NIGERIANS on Twitter have been expressing their feelings over the recent clash between students of the University of Benin and men of the Nigerian Army.
The incident, according to a viral video, started when a soldier was manhandled and beaten by angry students and school security personnel on Thursday, February 2.
The students had been provoked when the military officers refused to queue, and they forcefully withdrew money from an ATM machine in the school premises.
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According to a tweep who shared the video of the incident, the soldier was alleged to have asked his female colleague to beat a female student for video-recording them.
“Soldiers came into Uniben to withdraw (money) from ATM. They forcefully used the machines and at one point asked a female soldier to beat up a female student because they thought she was recording them. The students did not take the harassment lightly as they retaliated.”
However, in an alleged reprisal, the soldier stormed the school in the early hours of today and injured scores of school security guards, students and passers-by.
According to a viral video, the military men also damaged cars and some other school properties during the attack.
Meanwhile, students of the university have blocked the Benin-Lagos expressway over the alleged oppression by military personnel.
Popular twitter user, Daniel Regha, tweeted,
“The conflict between UNIBEN students & the Nigerian Army is alarming, both sides were wrong, but the soldiers retaliating by assaulting people while vandalising properties is beyond shameful. This is an abuse of power. @HQNigerianArmy address this issue, & punish the culprits.”
Another tweep with user handle @iSlimfit also wrote,
“Imagine the fact that it’s ATM withdrawal that caused the whole UNIBEN chaos. Most of the problems in Nigeria are avoidable if we had sane people in government and of course if the Nigerian Army started behaving like humans and not animals.”
UNIBEN management reacts
The university’s Vice Chancellor Professor Lilian Salami, in a statement released earlier today, said the management was in discussion with the hierarchy of the Nigerian Army for an amicable resolution.
“The Management acknowledges that these are challenging times for everyone and enjoins all to remain calm while efforts are being made to avert a re-occurrence,” Salami said.
She called on the students to engage dialogue in resolving issues that concern them rather than taking to protests at any provocation, “thereby causing more injury and damage to themselves and other citizens.”
The ICIR efforts to confirm and get an update of the situation from the Edo State police public relations officer proved abortive as calls were not picked and an message was not returned.
Also, the Nigerian Army has not released any press statement on the incident as of the time of filing this report.
Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M