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Rivers Students Face Deportation From UK Over Unpaid Tuition Fees, Storm Embassy

Valentine Chinyem



Nigerian students under sponsorship of the Rivers State government in several United Kingdom universities, may be forced to return to Nigeria any time from next week, as the deportation process began within the week, from the cancellations of their student visas and subsequent withdrawal from school.

Reason for these? their tuition Fees and boarding fees have not been paid by the state government in the last two years.

Majority of the students have been kicked out of their private residence and hostel accommodations by their landlords.

They have not received their upkeep allowances since last year, November 2014.

Narrating their ordeal on Thursday after protesting outside the Nigerian High Commission in London, where some of them slept overnight, six of the protesters told the Daily Times that they had technically become illegal residents since their visas had been cancelled by the universities.

The students also revealed that many of their colleagues – over 100 others in the same situation – could not come to London from various parts of the UK where they are studying because of lack of transport fares.

According to the students although the manager of the Rivers State Sustainable Development (RSSD), Patricia Dodo, had promised that the government would keep them in the universities since they were already there, “our various universities are no longer willing to wait endlessly on empty promises.” Asked if the state government had been in touch with their universities, they said “yes,” but added that the universities see their letters as mere pieces of papers.

“There is no commitment of when payments will be made, so they don’t regard such letters again,” one of them said.

The spokesman of the protesters, 21- year-old Energy Engineering undergraduate of the University of Huddersfield, Kevin Nwoke, said that the hope of going into the Third Year of his studies is faint.

He added: “There are more than 100 of us in different universities that have been neglected for the same reason from my state government. So we are here to see what the Commission can do in this matter.”

Nwoke said trouble started when school authority invited them to a meeting, and they were told that their sponsors had not been paying their school fees for more than two years.

Prior to that, the students said their universities kept the situation from them, hoping that the state would honour its commitments.

Nwoke, who said he had never been to “London, except when we newly arrived in the UK, ” added that both himself and the others had been finding things very tough.

“Even for me to pay my house rent and feed myself is almost an impossibility. Sometimes, I receive about £400 a month, depending on if there is job. But on the average, I receive about £150 just to keep up. It has been terribly hard for us,” he said.

When asked if his parents can take over his sponsorship, he said, “they are civil servants and they don’t have the money to train me abroad.”

Embassy staff were seen making efforts to help the students through their ordeal. Just before noon, a staff member in grey blazer and black trouser, came outside to meet them, saying the assistant minister in charge of education wanted to meet them.

After the meeting, which lasted over 30 minutes, the embassy official told the Daily Times that the Commission was doing its best and that contacts were being made to concerned authorities in Rivers State.

When the Daily Times asked he students where they would be on Thursday night, they chorused: “Sleep outside here,” except someone found them an alternative accommodation.

“We have nowhere to go,” one of them chipped in. Another showed this reporter some of their belongings outside the High Commission.

Culled from Daily Times.