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Protest over loans by University of Nairobi students put off

SONU Chairman Babu Owino stated that they would wait until Wednesday to see whether funds will have been made available to those affected/FILE

SONU Chairman Babu Owino stated that they would wait until Wednesday to see whether funds will have been made available to those affected/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – A protest planned by University of Nairobi students on Monday has been put off, after the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) indicated that funds would be disbursed into affected students’ accounts by Tuesday.

In a statement, Chief Executive Officer Charles Ringera pointed out that the board had completed the allocation and award of loans and bursaries to first time applicants.

He explained that successful applicants were contacted as early as Sunday and urged them to check their accounts for the funds.

“Individual SMSs are being sent to the respective successful applicants’ mobile phones by the end of today, Sunday 25th January 2015. Disbursement to respective individual accounts is in progress and we expect all successful applicants’ funds to be in their accounts on or before close of business Tuesday the 27th day of January 2015 depending on the recipient’s bank,” the board stated.

“Respective applicants’ accounts on the board website will be indicative of loan status with effect from Monday 26th day of January 2015.”

The University of Nairobi Student Union (SONU) Chairman Babu Owino stated that they would wait until Wednesday to see whether funds will have been made available to those affected.

“The demonstration which had been scheduled for tomorrow, (Monday) has been postponed to Wednesday. We will be patient till Wednesday when comrades will hold the most peaceful demo without mercy should all these turn out to be PR,” he stated in a Facebook post late on Sunday.

The university’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Isaac Mbeche has in the meantime appealed to the students to be patient and give dialogue a chance in a bid to resolve the situation.

In a statement, he indicated that every effort had been made to make the funds available to the students as soon as possible.

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“It has been brought to my attention that some students are organizing to demonstrate against delayed disbursement of HELB loans to the first year students. I am appealing to all students to allow due diligence in the execution of this task as the University encourages the use of dialogue to address this issue rather than demonstrations,” he said.

He explained that the university administration held a meeting with the Education Ministry and the HELB Chief Executive Officer to ensure that the funds are made available as soon as possible.

“I wish to assure you all that I have in this connection consulted with the Cabinet Secretary, Education Science and Technology, Principal Secretary, State Department of Higher Education and the Chief Executive Officer HELB and have been given assurance that disbursement of loans will be duly executed,” he said.

The University of Nairobi student union had declared its intention to rally students to block all the major roads in Nairobi on Monday if first years will not have received their funds. READ: Suicide, shooting spark violent UoN riots.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery observed that while the Constitution guarantees the right to picket and demonstrate, it must be exercised within the confines of the law and without infringing on the rights of anyone.

“The attention of the government has been called to a message circulating in the social media, purportedly from the leadership of the University of Nairobi students that threatens the public and incites the students to blockade roads, engage with the police and shut the city of Nairobi down tomorrow (Monday).”

He stated that attempts to block any road, attack anyone or destroy property would be dealt with swiftly and firmly.

“This message is intended to serve a strong warning to any person or persons that may have an intention to blockade any road, attack any person or destroy property,” he said. “We are particularly dismayed at the contemplation of the attack and engagement with the security officers. Any such acts will be dealt with swiftly and firmly.”

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