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Alexander Okere, Benin
EX-militants, under the Presidential Amnesty Programme at the Benson Idahosa University, Edo State, have staged a protest over the non-payment of their allowances by the Federal Government.
The ex-agitators, who chanted solidarity songs, barricaded the school gate and disrupted academic and non-academic activities in the institution for several hours.
They also mounted bonfires within the institution.
But the management of the university described the demonstration as a violation of the school’s rules and regulation.
Spokesperson for the protesters, Preye Noel, lamented that the beneficiaries of the amnesty programme had been studying under frustration without the allowances.
Noel also noted that their tuition had not been paid by the amnesty office.
“We want to tell the world that a hungry man is an angry man. For several months, our monthly stipend and school allowances have not been paid.
“We are aware that our tuitions have not been paid to the management of the university. But we have been receiving lectures and taking exams with hunger.”
He, however, apologised to the management of the university for shutting down academic activities, which he blamed on the frustration faced by many of the affected students.
According to him, the amnesty programme was a “product of crisis”, which had led to the rehabilitation of the ex-militants.
Preye, therefore, called on the National Assembly and the Federal Ministry of Finance to pay the outstanding allowances.
Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ernest Izevbigie, said that the management of the university commenced a joint investigation with the office of the presidential adviser on the amnesty programme to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the protest.
Izevbigie, who spoke during a press briefing on Friday, said that the university would not tolerate students taking the law into their own hands.
He said that though no student or staff was injured during the protest, serviceable tyres belonging to the university were destroyed.
The vice-chancellor said, “Regardless of the number of months for which they have not been paid, it is not sufficient for anyone to disturb the peace or act in a very inappropriate way. We will leave no stone unturned. We will get to the bottom of this.”
He continued, “Demonstration is a violation in the university. If you have any concern, there is a process. They (protesters) have access to the Dean of Students’ Affairs.
“We have that management-students forum and they have utilised that mechanism on several times. They had that opportunity, but chose not to; so that is a violation.
“For them to have secured the gate, they prevented people who wanted to leave or come in. That itself is a serious offence.”