Some groups, under the Edo State Civil Society Organisations, on Thursday condemned the current face-off between the Edo State Government and the University of Benin over the 18 residential buildings, which both the government and the institution had laid claims to.
It would be recalled that some staff of the university had on Tuesday protested the demolition of 16 of the buildings, which they claimed had been allocated to the institution by a former military governor of the state, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, at inception.
The protest, however, turned violent as students of the university took to the streets, set ablaze a state transit bus which they also used to barricade the Benin-Lagos expressway for several hours.
Although the government had argued that it had obtained a court judgement to justify it’s ownership and had duly notified the institution of the demolition, the university insisted that it had obtained a stay of execution which it said had been served on the government.
But the groups, in a statement signed by its Coordinator General, Omobude Agho, and Secretary General, Aifuwa Bartholomew, and made available to journalists in Benin, blamed the institution for not doing a follow-up to legalise it’s claim of the properties as soon as they were given to the university.
They, however, described the demolition of the 16 of the bungalows by the state government on Monday as a hasty action and “in bad fate.”
According to the statement, “The state government acted in a rush manner, which suggest that there is more to just recovery of the said properties for the state.”
The civil society organisations also took a swipe on students of the university, whom they accused of “heating up the polity” by burning down public property, rather than conducting themselves in a peaceful solidarity protest.
They, however, urged the warring parties to seek amicable ways of ending the feud in the interest of peace in the state.
“Conclusively, both the state government and the management of UNIBEN, through their representative and legal counsels, should seek an amicable solution to the issue, instead of allowing it to degenerate into an unpleasant situation.
“The Edo State Civil Society Organisations will be willing to create that platform for peaceful resolution between both parties.”
“The state government should tender an unreserved apology to the affected occupants, the assaulted lecturers and reconstruct the buildings, pending the final determination of the matter in court,” the statement added.