From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The power of the people prevailed, yesterday, when students of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) in their thousands forced the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Lilian Salami, to reverse the Senate order for indefinite shut down of the institution.
The university had announced the closure of the institution indefinitely following students’ protest over N20,000 penalty for late payment of school fees. The decision was endorsed by the university Senate. But the students led by former student union leaders of various tertiary institutions from the South-South stormed the school and forced the Vice-Chancellor from her residence to the main gate of the school, where she was compelled to renounce the shut down decision and imposition of penalty fee for late payment of school fees.
Salami who appeared helpless in the midsts of the angry students announced the re-opening of the university today (Thursday). She also apologised to the students for the shutdown order even as they demanded the removal of the university’s spokesperson and Dean of Students Affairs.
On Monday the students had protested the N20,000 levy on late school fees payment at the university’s two campuses; blocking the Ugbowo end of the Benin-Lagos road and Ekhehuan road, respectively, they created vehicular traffic and forced commuters to be stranded for hours.
To forestall the hijack of the protest by hoodlums, the university in a statement Tuesday night ordered the closure of the school and vacation of students from hostels.
Public Relations Officer of the university, Dr. Benedicta Ehanire, said the Senate of the university had met virtually and authorised the closure of the university with immediate effect following two days of protest by students over late school fees payment levy.
She said the action was taken due to security advice and also to prevent the escalation of the protest, which was already being hijacked by external forces.
She said the students would be called to school as soon as it was right to do so.