By Esezobor Ohimai, Benin
Students of University of Benin (UNIBEN) on Tuesday evening trooped out in their numbers to protest against the suspension of the students’ union of the institution by the Professor Lilian Salami-led management.
The students also resisted an attempt to be evacuated from their halls of residence.
The institution’s Senate on Tuesday rose from a meeting to suspend the executives of the students’ union body, saying it was to forestall the breakdown of law and order.
It said the leaders of the body were planning a protest against the adjusted academic calendar of the school.
Chanting ‘No SUG! No UNIBEN! We are not going nowhere’, the students said the management wanted to use the hostel accommodations of the school to host athletes coming for the National Sports Festival holding in Benin City, the state capital on April 4.
Comrade Destiny Uanzekin, Public Relations Officer of the students’ Union, described the evacuation order as a violation of students’ academic rights.
He also condemned the proscription of the students’ union.
He said, “It is indeed shocking that the school management would make an attempt to depose a legitimate students’ body, rather than accommodate, or come to a compromise, on our just and reasonable demands.
“The Golden Age Executives were elected by the students, and have sworn to protect the interest of the students at all times. Our legitimacy is rooted in student consensus.
“We are a government of the people (students) and by the people (students), therefore only the people (students) through a Students Representative Parliament, can remove Union Executives from office, pursuant to Section 38 (Pg. 40) of the Students Union Constitution.
“Despite the infamous and incessant, almost biennial nationwide strikes of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Federal Government of Nigeria cannot disband the leadership of the Staff Union, as this contravenes the fundamental human right to association, as ratified by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Paris, France, 1948, and as adopted by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Despite this new development, we will not be deterred in our commitment to student solidarity and general welfare. The age-old management tactic of encroaching on our fundamental human right to freedom of association (this time done preemptively) anytime there is a contrast of opinions between both parties, does not correspond with the tenets of a democratic society
“We hereby ask the mananagement to do the right thing and engage the Students’ Union in talks, and reach a compromise, as we have previously promoted.
“We urge all students to remain vigilant, unfazed and unperturbed, in the face of yet another challenge, as the Union continues to work round the clock, advocating and promoting the common interest of all UNIBEN students.”
— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) March 30, 2021