BENIN CITY — One person was feared dead, while 15 peolpe were injured and over 50 vehicles burnt yesterday, during a clash between ex-militants, who were registered in the Igbinedion University Okada, Edo State and suspected cultists.
The burnt vehicles belonged to students and staff of the university.
The tension in the university started penultimate week, when four students in the Department of Medicine were abducted. It was learnt that they were later released after the families paid huge sums of money.
However, there was unconfirmed report of two headless bodies sighted at the scene of the incident, while the ex-militants held the entire institution hostage for several hours after they locked up the exit gates, making it impossible for the detachment of mobile policemen, that were deployed to the university by Edo State Police Commissioner, Mr Olayinka Balogun, to gain access to the scene of the clash.
It would be recalled that the university authorities had admitted 208 ex-militants, under the amnesty programme of the Federal Government, into different departments in the university.
It was learnt that the crisis started when some cultists in the university stormed the room of one of the ex-militants and attacked him with matchetes and axe, and destroyed property in his room.
Unknown to the cultists, the ex-militant was a “General” during the militancy days. He consequently put a call to his boys both in the school and outside. The ex-militants stormed the university with dangerous weapons and descended on the suspected cultists in the university.
One of the students told Vanguard: “As we speak now, the ex-militants have locked up the school gates and are destroying cars and beating up students. We have all taken off from campus but policemen are all over the place. We all fled because the ex-militants said they were coming back again tonight.”
Vanguard could not confirm the report, as efforts to get the Police Commissioner were futile, as he was said to have personally led his men to the university town of Okada to quell the crisis. However, Mr Balogun told one of the journalists, who earlier got him, that “it was a clash with rival cult groups.
We are at the Ivory Tower gate now to quell the situation. Every thing is calm. We have asked the students to go back to their hostels while we investigate the incident further.”
Five persons were said to have been arrested. Efforts made to reach the Public Relations Officer of the university, Mr Jide
Olugbon, proved abortive as his phone was switched off.