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Union election: Students protest religious marginalisation in FCET Umunze

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By Gabriel Chy Alonta & Lawrence Nwimo

Scores of students of the Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze, Anambra state, last week, protested alleged marginalisation and unfair treatment of some student groups in the election of the executives of Students Union Government in the college.

The protesters, mostly from the Anglican and Pentecostal denominations, matched round the town, carrying placards with inscriptions, “Say no to marginalisation in FCE(T) Umunze”, “We need our rights back”, “Catholic dominance must stop in FCET, Umunze”, among others.

Orient Daily reliably gathered that that the student’s anger followed disqualification of some candidates for the election without genuine reasons.

They alleged that same scenario played out in 2013 when some students were denied opportunities in the election, which led to protests that resulted in suspension and termination of admissions of some students.

The aggrieved students said they had filed a petition to the college management demanding for fair hearing, which did not receive the attention it deserved, prompting the protest.

Addressing newsmen, Chief Judge of the SUG, Rt. Hon. Justice Alaebo Promise, alleged that the school management was imposing its candidate on the students, describing it as abnormal and an imposition. He said the protest was to demand evidences of their disqualification from the school.

According to him, in the past SUG election, offices of the president, secretary, financial secretary and other key positions were not contested.

“We are protesting against so many irregularities regarding the electoral process in the ongoing SUG election in the college where some critical positions were declared unopposed for just no reason.

“We actually called the management but we were told to do whatever we want to do. That statement provoked us and we decided to show them that we are not happy”.

Promise, who is also the president of Anglican Students in the college, canvassed for review of election processes of the college.

Contacted, the college Public Relations Officer, Mr. Sam Otti, said the election has been suspended over grievances that came up hours before the election.

He said the management had ordered the students back to their hostels, referring our reporter to the Dean, Students Affairs for further details on the matter.

Attempts to contact the dean were, however, unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, the chaplain of Anglican Chapel of Ascension FCE(T), Umunze, Rev. Tochukwu Akaegbobi, said that a lot had happened in the school, which was why the students took to the streets, adding that the students of other denominations in the school have been intimidated and pushed to the wall.

The Anglican priest said that nobody was against a church bringing out a candidate, but imposing it on the students is wrong. He urged that the students should be allowed to exercise their franchise, noting that “it is an affair that concern the students.

“If the management wants the students to have their elections, they should separate themselves from the students. The church should also separate themselves from the students’ politics. Let the students play their politics”.

When contacted, Rev. Fr. Ben Tochukwu Odika, said that the Catholic church in the school has nothing to do with SUG and its politics, stressing that it is not a church affair. He said SUG election is students’ affair and is strictly meant for them.

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