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Clash In Ivory Tower: ASUU Threatens To Shun April 28 Resumption Date Over Violence On UNIBEN Campus

Lucky Obukohwo, Reporting

The University of Benin Branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has said its members may not resume academic activities on the 28th of April 2024, if urgent action and necessary processes are not put in place to arrest the incessant violence attack on lecturers and management staff by some students of the institution.

The ASUU leadership also noted that it is constraint to embark on teaching and research in an environment in which lecturers are prime targets for brutalisation or elimination by some UNIBEN students they are labouring to impact with the wealth of their intellectual property following attack on her member.

The ASUU position is coming on the heels of the attempted murder of Dr. Presley Osemwengie, a lecturer in the Department of Economics and member of the University of Benin Branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), by some members of the Executive Committee of the University
of Benin Students Union.

A statement signed by Ray Chikogu and Success Abusomwan, Chairman and Secretary respectively, UNIBEN Branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and made available to newsmen in Benin City said Dr. Presley Osemwengie was attacked, hit in the back of his head with a small axe and left for dead in the pool of his own blood by some of those in the company of the Students Union President.

The statement reads in part, “We are constrained to issue this statement on the basis of the spate of violence and general atmosphere of insecurity that has pervaded the Ugbowo campus of the University of Benin of late.

“This culminated in the attempted murder of Dr. Presley Osemwengie, a lecturer in the Department of Economics and member of the University of Benin Branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), by some members of the Executive Committee of the University of Benin Students Union led by their President and some ex- as well as non-students of the University on Friday the 12th of April, 2024.

“On that fateful day, the President of the Students Union of the University of Benin marched upon a gathering of staff of the University and their invited guests, ordering them to discontinue their interaction as he was not pre-informed and consequently, did not grant permission for the interaction to be held.

“In the resulting melee, Dr. Presley Osemwengie was attacked; hit in the back of his head with a small axe and left for dead in the pool of his own blood by some of those in the company of the Students Union President.

“It is necessary to note that this worrisome trend began with the assault by both students and non￾students of the University on the person of the current Vice Chancellor of the University of
Benin in September 2021 when she was humiliated and marched from her residence to the Main Gate of the University in very hostile circumstances.

“Other similar and very unsavoury incidents in which students of the University of Benin have threatened and brutalised lecturers of the University have also been reported at different times. This cannot continue.

“We wish to now state that it is impossible for our members to hereafter dispose themselves to any teaching and research in an environment in which they are prime targets for brutalisation or elimination by some of the students they are labouring to impact with the wealth of their intellectual property. So it is incumbent on the Administration of the University of Benin to provide adequate security for staff of the University and create an atmosphere conducive for effective teaching and learning on our campuses.

“To the end that our members will feel safe to conduct their business of research, teaching, and supervision going forward from the 28th of April 2024 (being the date of resumption for the next academic session) therefore, and without prejudice to the work of the Committee set up by the University Administration to investigate the incident at stake, we state as follows as encapsulated in the resolutions of the meeting of the Congress of ASUU UNIBEN on Thursday the 18th of April, 2024.”

“Our Union condemns in very strong terms, the rebellious and terrorising acts of
brigandage being carried out by our students both as individuals and under the cover of student unionism in their entirety.” Chikogu said.

The ASUU leadership said the affront and impunity exhibited by the group of persons led by the Students Union President on the 12th of April 2024 is unacceptable and call on the University Administration to institute a thorough probe to identify students, including members of the executive committee of the Students Union of the University, who participated in the event(s) that led to the attempted murder of her colleague to be taken through the disciplinary process and
sanctioned as appropriate.

The academic staff noted that subject to the authorization of the Principal Officers of the Union arising from an emergency meeting, its members may not be available to resume academic activities on the 28th of April 2024 if immediate action and the necessary processes are not immediately initiated.

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