Management of the University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State, has suspended some students over alleged involvement in a peaceful demonstration.
Those affected are the Mayors and Mayoress of halls of residence, including that of Hall 5 and Keystone hostels. All three persons are undergraduate students.
Tontrends reliably gathered that the said protest was led by postgraduate students in the first semester. The school is currently in the second semester.
The protesters were said to have demonstrated to the official residence of the vice-chancellor, otherwise known as VC lodge, in protest against non-availability of power.
It was gathered that the hostels lacked electricity and water for over three days during the exam period, forcing the students to take to protests.
Their suspension was announced by the University Registrar, Mrs. O. A. Oshodin, in a private letter exclusively obtained by our source on Friday.
“You will recall your alleged involvement in a case of unlawful protest and at an unholy hour”, she said in the letter obtained by our UNIBEN correspondent.
“The Vice-Chancellor, in exercise of the powers conferred on him by Section 17 (b), (c), and (d) of Edict No. 3 of 1975, and as amended by Decree No. 20 of 1975, has directed that you be suspended from all academic activities forthwith until you before the Security Department for clearance.
“Accordingly, you are hereby suspended from your Faculty and the University until getting clearance from the Security Department”, added Mrs. Oshodin.
Efforts to reach the Registrar for comment proved abortive, even as calls placed to the known phone lines of the university spokesman, Michael Osasuyi, went unanswered.
But an official of the school who would not like to be mentioned said the university took the decision because the VC was disturbed from sleep at such an “ungodly hour.”
On why the affected persons were suspended even when they are not directly involved, the official said the suspended persons were expected to have managed the situation.
“They failed in their duties as halls’ mayors and mayoress, respectively”, he said, adding, “they are expected to handle any of such cases from escalating especially at such ungodly hour.”
One of the affected persons who craved anonymity told our source that he was shocked to hear about his suspension from his hostel porter.
“The protest was led by postgraduate students [last semester] because they had no light in their hostels for over three days”, he said.
“Nobody even heard about it except for members of the Committee on Hostel Matters. Even myself, I wasn’t aware until my attention was drawn after the protest had begun.
“It was a peaceful demonstration, though the protest was taken to the VC’s lodge which is a normal thing in the university. Sadly, management accused us of spearheading the protest”, said the hall mayor.
This is not the first time UNIBEN will be suspending her students over demonstrations. In February 2018 four union members were expelled from the school over a protest against an increment in tuition fee.
The expelled students were accused of staging a students’ demonstration on November 24, 2017, an action the university authorities described as intended to disrupt the institution’s 47th Founders’ Day Lecture and the 43rd Convocation Ceremony.
Those suspended include the then Student Union president, Osemudiamen Elvis; PRO, Ehiabhi Goodnews; Secretary-General, Justus Aidenagbon; Director of Socials, Innocent Ehiozua, and a renowned activist, Benjamin Majekodunmi, alias Sankara.
They were later recalled to the school following the intervention of external forces, including the university chancellor and Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II.