Benue Varsity Crisis and Its Far reaching Consequences

Posted: May 17, 2012 in Uncategorized


When the students of the Benue State University, took to the streets in protest of the knocking down of one of them by  a cement carrying truck while crossing the road in front of the school gate, they never deciphered it will bear such far reaching consequences.
The protest which started at about 1:30 pm, on 23rd March, was initially very peaceful with the students marching to establish their dissatisfaction; unfortunately, it turned sour when touts and lay bouts around the university community took over the peaceful march turning the erstwhile peaceful march violent.
With the advent of external influence and turn of events the police were consequently invited to quell the ensued violence shooting sporadically in the air to disperse the now irate crowd. This began the negative consequence suffered by the students as reports have it that, in the course of trying to quell the riot, police were alleged to have used live ammunition to disperse the protesters which resulted in the death of another.ImageImage
Owing to the velocity of the protest, the university authorities also announced the closure of the university; a situation the students did not plan nor negotiate for at the planning stage of protest. The university remained closed for nearly two months, a situation which also put some financial cost on them.
Only three weeks ago, the university reopened with the returning students required to pay Five Thousand Naira as fine and are also required to sign an undertaking as a deterrent measure to further occurrences. To show how serious this directive was, the authorities initially demanded that all students were required to present receipts and evidence of payment of the required fee on arrival at the school gates before they would be allowed to enter, a measure that lasted only a few hours.
This decision has not gone down well with the dissatisfied students who claim they are unjustly treated since according to them they did not destroy university property, moreover they also say they had been initially vindicated by the state authorities and public as it was common to hear on state television, radio and even tabloids that the mayhem was not one caused by students but by hoodlums, especially those influenced by disgruntled members of the opposition in the state.
In a recent chat with atiterkula, President, Law Students Association Nigeria (LAWSAN), Comr. Joshua Ortwav could not hide his disapproval of the decision he terms unfair because according to him the university has not justified their demand for the levy as the claim of destruction was false since nearly nothing was destroyed during the protest.
According to him, the university had to prove that their property was destroyed and how much was destroyed so as to match the cost to the levied fee. He however called on students to retrain from further action as the matter was already before the court.
In a related development, a Makurdi based lawyer, Bar. Mathew Alyebo has filled a motion exparte before the Makurdi High Court seeking an injunction restraining Benue State University from implementing the five thousand Naira levy and signing of undertaking of good conduct by the students in pursuant of the enforcement of the fundamental human rights, as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
He is also seeking the court to give an order directing the university to discontinue the receipt of such dues as well as signing of the said undertaking of good conductImage
The case has since been adjourned to 25th April, 2012, for further hearing on the matter. With the legality of such a fine been contested at the courts, the students have become reluctant to pay the fine pending the outcome of the suit. The university authority has on their part insisted on payment of the levy before signing any document for students.
Meanwhile the students are also in disagreement with the fine on the grounds that it is selective as it exempts students of the medical school. According to a source who spoke on account of anonymity, informed that students of the medical school had been exempted from the fine and undertaking as a result of a letter addressed by the students advancing reasons as to why they should not be included in the fine, amongst which is the reason that they were holding lectures during the said protest and thus could not be involved in it.
He further lamented that the school authority was in contempt of court as the matter was before the court and should have been left waiting, but the students have been forced to pay.
Fortunately, the consequences are not only negative but it has also brought some benefit to the students. In order to prevent reoccurrence of the ugly incident, the university has ensured that speed bumps are constructed on both sides of the expressway, in a bid to slow down on-coming vehicles forestalling further accidents.


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