Lilian Salami, Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, issued a statement on Friday calling for calm following a clash between soldiers and students on the campus on Thursday.
The trouble was said to have started when attempts by some military personnel to jump the queue and make a cash withdrawal at one of the bank’s Automated Teller Machines were met with resistance from the students who had patiently waited in line for hours.
In a statement issued on Friday, the VC called the incident “unfortunate” and urged students to always seek alternative solutions to crises rather than protesting.
“The unfortunate incident of a clash between some students of our university and soldiers on Thursday 2nd February, resulting from alleged resistance of students,” the statement reads.
The management recognizes that these are difficult times for everyone and encourages everyone to remain calm while efforts are made to prevent a recurrence.
“Management also calls on students to engage in constant dialogue in resolving issues that concern them rather than resorting to protests at any provocation, causing more injury and damage to themselves and other citizens,” the statement continued.
On Friday, students and residents in the area were concerned about a retaliatory attack. Four vehicles with smashed windshields were parked near the school’s main entrance.
While some students and residents gathered at the main gate, the exit gate was closed as motorists used the entry gate and were subjected to a thorough search before being allowed in.
A student told The PUNCH that they were afraid the soldiers would still come in the middle of the night and attack the school.
“Two of the five soldiers who caused the trouble were taken to the security house at the main gate to avoid being lynched,” she said. Later that evening, they were released to their superior. But they regrouped and returned around 12.30 a.m. on Tuesday, jumping the fence, destroying some vehicles, and shooting sporadically into the air.”
Another student, David, stated that trouble began when five soldiers arrived on Thursday to withdraw money from the Wema Bank ATM without joining the queue and showed no courtesy to those who had been waiting for hours.
“A female student was said to be recording what the soldiers were doing, and her phone was taken from her and smashed on the floor,” he continued.
A cab driver who attempted to intervene was also molested, which enraged the students. The crisis could have been avoided if they had agreed to let the female student go. However, we are concerned that they will return to attack us in the early hours of Friday.