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Police tear gas commuters, protesting PLWDs in Bayelsa

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There was pandemonium in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, yesterday, as policemen released tear gas on commuters and Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWDs) at Tombia roundabout in the state capital.

The incident left several commuters and people living with disabilities in pain and anguish.

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The Guardian learned that the PLWDs were protesting against the alleged suspension of a Deputy Bursar and member of the group at the Niger Delta University (NDU), a development that grounded commercial activities in the area before policemen were deployed to the scene.

Consequently, commuters who were traveling to the NDU in Amassoma and Tombia in Southern Ijaw and Yenagoa councils of Bayelsa State and neighbouring states were stranded for hours along the Edepie corridor, as long as the protest lasted.

State Chairman of PLWD, Eric Ikilowei, who led the peaceful protesters, lamented that one of their members was also barred from contesting the vacant position of substantive bursar of the institution on account of his disability.

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The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions such as Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Samuel Gowon Edoumiekumo Lift The Suspension Of Deputy Bursar; Samuel Gowon Go, We Don’t Want You Again; The VC Is Highhanded and Governor Douye Diri, Save Our Souls, among others.

However, the peaceful protest almost turned violent when policemen fired canisters to disperse the demonstrators after failed attempts by some senior officers to stop the protest.

Ikilowei, who later spoke with journalists during the protest, said they resorted to the rally after several efforts to reach out to the state government to intervene in the matter failed.

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He noted that the last time they protested and were invited by the state Commissioner of Police (CP), he was detained and taken to court.

He, however, appealed to Governor Douye Diri to intervene in the matter and prevail on Edoumiekumo to reinstate the Deputy Bursar.

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