UNIBEN: An Open Letter To VC Prof Mrs Lilian Salami
I write this open letter to the Vice-chancellor, Uniben, Prof (Mrs) Salami as it is my right in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, 1948 to have freedom of opinion and expression and to receive and impart information through any media.
On the morning of the SUG elections, 14th February, the Dean of students brought a sudden guideline that only students that have paid for this current session can vote, a decree that is against Section 32, subsection 1 of the SUG constitution that all election guideline shall be subject to the constitution. The logical implication of the Dean’s decree is that the 100L students will be able to vote.
At Twin-LT where my faculty, Basic Medical sciences vote, the returning officer made use of a list given by Dean of students to accredit voters. We discovered that the list was cooked as names persons that had paid school fee weren’t on the list and were therefore disenfranchised. Also, 100Level students weren’t allowed to vote. Now, I ask, what is the use of a list when you can easily ask for school fee slip as proof? When we discovered the foul play, we proceeded to try to print out our school fee slip only to discover that our kofa pages have been shut down.
It’s is true that faculty of BMS is one of the faculties that pay school fees early due to the competition in application for reserved hostels, but the cooked list put a whole department at just 20 eligible voters when a class in the department have over 100 students and BMS and Pharmacy with a combined population of over 6000 students had only about 200 voters as at 2 pm. As at when all these were going on, we discovered that 100Level students and students without school fee payment were being allowed to vote in polling units that were the stronghold of a particular candidate. It is no secret that the Dean of students controlled and decided the numbers of persons that could vote in this SUG election.
We also discovered that the returning officers sent to different polling units were more of staffs of Faculty of Law which is where the Dean comes from, I don’t need to explain the foul play here. I am not so surprised as the NDDC hostel that is supposed to be for medical students is now Law students hostel.
It’s is a fact that votes were counted in some polling units with the agents locked outside. Its is illogical that one who has the right to be voted for does not have the right to vote. UNN SUG elections also held this week and over 40, 000 students voted, it is a shame that the University of Benin with over 45, 000 students could not produce 4000 voters.
I won’t fail to mention that members Man O” war that is not a military or security organization in school heavily brutalized our students and collected their phones when I spoke with the GOC today, he said they have rights to beat up fellow students.
Another point of note is the Dean of students sending the aspirants to DSS for clearance, I can only wonder what happened to UNIBEN security, the aspirants were stripped stark naked and male DSS officials touched the body parts of female aspirants in the name of screening. I can’t deny the thoughts that the Dean of students carried out DSS screening so as to be able to defend himself after unclearing some selected aspirants without reasons.
We the students of Basic Medical Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, Pharmacy and every other concerned student reject election based on illegality and irregularity as it is not about winning or losing. We would, therefore, carry our a mass peaceful protest come Monday, 17th with members of the press to oversee the process. We would file our petitions by Monday which will contain evidence and witnesses of this sham election. We have pictures and videos of votes counted without agents, of the Kofa page, shut down, of the brutalized students that didn’t destroy life and property, of the students that were disenfranchised of voting after paying this current session school fee and of the students that voted without school fee in some polling units.
It’s is a tradition in the University of Benin to suspend and/or rusticate students that speak up for their rights and fight against oppression, I have therefore decided to add my name and matriculation number. History will only tell of the comrades and the tyrants that have passed through this institution.
The world will watch your decision towards the voice of the students dear Mama VC.