Group demands release of 5 Katanga boys arrested for 'illegal gathering'

File[/caption] A group calling itself the ‘Concerned Katangees’ is demanding the “immediate release” of the five students of KNUST arrested by the Police Thursday for ‘illegal gathering’ around the university campus. The students, who are members of the University Hall, popularly known as Katanga, and some alumni had gathered at Maxima, about 3 kilometres from the KNUST campus, holding placards such as “We want our hall back’ and ‘Kum y3n pr3ko”. On the back of the declaration of the University campus a security zone, a team of police personnel were deployed to disperse the gathering, succeeded in arresting five of them. Reasons for their arrest have not yet been given by the university authorities and the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC) who fear of possible disturbances in the school. A statement issued Friday morning by the Concerned Katangees asked for the release of the five students, warning it they will not “countenance any unconstitutional and arbitrary show of power” by the REGSEC and the university’s management. They described the arrest as “shameful, cowardly and crude”, claiming it is intended to stifle the freedom of students of the University Hall. “We wish to serve notice that, Katanga shall not bow to any form of intimation by the REGSEC as we patiently await the recommendations by the Chancellor’s Committee,” the group indicated. Though they reiterated their resolve to stand up against all forms of oppression, the group said they “will not engage in or encourage any form of aggression towards established authority”. It assured of continuous dialogue and advocacy to ensure the issue regarding the conversion of the all-male hall of residence to a mixed one; something that triggered disturbances on the university campus last year.

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Background On Tuesday, September 4, the Ashanti Regional Security Council declared KNUST a security zone following intelligence picked up that some alumni are instigating their members and students to engage in activities “that will disturb academic work and peace on campus”. The decision is believed to have been triggered by a warning issued by the ‘Concerned Katangees’ over the conversion of the all-male University Hall into a mixed hall of residence. The group on August 26 claimed KNUST was sitting “on a time bomb” as authorities and stakeholders have failed to resolve the issues surrounding the conversion of the all-male hall to a mixed one. According to them, though they have used all necessary procedures and legal processes, “we can unequivocally put it across that, most of the important stakeholders we appealed to have done nothing to ensure that the case is settled amicably, as ladies have been assigned to the University Hall this year again”. The group thus warned that it will not rest until the University Hall is reversed back to its original status as an all-male hall of residence. But the Ashanti REGSEC has advised the public to observe the directive which will be in force until further notice, warning that breaches of it will attract what it termed as “maximum legal security penalty”. It directed persons or groups with grievances against KNUST to make a case or report it to the appropriate authorities for redress or necessary action. “It should be noted that anybody who directly or indirectly engages in activities that may disturb the peace on the KNUST campus shall be sternly dealt with in accordance with the law,” the statement signed by the REGSEC chairman Simon Osei-Mensah warned. Management of the University have also issued a statement to urge the alumni and students to remain calm as they were ready to address their concerns.
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