Prof Ogbonna Ibe-Enwo, the Rector, Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Unwana, Afikpo in Ebonyi, says the institution has been closed down indefinitely following a land dispute.
Ibe-Enwo newsmen on Tuesday in Afikpo 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.
According to the rector, the closure of the institution is also to forestall possible reprisals from the host community.
“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,’’ Ibe-Enwo said.
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 Tuesday 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.
The source further noted that no fewer than 1,000 angry youths from the community armed with machetes and other dangerous weapons invaded the institution.
According to the source, the angry mob also left many students severely injured while property worth millions of naira were destroyed.
The Ebonyi Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr Chris Anyanwu, when contacted, declined comments, saying the Command was yet to be briefed on the incident.
Meanwhile, a member of the community who spoke to NAN on condition of anonymity, said the erection of new structure on the disputed parcel of land was the immediate cause of the fracas.
Both the community and the institution are laying claim to that parcel of land. (NAN)