The management of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) has reacted to a violent incident involving students of the institution and Nigerian soldiers.
On Thursday, some soldiers attached to the Army Supply and Transport (S & T) Barracks, Ugbowo, Benin City, clashed with some students while attempting to withdraw money from an ATM within the campus.
According to reports by witnesses, the students had queued up at the ATM to withdraw money owing to the scarcity of new naira notes when soldiers came and attempted to jump the queue. This led to resistance from the students and subsequently a clash with the soldiers.
Reacting in a statement on Friday, the school’s Vice Chancellor Prof. Lilian Salami described the incident as unfortunate and called for calm.
“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 queue 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 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,” she said.
A similar occurrence was reported to have taken place the previous day (Wednesday), as the soldiers jumped the queue at the ATM.
During the clash on Thursday, the Chief Security Officer of the institution was said to have intervened and was assaulted by the soldiers.
This angered the students who descended on the soldiers and violence ensued. Efforts by some spirited Nigerians and the Divisional Police Officer, Ugbowo Division, eventually restored calm.
The fracas caused gridlock in vehicular movement on routes to and from the school before peace was restored.
The soldiers would return to the school in the early hours of Friday, shooting and destroying the school property. Below are some of the reactions on social media.
@SamuelEkeson13 tweeted, ” Omo after the incident yesterday at UNIBEN. I was at a night rehearsal. We heard soldeier were in school shooting guns and destroying school properties. We had to lie down flat, switched off all the lights and stay calm. I was scared.”
“Army came to school at 2am and destroyed cars. It’s at 2am they came inside,” one student said in pidgin while filming the destruction.
Videos and pictures of destroyed cars and property on the campus were posted online.