Students protest against colleague’s death

 Protesting students

Protesting students

ACTIVITIES around the Ugbowo area were Tuesday paralysed for several hours and lectures could not hold as students of the University of Benin protested the death of two of their colleagues who were knocked down on Sunday by a patrol vehicle belonging to the Nigerian Army.

They were said to be crossing the highway after a church service inside the campus when the accident happened.

It was gathered that the two female students, identified as Rita Awele, and Efe, were on their way from a Catholic chaplaincy located within the school, when the patrol vehicle knocked them down at about 10.30am on Sunday.

It was learnt that the victims were both 200 Level students of the Department of Philosophy and they died few hours after being rushed to the hospital for medical attention.

The protest‎ left many motorists and travellers stranded for several hours, since 6:30am when it was reported to have started.

The aggrieved students lamented that there had been several deaths on the expressway close to the university’s main gate, owing to what they described as recklessness on the part of some motorists and the absence of speed breakers. They, therefore, demanded for a pedestrian bridge to be sited around the institution.

The Director of Sports of the Students Union Government, ‎John Ogedengbe, said:‎ “There should also be proper compensation for the families of the deceased and the army officer involved should be properly dealt with‎. The Commandant promised us that they will get to see the parents and they will take care of the logistics and they told us that the army officer involved was locked up. But we are not sure of their statement because we demanded an audience but they refused.”

But while the students claimed that the two victims did not survive the accident, the 4th Brigade Command and the management of the university said that one of them was responding to treatment.

The Army Public Relations Officer, Captain Jonah Unuakhalu, said that ‎the Command had commenced an investigation to ascertain the “actual cause of the accident” while efforts were being made to reach the families of the victims.

The message read: “On Sunday morning at about 8.30a.m., there was an accident involving Operation Pulo Shield Vehicle driven by a soldier that knocked down two females, who were confirmed to be students of University of Benin. They were, however evacuated to a nearby hospital where one was confirmed dead, while the other student is responding to treatment.”

“Efforts are being made by the Command to reach the university authority and families of the two students involved in the accident and also to further dialogue with the Students Union Government to avert the protest, but the students insisted on speaking with government officials. It is advisable that the students should keep calm as the Command is looking into the issue.”

Also, the spokesperson for the university, Michael Osasuyi, who confirmed that the school had made contact with the army, said: “The management is talking to them now to remain calm and abide by the rules and regulations and channel their grievances appropriately so as not to disrupt the peace. They are calling on the federal government to provide a flyover so that students are not knocked down on the highway again.

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