The University of Benin has demanded that the Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, rebuild and hand over to the university the 18 bungalows the state government demolished at the Government Reservation Area in Benin.
Authorities of the UNIBEN said rebuilding the bungalows by Oshiomhole was the only solution to the lingering crisis between the university and the state government.
The counsel for the university, Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo, stated this on Wednesday while briefing journalists in Lagos.
The buildings, occupied by some staff of the university, were reportedly demolished by the state government on January 5 following the judgment of a Benin High Court that the buildings belonged to the government.
The demolition has however sparked crisis in the state, including a protest by students of UNIBEN, who reportedly set ablaze a mass transit bus belonging to the state government.
Speaking on behalf of the university, Uwaifo said the crisis might continue except Oshiomhole devised a way of meeting with the university authorities for settlement.
He said, “The governor has to douse the tension by calling the people together. My client, the University of Benin, has told me very clearly that they are ready for settlement if the governor can restore the property to the university.
“The university said it is even ready to thank the governor. The university is ready to do anything that the governor wishes for the betterment of the state.
“If he as the father of the state can retrace his steps immediately and urgently meet the university authorities, study their papers, court judgment or no court judgment, then normalcy would be restored to the state. He is the cause of the entire problem.
“So, the university is urging the students to remain calm, not to resort to anything that is in violation of the law despite the fact that the state government has violated the law. Two wrongs cannot make a right. But how long can the university continue to prevail on people who feel completely cheated or offended?”
Uwaifo said the state government acted hastily by moving in to demolish the contentious buildings when the 90 days allowed by the law for appeal had not been exhausted.
According to Uwaifo, after the judgment was given on December 16, the university had immediately filed an appeal on December 17 and followed by application for stay of execution on December 19 but the state government had claimed not to have been served the processes.
“But the issue of whether the processes were properly served or not resides with the court, and not with any of the parties. If by the time we get to court and the court says these processes were not properly served, that would have been the case. But the Edo State government led by Governor Adams Oshiomhole and some thugs went hastily to demolish the buildings,” Uwaifo said.
He debunked the claim by the state government that the university had been intending to sell off the properties.