53 Arrested Over Varsity Crisis


Benue State Police Command has arrested 53 persons in connection with the crisis that rocked Benue State University, Makuradi, recently, leading to destruction of government properties.

This was disclosed by ASP Ejike Alaribe, the Public Relations Officer of the command, in a chat with P.M.NEWS in Makurdi.

According to him, “officers and men of the command embarked on a raid of the university and recovered several items that were looted from the office of the Benue State Internal Revenue Service Board.”

ASP Alaribe added that some of the items recovered include computers, chairs, electronic gadgets and other office accessories.

Alaribe promised that the police command will not rest on its oars until all the hoodlums who cashed in on the crisis to damage public properties are arrested to serve as deterrent to others.

Trouble started last week when the students went on the rampage, following the death of two of their schoolmates allegedly shot by a police officer.

The students, Unogwu James, a 400 level student of Physics Department and Ayodele Emmanuel, a 100 level Biological Science student, were allegedly shot by a police officer in the process of quelling a riot.

The riot, P.M.NEWS gathered, was caused by the death of a 55-year old retired Benue civil servant knocked down by a speeding Dangote truck. The man was killed in front of the second campus axis of the university.

Initially, the identity of the man caused a lot of confusion. While some claimed that he was a final year Accounting student of the university, the university authority through its spokesman, Mr.Tse Vanger, denied he was not.

The incident angered the students, who demanded for the driver who had taken refuge at a police station. The enraged students went haywire, blocked the federal highway from the Wurukum round about with bonfires. Traffic was disrupted for over five hours, as people scampered for safety.

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“It was like a war scene. People fell as they ran for safety. The police shot tear gas into the air to disperse protesters and the whole area was engulfed in smoke,” Mrs. Priscilla, who owns a shop around the area, told our reporter.

The irate students destroyed government as well as private facilities. Cars were burnt, street lights were destroyed and shops were looted. The destruction and vandalisation of the multi-million naira Benue State Internal Revenue Services complex, BIRS, was the worst hit.

The board moved to the new complex only last year from the state government secretariat. The extent of damage done was massive, as the entire complex was set ablaze and all the offices looted. Items removed or destroyed include computers, furniture, cement, an 18-seater bus and a Toyota Hilux van were also smashed.

Deputy Governor of Benue State, Chief Lawani, who visited the place to ascertain the level of destruction, expressed shock at the magnitude of the damage done, describing it as a ‘planned and calculated’ attack.

He urged staff of the board not to be deterred by the act, assuring them that government will liaise with its Chairman, Mr. Andrew Ayabam, to ensure that work goes on at the internal revenue board.

While expressing satisfaction with the action so far taken by the security agencies, he urged the police to ensure that perpetrators of the heinous act are prosecuted.

Chairman of BIRS, Mr. Andrew Ayabam, maintained that the board would not be deterred by the nefarious act. The Benue Internal Revenue Board is the highest employer of labour in the state, engaging over 2000 graduates, mostly from Benue State University.

The State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Christopher Katso, described the act as “dastardly and wicked”, explaining that the timely intervention of his men saved the situation from degenerating.

—Ubong George/Makurdi

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