The Academic Staff Union of Universities has accused the Edo State Governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, of high-handedness in his quest to take over the possession of some property in the University of Benin.

The National President of ASUU, Dr. Nasir Fagge, made the allegation in a statement obtained by journalists on Monday in Abuja while reacting to the face-off between the state government and the university.

According to him, the action of the state government is unjustified and a calculated attempt to instill fear in the minds of the academics, who reside in those buildings.

Edo State Governor’s Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Mr. Kassim Afegbua, said what the government did was in line with the rule of law.

The PUNCH recalls that students of UNIBEN recently took to the streets, protesting against the destruction of some buildings occupied by senior lecturers of the institution allegedly on the orders of the state government.

ASUU also claimed that some of the academics, who fell victims of the destruction, were already counting their losses as important books and certificates, owned by the lecturers, were buried in the rubble.

Fagge said, “Our attention has been drawn to the attack on our members at the University of Benin by agents of the Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, in an attempt to forcibly take possession of some property of the university on which litigation is still ongoing.

“On December 23, 2014, unidentified agents of the Edo State Government mercilessly beat up and forcefully threw out our members, who occupied two property of the university under litigation and purportedly sold to some powerful individuals in the state.

“On January 5, 2015, more of our members were brutalised by agents of the government with more houses destroyed. On January 6, many of our members, including Professors, were given the beating of their lives when these unidentified agents swooped on ASUU members, who dared to visit the site of the destroyed houses. The houses of these members were destroyed with their property, including books and certificates, buried in the rubble.

“We believe that ours is a civilised society, where the rule of law should be allowed to prevail rather than substituting it with the crude doctrine of ‘might is right’. It is very sad that a government that should provide accommodation for its citizens so crudely preoccupied itself with the destruction of their houses.

“It is indeed very sad that a supposed ‘peoples’Governor, a beneficiary of the rule of law and a former President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, should be behind rendering Nigerians homeless.”

Defending the government action, Afegbua said, “We are not in the business of giving threats; what we did was according to the rule of law and not the rule of man as being presently sensationalised by the UNIBEN community. We will not be intimidated as government, neither are we going to succumb to blackmail.

“We expect ASUU to get proper briefing and interface with government before jumping to the easiest blackmail of threat to their members. Don’t forget that Oshiomhole is a unionist, who understands the dynamics of unionism and the limits of same.

“What we have simply done is to recover and repossess Edo State Government’s assets, located around Government House in GRA.” []

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