Anger as Benue Varsity forcibly evicts female students from hostels amid exams

Benue State UniversitySaturday March 1, 2014 was a terrible day for female students of the Benue State University (BSU), Makurdi who are resident in the university’s hostels as they were forcibly thrown out by the authorities of the university even as students are still engaged in their second semester examinations.
Shortly after 6PM of that day when many of the students had just finished their exams, hundreds of female students returned to the hostels to meet stern-faced security personnel and hostel porters who told them that they were there to evict them and lockup the hostels.
Many distraught female students who were seen standing by heaps of their belongings along Makurdi-Gboko Expressway told our correspondent that they had no place to stay for the night. Some others were weeping.
Efforts to get the views of the Dean of Students Affairs, Prof. Armstrong Adejo, failed. When our reporter called his cell phone, he claimed that the network was poor as he could not hear what was being said. A second call went to his voicemail after it rang out. A text sent to the same cell phone was not responded to up to press time.
The Special Adviser to the Benue State Governor on Media and Publicity, Dr. Cletus Akwaya, in response to our enquiries initially replied: “I will cross check the story and get back to you.” When he failed to get back as promised, he was called and he said the state government was not aware of the situation but that he was going to call the Commissioner of Education to be briefed. He again promised to revert back to our reporter but he never did as at the time of going to press.
A group of five female students told our reporter that upon returning from their exams at about 6pm on Saturday, they met the security personnel and porters at the entrance to their hostel who ordered them to vacate the hostels immediately. “We were not even allowed to prepare and take our dinner. We also told them that although some of us have finished our papers, many others still have papers up to next weekend. They (porters) will not allow us to say anything as they started to throw our things outside,” one of the students said amidst tears while trudging to the first gate (main entrance) of the university.
At the second gate of the university where a crowd of forcibly evicted students gathered, another female student said the security personnel and porters who came to their hostel to evict them did not even wait for some students to finish their exams before they started throwing out their belongings. “The security people were especially very unruly. They packed our belongings and dumped them outside as they locked up the place insisting that we were given notice and must comply. They threatened that if we don’t move out of the school’s premises, they have orders to also drag us out. It was unbelievable,” the student who pleaded anonymity said.
Another student said that prior to their eviction; the authorities of the BSU had written a notice which was signed by one James A. Uza on behalf of the Dean of Students Affair, Prof. Armstrong Adejo, directing student to vacate their hostels before or on March 1, 2014 latest 6pm. “I can say that we were shocked when the notice came out stating that the 2013/2014 semester was to start by March 3, 2014 while many students are still taking their exams which will come to an end on March 7, 2014,” the student said.
While the school authorities were harassing female students, they reportedly avoided going to the male hostels as the male students allegedly threatened to resist anyone attempt to evict them. “They (male students) even threatened to beat any security personnel or porter who dared to come to their hostels. The school authorities perhaps felt that the situation could easily have degenerated into a riot if they had tried to forcibly evict the boys as they did to the girls,” a male student confided in our correspondent.
Meanwhile, parents of evicted female students described the eviction as callous. One Mr. Lawrence Adanu who said he lives in Abuja but has one of his daughters as a student at the Benue State University said those behind the eviction directive should be sanctioned after proper investigation. “One of my daughters is a third year student at BSU and will finish her exams this week. How is she going to cope now since I don’t have any relations living in Makurdi that she can stay with? It is most callous of the university authorities to have evicted the students. The Benue State government must investigate and punish whoever is behind this utterly insensitive decision. Come to think of it, this is at a period when there is palpable fear in and around Makurdi due to disputes between Fulani herdsmen and Tivs,” Mr. Adanu said.
Another parent, Mr. Terwase Tiav, described the eviction as a manifestation of impunity that is everywhere in our society. “If this kind of a thing can happen in a university then the level of thinking in the country is actually becoming alarming. What rational explanation can the university authority provide for evicting students while exams are ongoing and at about 6pm? Did it not occur to them that many students do not live in Makurdi or what happens to those who have outstanding exams and have nowhere to stay? This is condemnable. It is absolutely unfeeling of whoever took that decision, Mr. Tiav said.

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