Nine Jkuat students arrested, varsity closed after protests
By Mathew Ndung’u and Oliver Musembi
Police in Juja, Kiambu county yesterday arrested nine Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat) students involved in the chaotic protests that saw the university closed by the management until further notice.
Juja Sub-County Commissioner Charles Mureithi said the students were arrested during the fracas and were being held at the local police station for grilling.
He said his security team had met with student leaders and the university administration and agreed to address the learners’ grievances.
“We were surprised they staged a demonstration after agreeing to stay calm as the matter is being handled by the relevant arms of government,” Mureithi said.
He noted that there appeared to be other underlying issues behind the riot rather than insecurity.
The University Students’ Association Executive Council had issued a notice for peaceful protests outside the institution’s Gate B to seek address with police following rampant cases of insecurity in Juja and “total failure of the relevant authorities to protect students and their properties.”
Area police commander Dorothy Migarusha had to call for reinforcement from the neighbouring Thika, Ruiru and Gatundu stations to disperse the rowdy students who engaged police in running battles and barricaded Thika Road at Juja, bringing traffic to a standstill.
Some students pelted nearby buildings with stones, barricaded the road leading to the university and harassed bodaboda operators near the institution.
At some point, the rowdy students were spotted moving unconnected water pipes which they also used to close the road as they chanted slogans.
There was no movement of vehicles on both sides of the busy super highway for close to an hour.
Police used teargas to disperse the stone-throwing rioters to avoid damage of property within and outside the institution.
The protests come in the wake of rising insecurity in Juja where two students were attacked two weeks ago and are nursing wounds in various hospitals.
In February, a first-year student at the institution, Tabitha Muthoni, was stabbed to death as she fought off thugs.
She is reported to have been walking together with a friend near Segal Hotel when they were ambushed by thugs who demanded their cellphones.
In July 2018, a student at the institution’s main campus, who had been missing for some time, was found dead.
The body of Tabitha Kitaa Kiiti was found outside one of the hostels.
These are some of the cases that the protesting students highlighted as they expressed their displeasure over how police were handling their security.
The university through its corporate communication officer Dr Hindzano Ngonyo said the school was closed following student’s agitation over reports touching on insecurity outside the university campus in Juja.