Protesting students vandalise Igbinedion’s cars
Protesting students of the College of Education at Ekiadolor in Ovia Northeast Local Government Area of Edo State clashed yesterday with the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion.
The protesters allegedly smashed two vehicles in the convoy of the Bini chief and some louvres in the college’s administrative building.
Some of the institution’s workers, including the Registrar, fled into the nearby bush when the students started hurling stones at the building.
The students also beat up a cameraman from Channels Television, Osato Egbe, and destroyed his camera. They mistook him for a cameraman from Independent Television, Igbinedion’s television station.
Egbe said he was at the school to cover the protest and the dilapidated hostels when the students attacked him.
He said: “My camera was destroyed. I went to film the students’ hostel and when I was coming out, some students attacked me. It was the villagers that rescued me.”
Trouble started when Igbinedion, who was going out for his 80th birthday, ran into a barricade set up by the students on the Benin-Lagos Expressway.
The students said they took the action to draw government’s attention to a work-to-rule strike by lecturers and workers of the institution.
Many motorists and travellers were stranded.
It was learnt that Igbinedion urged the students to allow him pass through but the students refused.
Sources said the security detail attached to the chief shot into the air and fired teargas to scare the protesters away.
The shooting reportedly enraged the students, who vandalised two cars in the Esama’s convoy.
A student, Enabulele Ugbesia, said the protest was peaceful and meant to make the lecturers return to work.
He said: “Our lecturers went on a three-day strike. After that, they went for a week. Now, they have begun a work-to-rule strike. We are about to write our examinations and they are delaying us.
“We stopped vehicles on the highway. The Esama came and said he would give us money to clear the road, but we refused. The police started shooting. We want to graduate. The government should look into the matter.”
It was also learnt that the students became more enraged when the school was closed immediately via a secular pasted on the premises.
But the students said they would not leave the hostels, although some were later seen leaving the premises.
Among the demands of the lecturers are increased funding of the school and the payment of 16 months’ salary arrears.
Establishment, Labour and Special Duties Commissioner Didi Adodo said the government was not owing the lecturers.
He said there was an agreement signed in 2010 indicated that the government would not pay arrears if it implement the new salary structure.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Higher Education Mrs. Gladys Idahor said the students were asked to go on the mid-semester break.
She said the lecturers agreed that no arrears would be paid but turned around to demand for payment.
Mrs Idahor said: “We don’t collect anything from what they earned from their internally generated revenue (IGR)|. We pay subvention and we made them to understand that building infrastructure would soon be made possible.”
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