Staff and students of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) in Edo State on Wednesday resisted attempts by hoodlums to invade the institution’s main campus located in Ugbowo along the ever-busy Uselu-Lagos expressway, under the guise of protesting against the Central Bank’s cashless policy.
CAMPUS GIST gathered that the hoodlums had attempted to take advantage of the protest against naira scarcity in Edo State to invade the university, apparently with the motive of taking out their frustrations and anger on the commercial banks on campus.
Recall that some residents of the state had early Wednesday morning blocked the Uselu-Lagos road and other major roads in the city to protest unavailability of the new naira notes to customers.
Residents who had been going to banks for cash withdrawal, said they could not access their money. They were said to have become agitated when the commercial banks refused to accept the old naira notes as deposits.
The protest at the city square, Ring Road, turned bloody as at least three people were feared killed when they were engaged by security operatives after a foiled attempt to attack the Central Bank, Benin office located around Akpakpava.
Following the botched attack, the angry mob unleashed their angers on nearby commercial banks along Akpakpava by destroying their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and buildings.
At Ugbowo, hoodlums who had hijacked the protest attempted to invade the UNIBEN campus apparently in a bid to extend similar treatment to the campus-based banks. They, however, met strong resistance from staff and students who quickly responded by shutting the main gates.
In a viral video seen by this online media, some students were seen chasing away few hoodlums who had managed to enter the campus before the gates were shut against them.
The barrier across the expressway which was erected as a safety precaution on the pavements to mandate students to make use of the pedestrian bridge was pulled down by the mob.
A staff who spoke to CAMPUS GIST on the condition of anonymity, told this Reporter that she was caught up in the heat of the protest and had to take alternative route home.
“We were getting ready to leave when news got to us that there was heavy protest at main gate, and that it wasn’t safe at the moment to move around. I was forced to trek using the back gate as it was past time for school run and my kid was stranded,” she said.
Contacted, the Edo state police command spokesperson, DSP Chidi Nwabuzor told CAMPUS GIST that senior officers are on the field to get information on the incidents.
For days, Nigerians have been battling with the scarcity of naira notes — a development that has led to long queues at banking halls, and automated teller machines (ATMs).
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had given a deadline of January 31 for the use of old naira notes but it was extended to February 10.
On February 8, the supreme court temporarily restrained the federal government from banning the use of the old naira notes from February 10, 2023, pending the hearing of the matter on February 15.
Despite the court’s order, Emefiele insisted on the deadline.
On Wednesday, the apex court adjourned the hearing of the case brought against the CBN on the policy to Wednesday, February 22.
The stance of the CBN has triggered confusion as filling stations, supermarkets, and other business owners have continued to reject the old naira notes.