiemie Obada, threatened to burn down the station. They wondered why Juliet was being referred to as the union president and allowed to broadcast her speech when there was controversy over her election.

CAMPUSLIFE gathered that they forced their way to the studio after they overpowered the station’s security guards. They were said to be armed with various weapons, including spiked clubs and broken bottles. The management called in the police as the protesters made their way into the studio. The studio’s equipment were vandalised before the police arrived.

Our correspondent gathered that the protesters were led by the union’s erstwhile Public Relations Officer (PRO), Ekadi Daubi, who was alleged to have spearheaded the anti-Obada sentiment. Three persons, including Ekadi, were arrested in the studio after the destruction.

A top management official of the station, who asked not to be named, told CAMPUSLIFE that the vandals would be released after their family members sign an undertaking to replace the damaged equipment.

“We have told the police not to release them until they are made to buy the equipment they damaged in our studio,” the source said.

The violence followed months of crisis in the union, which led to several postponements of the election. Delegates arrived for the election from universities in the nine Niger Delta states. Former and serving state coordinators of the union and its Legal Adviser, Kalada Nonju, supervised the process.

Addressing the delegates before the election, Obada thanked members for supporting his administration, saying the union had became stronger under his leadership.

The Convention Planning Committee, Boma Wakkike accredited delegates before the election.

Announcing the results, chairman of the electoral body, Abasa Uloho, said Juliet scored the highest number of votes to defeat her rival, Jumbo Okah of Imo State Polytechnic.

Amos Akuro is the vice president for Administration; Henry Enyioha is the Senate President.

Nonju, said the election was free, fair and peaceful. He advised union members to be law-abiding and urged the new leaders to put the union’s interest above any personal matter.

Juliet promised to take the union to greater heights, pleading with members not to encourage thuggery. She promised to fufil her campaign promises, adding that she would embark on sensitisation across campuses to promote peace within the union.

She said: “We intend to give a facelift to our union and review its relationship with politicians and leaders in Niger Delta region. We will run an all-inclusive administration that will help students achieve their academic pursuit. We will beam our focus on empowerment of women and fight for students’ bursaries. We aim to equip our national secretariat with modern gadget for effective performance. We also hope to collaborate with the police to bring up programmes that will lead to reduction of vices on our campuses.”

Juliet said the task ahead was enormous, urging members to support her. She said she would purge the union of “criminal elements” using it to cause mayhem and defraud politicians.

She added: “There are many evil-minded persons causing crisis in the union to defraud politicians. We have seen situations when some of them went to use the name of the union to collect money from government and politicians and share. We urge them to desist from this dishonest act and have a rethink. We will not hesitate to expose them if they do not stop.”

Students’ leaders, who attended the convention, expressed confidence in the president. They hailed Obada for the union’s achievements in the past two years, urging his successor to sustain the gains.

National Association of Imo State Students (NAISS) President Sabinus Nwachukwu, a final year Political Science student, advised Juliet and other members of the executive not to disappoint their supporters.

“The new administration must mend fences and consult the former executive council when necessary,” he said.

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