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Protest: UNIBEN Threatens Closure As Students Dare Armed Soldiers

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The Senate of the University of Benin has threatened to shut down the school if dialogue failed to resolve the grievances that made the students hit the streets in protest.

The Senate’s warning came on the heels of students’ protest against power outages on campus even as if their first-semester examinations approached.

A viral video sighted by Meteor Nigeria on social media on Tuesday showed the students refusing to leave a barricaded road even as a short convoy of armed soldiers approached.

Some of the students were seen kneeling, facing the vehicle even as the soldiers dismounted and sought to clear the road.

The students refused to back down and their defiance encouraged other students who joined the kneeling students who refused to give way to the convoy.

The protest started earlier today when the students had taken to the street to complain about poor utilities and related matters within the university.

However, UNIBEN’s Public Relations Officer, Dr. Benedicta Ehanire, who conveyed the institution’s stance after an emergency senate meeting, on Wednesday, expressed dismay over the disruption caused by student actions.

Her statement deplored the students’ decision to block the federal highway that passes through the front of the institution, bemoaning the impact on commuters.

“This (outage) is due to the disputed monthly bill of over N250 million slammed on the institution by the electricity company,” the statement said.

“In the meantime, some members of the decision-making body have been mandated to continue with dialogue with the students on their unrealistic demand for 24 hours of electricity supply they enjoyed before the university was disconnected by BEDC.

The senate also noted that complaints regarding food and transportation costs, though valid, are beyond the university’s immediate control.

“The senate also described the two other complaints by the students about high costs of food and transportation as out of the university’s control,” read the statement.

In light of these developments, the senate affirmed that should talks fail and protests persist, the university would reluctantly consider temporary closure.

However, the institution recognized efforts by management to mitigate challenges faced by students amid broader economic difficulties.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the university’s dispute with the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) stems from a contentious electricity bill.

The university’s management had expressed dissatisfaction after BEDC allegedly increased the institution’s monthly electricity charges by over 200 per cent.

Reports indicate that the monthly bill escalated sharply from approximately N80 million to between N200 million and N280 million.

Consequently, UNIBEN has resorted to relying extensively on power generators and implementing power rationing across its campuses and hostels.

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