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Sports festival: UNIBEN students protest union’s suspension, hostel eviction order

Some students of the University of Benin on Tuesday protested against the suspension of their union by the management of the institution.

Our correspondent gathered that the students trooped out in their numbers after the news of the suspension of their union broke.

Earlier, The PUNCH reported that UNIBEN management suspended the institution’s students’ union for allegedly rejecting moves to evict students from their halls of residence on April 1.

Though the management blamed the suspension of the students’ union on the instigation of protest over a shift in the school’s academic calendar, our correspondent reliably gathered that the union was suspended over students’ refusal to vacate their hostels ahead of the National Sports Festival.

The school management had asked students to vacate hostels immediately after their exams on April 1 for athletes participating in NSF, which is expected to hold between April 2 to 14.

However, some of the students rejected the management’s order, stating that they are expected to vacate the hostels after their second-semester examinations.

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During the protest, the students chanted anti-oppression songs and described the eviction order as a violation of students’ academic rights.

One of them, who doubles as the Public Relations Officer of the students’ Union, Destiny Uanzekin, said, “It is indeed shocking that the school management would make an attempt to depose a legitimate students’ body, rather than accommodate, or come to a compromise, on our just and reasonable demands.

“The Golden Age Executives were elected by the students, and have sworn to protect the interest of the students at all times. Our legitimacy is rooted in student consensus.

“We are a government of the people (students) and by the people (students), therefore only the people (students) through a Students Representative Parliament, can remove Union Executives from office, pursuant to Section 38 (Pg. 40) of the Students Union Constitution.

“Despite the infamous and incessant, almost biennial nationwide strikes of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, the Federal Government of Nigeria cannot disband the leadership of the Staff Union, as this contravenes the fundamental human right to association, as ratified by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Paris, France, 1948, and as adopted by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Despite this new development, we will not be deterred in our commitment to student solidarity and general welfare. The age-old management tactic of encroaching on our fundamental human right to freedom of association (this time done preemptively) anytime there is a contrast of opinions between both parties, does not correspond with the tenets of a democratic society

“We hereby ask the management to do the right thing and engage the Students’ Union in talks, and reach a compromise, as we have previously promoted.

“We urge all students to remain vigilant, unfazed, and unperturbed, in the face of yet another challenge, as the Union continues to work round the clock, advocating and promoting the common interest of all UNIBEN students.”

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