Students of the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Edo State, have clashed with some soldiers attached to the Army Supply and Transport (S&T) Barracks, Ugbowo, Benin City, at the school premises on Thursday over cash withdrawal at one of the bank’s Automated Teller Machines.
Trouble was said to have started as attempts to jump the queue by the soldiers was met with resistance by the students who had for hours waited patiently on the queue for their turn.
According to an eyewitness, the students were angry with the soldiers who had reportedly done same on Wednesday in an oppressive manner.
The source stated, “On Wednesday they came here and harassed the students. They even asked the students who challenged them to lie on the ground. But today (Thursday) when they came again and wanted to do the same thing, the student resisted.”
As arguments ensued between the students and the military men, the Chief Security Officer of the institution who intervened was said to have been assaulted by the soldiers.
The students, aggrieved with the situation, blocked vehicular movement on routes to and from the school which resulted in a gridlock.
The intervention of some spirited Nigerians appeased the irate students to allow vehicular movements around the axis.
The State Deputy Police spokesperson, Jennifer Iwegbu, said peace had returned to the area after several appeals to the students, who demanded that a smashed phone of one of their colleagues be repaired.
A statement signed by the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Lilian Salami on Friday, also described the incident as unfortunate and called for calm.
The statement reads, “The unfortunate incident of the clash between some students of our university and soldiers on Thursday 2nd February, resulting from alleged resistance of students to the soldiers’ attempt to jump ATM queue on campus has been brought under control and the management of the University is in discussions with the hierarchy of the S&T for amicable resolution.
“The management acknowledges that these are challenging times for everyone and enjoins all to remain calm while efforts are being made to avert a re-occurrence.
“Management also calls on the students to constantly engage dialogue in resolving issues that concern them rather than taking to protests, at any provocation, thereby causing more injury and damage to themselves and other citizens,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, videos and comments circulating Twitter revealed that soldiers returned to the school in the early hours of Friday, shooting and destroying the school property following an assault of one of their soldiers on Thursday.
One @SamuelEkeson13 tweeted, ” Omo after the incident yesterday at UNIBEN. I was at a night rehearsal. We heard soldier were in school shooting guns and destroying school properties. We had to lie down flat, switched off all the lights and stay calm. I was scared.”
“Army came to school at 2am and destroyed cars. It’s at 2am they came inside,” another student said in pidgin while filming the destruction.
One @Uyioghosa_27 said, “Soldiers came at night shot gun and destroyed vehicles inside sch compound this morning they have started to abusing passerby around campus later they go say students too do… Their worst sha”
Videos and pictures of destroyed cars and property on the campus were posted online.