The National Association of Nigerian Students has given its own account of what transpired at the University of Benin, Edo State, between students and some military men, a situation that aggravated tension on the campus on Thursday.
NANS, in a statement sent to The PUNCH on Saturday, signed by its Vice President, Inter-Campus Affairs, Vanessa Egbeahie, said UNIBEN students are usually peaceful students.
The PUNCH reported that trouble was said to have started on campus following the alleged attempts by some military men to jump the queue and make cash withdrawals at one of the bank’s Automated Teller Machines, which was resisted by the students who had waited in the queue for hours.
Giving an account, NANS on Saturday said the situation “was not in any way the act of UNIBEN students! Please note that the students of the University of Benin are well known for their high moral standards and zero tolerance for violence and are not in any way violent or rebellious.”
NANS claimed that the viral narration of the incident was “cooked up” on the Internet.
Egbeahie said, “In correction of the cooked-up stories going around the Internet, I do hereby write to give some clarity to what actually transpired.
“Soldiers came into the premises of the University of Benin and assaulted students by beating and chasing them out of the long ATM queues. As I earlier stated, our students are very respectful persons and they didn’t object to them nor denied them access in any way, as they allowed the said soldiers to have their way, only to be assaulted, punished and beaten in return as they were falsely accused of recording them.
She claimed that some students’ phones were destroyed and the students were asked to roll on the floor, while some got punched.
According to her, the security officers on ground were not left out of the assault “as they were slapped and dragged as well.”
She said in retaliation to the video that was trending, soldiers came to the campus again, and broke windshields of several privately owned and school-owned vehicles, numbering 40.
She claimed the soldiers assaulted and flogged the school’s security officers.
“All manner of ill-treatment was executed on the school premises by the same soldiers that should be safeguarding and protecting the citizens of this great country,” she added.
Saying the sad incident was something the students pray and hope not to repeat itself, “We are happy that peace and calmness have been restored to the campus.”
The PUNCH reports that in a statement on Friday, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Lilian Salami, called for calm over the clash between the soldiers and students on the campus, describing the incident as unfortunate. She urged the students to always seek alternative resolution to crisis instead of protesting.