An officer of the Police Special Unit (PSU) Wednesday pulled a gun at protesting students who demanded that he deleted pictures taken with his Samsung mobile phone.
The incident took place at the Fendall Campus of the University of Liberia where protesting students were demanding UL Administration to reopen the registration process which the UL Administration said the deadline was October 30.
Eye-witness told the Daily Observer that the officer who pulled the gun on the students and another officer was separated from a group of PSU officers who had been called to the campus to control the situation.
“The officer saw the students and began to take pictures,” said an eyewitness. “When they saw him do that, the students asked him to delete the pictures he had taken.”
Several students rushed on the officer and forcefully made attempts to take the mobile phone that he had used to take the pictures.
“The mobile phone dropped from the officer’s hand and it was when one of the students was picking up the phone that the officer pulled out his pistol and directed at the students,” the witness said.
The situation rose tension as students began to throw items at the officer, who later pulled away. Later, several of the PSU officers were heard chiding the officer for pulling the gun on the students. “You did not have to do that,” one officer was heard telling his colleeague, who claimed he did it to get the students off his back, since they were many who rushed on him to take his mobile phone from him.
The protest meanwhile disrupted normal academic activities, which was for the second time. The students in their thousands chanted the popular ‘political war cry’ “Amandla, Awétu.”
Later, a spokesman of the students said following the closure of the registration process, they made several appeals, describing them as “diplomatic means” to engage the UL Administration to consider its decision and reopen the registration, process but without success.
He said about 6,000 students were affected by the UL Administration’s decision. ‘‘We are frustrated! After we have paid our tuition and other fees into the UL account at various banks, today they are saying the process is closed,’’ he frowned.
He said much time was not given them to complete the process. “Every semester students encounter a lot of difficulties,” he said. “All this happens because of the poor registration process at the University of Liberia.”
Several of the students said they believed the failure of the UL Administration to allow them enough time to complete their registration is a means to deny them the education they need to become better citizens tomorrow.
“This is unacceptable in our modern world, why will they come to suppress us, they want to deny us our right to education,’’ a student said.
A female student said while there could be challenges at the university, she is aware that registration at lower levels, like high schools, is far better than what is obtained at the University of Liberia.
“As a government-run institution there should be set standards that will create a free-flow registration,” she pointed out. “During UL registration, there are two windows to cater to nearly 48,000 students and this should improve.”
She called on the administration to introduce a better system that will ease difficulties that students face, among others, during registration every semester.
In its official response, a release, signed by Norris Tweah, Vice President, UL Relations, said: “The Administration of the University of Liberia wishes to inform all students of the Institution that first semester registration of 2017/2018 academic year that started on September 11, and ended on October 14, has finally come to an end. Based on students’ appeal, the October 14, deadline was extended to October 31, and subsequently to November 9.
“Administration, therefore, wishes to remind all students of the University of Liberia that the first-semester registration of 2017/2018 academic year has finally come to an end as of Friday, November 10. All registration activities are hereby ordered closed.”