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Military Guards Campuses After 15 killed

May 26, 1986

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) _ The military government posted soldiers on Nigeria’s 14 university campuses Monday to prevent a recurrence of clashes in which at least 15 students were reported killed by police gunfire.

State radio said the Armed Forces Ruling Council held a crisis meeting and named a retired general to lead an investigation of Friday’s violence at Ahmadu Bello University, the country’s largest with 17,000 students.

The toll first was put at four, but doctors at the university’s teaching hospital said Monday that 11 more people died of wounds over the weekend. They identified the victims as 13 students and two campus workers.

Unrest spread to the University of Lagos, where students barricaded entrances to the campus over the weekend and pelted police with rocks and other missiles.

Police shot two demonstrators in the legs at the university in the capital, but authorities said the officers fired accidentally. They said the two students were treated in a hospital and released.

At Ahmadu Bello University, in Zaria 45 miles from the northern city of Kaduna, anxious parents and guardians besieged the hospital mortuary when students did not arrive home for the weekend.

No complete casualty count was available. The wounded were in several hospitals. Doctors at the university hospital said at least four students were in critical condition there.

Trouble began at Ahmadu Bello last month with a protest march by students that passed through both men’s and women’s dormitories.

Press reports said university authorities, angry over men intruding into women’s dormitories, suspended the chairman and the spokesman of the student union.

Tension over the dismissals ultimately led to Friday’s violence.

Available information did not indicate whether the conduct of demonstrating students at Ahmadu Bello provoked the shooting by police.

The military council said a five-member panel headed by retired Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Abisoye was named to investigate the causes of the trouble and report back in three weeks, the radio said.

Student grievances are believed linked to the decline of educational facilities in Nigeria which began with the decline in world petroleum prices that severely damaged this West African country’s oil-based economy.

Plummeting oil revenue forced drastic cuts in spending on education and elimination of aid to students abroad, 35,000 of whom are in the United States.

Students protested a shortage of teachers and textbooks. Thousands of graduates have little hope of finding jobs in the recessed economy.

Nigeria has been under military rule since a coup on Dec. 31, 1983, ousted the elected civilian government of President Shehu Shagari.

Update hourly