Hoodlums attack UNIBEN lecturers in Benin

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Gun-wielding hoodlums on Tuesday attacked lecturers of the University of Benin along the Airport Road, Benin, while protesting the destruction of buildings housing their colleagues, belonging to the university.

Eyewitness account told our Benin correspondent that the lecturers were descending from their vehicles to inspect some of the damaged houses when they were attacked by gun-wielding hoodlums.

Eyewitness account said that trouble started when some men, with guns, confronted the lecturers, telling them to leave the area and claiming to be police officers and when they (lecturers) demanded for ID cards, they descended on them with stones, sticks and sand, breaking the windscreens of the buses and cars the lecturers came in.

Some of the drivers had driven off for safety but others, not so fortunate, ran away, leaving their vehicles, while the vehicles were broken into and items belonging to the protesters were stolen.

Our correspondent gathered that about 10 lecturers, including professors were injured during the attack.

The state government had allegedly ordered the destruction of 18 buildings located in choice areas in the GRA, even while the occupants were still in them.

One of the victims, immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin, Professor Osayuki Oshodin, who spoke with journalists, accused the state government of demolishing his official residence while in office.

Oshodin said the demolition affected four buildings on Edo Osagie Street, including his, while his personal belongings, including books, assorted publications, electronic gadgets, furniture, bank documents and certificates, were affected in the process.

He said the incident began at about 2pm Monday, while he was in the house, adding that “I was here. They first of all came in the morning. Then over 2,000 thugs came and started destroying the houses.

“They destroyed my library there. All my books right from primary school, were destroyed but I have packed the remnants away from there.”

Areas affected in the demolition include buildings on Government House Road, Golf Road, Edo-Osagie Street and Airport Road.

The demolition came in the wake of an appeal filed by the university challenging the ruling of a state high court in the suit by the Edo State Government over a large expanse of land which the defunct Mid-West State Government allegedly donated to the university in the seventies.

The state government won a prayer in the state high court that the property in dispute belongs to it but no sooner had judgement been delivered than thugs went on rampage, invaded the plots where academic staffers are residing and drove them out.

The protesting members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of the university have lamented the resort to thuggery by state government officials in a bid to enforce a court ruling over the disputed plot of land.

The union, in a statement by its chairman, Dr. Anthony Monye-Emina, called on the law enforcement agencies to intervene in the matter to save academic staffers as defenceless citizens from being attacked in their fatherland.

Reacting to the allegations, Attorney General to the government, Barrister Henry Idahagbon, said the state government merely carried out the judgment passed 16 December, that the state government should take possession of their property.

Idahagbon stressed that the court said they should take possession immediately, noting, “Since they don’t want to leave, we decided that we should break down the perimeter fence and punch holes in the buildings, to make the place uninhabitable for the occupants.”

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