By Simeon OSAJIE
There was anxiety in the University of Benin, Benin City, Friday 3rd January, 2023 morning over an attack by soldiers late Thursday, 2nd January, 2023 into the early hours allegedly invaded the main gate area of the University in Ugbowo where they unleashed beating on whoever was on sight and destroyed virtually every vehicle packed within the vicinity.
At the end of the attack, not less than six people sustained various degrees of injuries and more than 20 vehicles destroyed.
The students had gathered at the Benin – Lagos Highway mobilizing to block the highway to protest the incident but they were dispersed by the police.
The invasion of the campus was a result of an incident that reportedly happened earlier hour of Thursday where some students had an altercation with soldiers who were alleged to have jumped the queue while waiting to withdraw money from an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) inside the campus.
The9JaTREND gathered that the soldiers beat up a female student who they accused of recording the scene and also descended on two Uniben security personnel that tried to bring the situation under control and in anger, the students pounced on one the soldiers as was seen in a short video that went viral.
The management of the school called for calm and assured that the issue was being resolved but the soldiers were said to have invaded the main gate scaling the fence of the University and allegedly destroyed the CCTV at the security post. Among the vehicles destroyed were the security vehicle and a fire fighting truck.
One of the victims who gave her name simply as Gloria said, “I sent my sister to the ATM and she later called me that there was fighting inside the campus involving soldiers and later I could not reach her again, her line was not going again, so in my panicky state, I went into the campus from Ekosodin and by the time we finished, they had locked the gates, there was crowd and we were looking for cab to get back home, I was enquiring from a security man how we can get out of the campus through the back gate if they will agree to open it for us shortly after that we saw soldiers jumping into the compound they carried cutlass, jack knife, sticks and other things and started beating everybody they met. We were running and all the money we withdrew from the ATM and our phones were taken away because we have to run for our dear lives. Some of them were wearing hoods, some of them were females.
Another victim a male said, “I was at the Fidelity Bank ATM, I was on the queue the next thing I heard was ‘na soja una wan try’, immediately I jumped out of the way but I was injured while trying to scale the fence and I had run back into the school and then rushed to the health centre where I was treated.”
However, when contacted, the Public Relations s Officer of the 4 Brigade Nigerian Army Captain Yemi Sokoya denied the attack by soldiers and simply said, “It is not true. Thank you”
In a statement by the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Lillian Salami said, “The unfortunate incident of the clash between some students of our university and soldiers on Thursday 2nd February, resulting from alleged resistance of students to the soldiers’ attempt to jump ATM queues on campus has been brought under control and the Management of the University is in discussions with the hierarchy of the S & T for amicable resolution.
“The Management acknowledges that these are challenging times for everyone and enjoins all to remain calm while efforts are being made to avert a re-occurrence.
“Management also calls on the students to constantly engage in dialogue in resolving issues that concern them rather than taking to protests, at any provocation, thereby causing more injury and damage to themselves and other citizens.”