Sports festival: UNIBEN suspends students’ union for rejecting hostel eviction order

Lilian Salami, Professor of Home Economics and Nutrition at the University of Benin (UNIBEN)

The authorities of the University of Benin have suspended the Students’ Union executive of the institution.

This was contained in a press statement by the Public Relations Officer of UNIBEN, Benedicta Ehanire, titled, “ÚNIBEN senate suspends Students’ Union executives”, on Tuesday.

Though the management blamed the suspension of the students’ union on the instigation of protest over a shift in the school’s academic calendar, our correspondent reliably gathered that the union was suspended over students’ refusal to vacate their hostels ahead of the National Sports Festival.

The school management had earlier asked students to vacate hostels immediately after their exams on April 1 for athletes participating in NSF, which is expected to hold between April 2 to 14.

However, some of the students rejected the management’s order, stating that they are expected to vacate the hostels after their second-semester examinations.

When contacted on the telephone, Ehanire accused the Students’ Union of moving from hostel-to-hostel to encourage the students not to vacate.

But the Students’Union President, Benjamin Egwu, denied the claim, saying that the management had always threatened to suspend the SU each time they had a challenge implementing a directive.

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He said, “We have informed the management of the students’ demands. We told management to find an alternative for the students to keep their luggage. The hostel is paid for and some of our members live in far places. I do not think that the problem is vacating the hostel, the major challenge is finding an alternative for the students to keep their belongings. As a union, we are already looking into that.

“Yes, the examination time table is also a challenge. The management wants to rush the calendar to accommodate the sports festival without considering our mental health. We are not against the sports festival, we are also youths but it should not hold at the detriment of our health and lives.”

The statement suspending the UNIBEN SU read, “The Students’ Union executive of the University of Benin has been suspended and a caretaker committee is to be put in place UNIBEN

“The Institution’s Senate took the action to forestall a breakdown of law and order following the planned instigated protest by the Students Union body in reaction to the shift in the school’s academic calendar.

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“The Union had persistently engaged in subversive activities including incitement of other students to disobey lawful instructions by the school authorities. This is in spite of concerted efforts by the Management, led by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lilian Salami, to provide their basic needs of water and electricity as well as enhanced infrastructure for learning.

“Consequently, the account of the Union has been suspended and their Secretariat, sealed. All members of the erstwhile students’ Union executives are to hand over their Students’ Union Identity Cards to the Chief Security Officer of the University immediately. They are also to vacate the privileged hostel accommodations accorded them latest 6:00pm today, Tuesday 30th March, 2021.

“The Senate praised the majority of the students who have resisted attempts by the students’ Union executives to drag them into unwarranted agitations.

“The Senate wishes the students the best in their on-going examinations and a restful break from the 1st of April, 2021, until their return to campus for the second semester on 18th April, 2021.”

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