Friday 8 March 2019

UNIBEN Students Union Executive writes on the SUG Market and June 12 Demolition

It is pertinent that word be sent out at such a time like this. It is no longer news that there was a demolition of the SUG market and a proposed demolition of all the structures attached to the June 12 Secretariat.

The SUG body is not ignorant of its' duties as regards standing for the rights of students and representing the students when and where necessary. It has also taken caution not to raise smoke where there may be no fire hence the perceived silence. There have been several versions of the stories surrounding the event and some comments being made, many of which are put out without having full knowledge of issues surrounding the demolition. This does not take out the fact that giant steps have been taken to ensure that the interest of students are put first.

To clear the air, we wish to state that this struggle has been a prolonged one; one that has been dragged through three administrations up until this time. The current executives of the SUG assumed office in September/October, 2018. This was four months after a notice of demolition had been served to the occupants of June 12.

On assumption of office, the Union deemed it fit to write back to the school authority to put the proposed demolition on hold after getting hold of a copy of the letter. This letter would be made available to the public if necessary.

In the said letter, the SUG stated clearly it's stand that it was totally against the proposed demolition and as such appealed that every move be placed on hold as we intended to look into the matter. We decided to restructure the complex instead of demolishing it as the environment is an eyesore.

Several reasons such as the affordability of goods, ready availability and communal benefits of June 12 were stated as well as the extra security it provides to students especially at night. This was all contained in the letter.

While we were still in talks with possible investors and developers on the said restructuring, word got to us that the Chief Security Officer was at the complex on Friday, the 1st of March, 2019 to personally instruct the occupants of June 12 to vacate the place as there would be a demolition on Monday the following week as the University Council had given that directive.

The executive members of the Union took proactive steps towards stopping the proposed demolition, employing diplomacy. Calls were put across to relevant stakeholders, including but not limited to the Dean of Students and the DVC, Administration.

On Monday, the following week, at about 9am, the SUG executives were on ground to resist the demolition if at all there were still any moves, while it prepared for a meeting with the DVC Administration at 11am the same day as regards this same matter.

The meeting lasted for several hours, and as been the custom, executive members were required to leave their phones at the Secretary's office. On leaving the DVC's office, word got to us that some security men had commenced demolition of the complex. The Union executives that were around marched down to the venue to resist and restrain them physically while also putting calls through to others to be on ground.

The demolition exercise was then put on hold until after concrete decisions have been taken after due consultation of all the parties involved. Several meetings have been held to this effect and yet another fixed to take a final decision.

The SUG is fully in line with the students' welfare and will do everything possible to ensure that every decision taken will be in the interest of the students. Proper information will be sent as at when due.

The SUG Market must remain.


Francis Ihejirika,
Secretary General,
Students' Union Government,
University of Benin.

Godwin Okafor,
Public Relations Officer,
Students' Union Government,
University of Benin.

The Students Spokesman

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