Hundreds of University of Ghana students demonstrated today outside the Nigerian High Commission to protest the alleged deaths of five Ghanaian illegal residents said to have been shot while trying to force their way across a Nigerian border checkpoint.

Armed and helmeted police guarded the Nigerian mission. But they did not intervene as students stopped traffic and shouted slogans in their first demonstration since the government reopened the university last spring after a prolonged closure.

Diplomats suggested that the government tolerated the demonstration to signal growing local displeasure with the Nigerian authorities' handling of the second deportation of illegal residents in as many years.

Ghanaians account for 300,000 of the 700,000 illegal aliens, according to Nigerian officials .

Until the alleged shooting incident at the border of Nigeria and Benin, which Nigerian officials have denied, the government here has played down the expulsions.

At Seme, Nigeria, immigrants' claims of the shooting of four of their number could not be confirmed as reporters, some of whom heard shooting, were told to leave by an Army officer, Reuter reported.

The incident allegedly occurred after thousands of the illegal immigrants fled a transit camp near Lagos and drove to the border with Benin, where they were stopped by police.

[In Niamey, Niger, meanwhile, the Army reported that about 45,000 citizens of Niger were registered as crossing the border before the Nigerian government's deadline for them to leave expired on Friday, Agence France-Presse reported.]