Student power prevailed at the University of Benin (UNIBEN) on Wednesday as students of the varsity in their thousands, forced the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Lilian Salami, to reverse Senate order closing down the institution.
It will be recalled that management of the University had Tuesday night announced the closure of the institution indefinitely following students’ protest over N20, 000 penalty for late payment of school fees.
The decision was endorsed by the University Senate yesterday (Wednesday).
But determined to conquer their ‘oppressors’, the students led by former Student Union leaders of various tertiary institutions from the South-South, forced the Vice-Chancellor from her residence to the main gate of Uniben, where she was compelled to renounce decisions closing the University and imposing penalty fee for late payment of school fees.
Consequently, the Vice Chancellor announced the re-opening of the University today (Thurday), just as she apologised to the students, who demanded for the removal of the University PRO, Dr. Benedicta Ehanire and the Dean of Students of the institution.
The usually tough-talking Professor Salami was a pitiable sight to behold in the midst of students yesterday, as she shivered and fidgeted while reversing the University’s earlier decisions under duress.
According to a statement by University’s Registrar, Ademola Bobola, the management urged the students to disregard the closure order issued on Tuesday.
“After due consultation, and in the overall interest of the general students’ body, the Vice Chancellor has, on behalf of Senate, apologized to our dear students.
“This is based on security reports from the Department of State Security (DSS) to avoid the students’ action being hijacked by hoodlums; and thereby prevent any form of breakdown of law and order within and outside the campuses of the University.”
Before the U-Turn by the authorities, thousands of students of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) had vowed to defy the go-home the order, as they refused to vacate their campus hostels.
Some soldiers were sighted at one of the female hostels, trying to make them leave, but the students stood their ground.
A female student who attempted to leave the university with her box was booed by other female students who called her a coward.
A security vehicle belonging to the Edo State Security outfit, Operation Wabaizigan, driven to the university by police operatives, was forced to reverse at the main entrance by hundreds of students.
(VIDEO SOURCE: ITV NEWS)
(Additional report by Daily Sun)