By Simon Ebegbulem & Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN—GOVERNOR Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has said that the state government served authorities of the University of Benin a notice, three years ago, to vacate 18 property belonging to the state government, but rather than vacate, they took the government to court.
The governor added that to fulfill all righteousness, the government waited for the court to deliver its judgment, which it did on December 16, last year, ordering the university authorities to vacate the said property “forthwith” ruling that the 18 property belonged to the state government.
According to him, having waited from December 16, 2014 for the illegal tenants to vacate the property and they refused, the government took steps granted by the court to recover the property in the interest of the people of the state.
Fielding questions from journalists on the issue, Oshiomhole said that as the governor, he has a duty and responsibility to hold in trust and protect all assets belonging to the people of Edo State that were entrusted to the government of the state.
On how the property got to the university authorities, he said: “As I am sure you will recall, when UNIBEN was set up, the then Military Governor, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, in his wisdom, decided as a young institution to assist some of the officers and staff with accommodation and so, some houses were made available to accommodate some of the staff of UNIBEN.
“However, they had occupied these property without paying any rent to Edo State Government but a couple of years ago, just before I assumed office as governor, the Federal Government in line with the policy of monetization under which salaries of employees including other allowances were abolished so that rather than provide these for certain categories of public officers, they were to be paid in lieu of either official quarters or cars.
“As a result of the decision, my predecessor in office, Prof Oserheimen Osunbor, disputed the claim of the Federal Government and the University of Benin that these assets from our records were assets of Edo State Government.”
The governor said shortly after assuming office, he was approached by counsel of the University of Benin asking him to sign some documents to transfer the landed property to the university which he declined, saying, “I told him that if UNIBEN needs any favour from Edo State Government, I expect the leadership or the VC to approach the Government of Edo State for such a favour, not to approach us through their legal adviser.
“I also reminded him that I am aware and it is the truth that salaries of lecturers, academic and non-academic staff had been monetised and even the salary of the VC was now over N1.5 million monthly because the provision for official quarters, car and driver had been monetised and added to their pay. In any event, the official lodge of the Vice Chancellor is within the premises of the University of Benin at Ugbowo and so he is not entitled to hold several other government property. He is not even entitled under the Federal Government policy now to occupy the official lodge of the VC except he pays rent for it.”
....As Edo Pdp condemns demolition
BENIN—EDO State Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has condemned the demolition of the University of Benin property given to the institution by the Dr. Samuel Ogbeudia administration at the inception of university.
The property serving as the official residence of the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Osayuki Oshodin and some lecturers of the university, were demolished by the state government on Monday.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after visiting the site of the demolished buildings, Edo State Chairman of the PDP, Chief Dan Orbih, said: “I saw the destruction of the official residence of the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin, Prof. Oshodin, on the order of Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
“For us in the PDP, we condemn in strong terms the demolition. Government is about service to the people and not about demolition of property.
"It is government’s obligation to protect lives and property. I appeal to Oshiomhole to stop the demolition of UNIBEN property. You don’t need to go to war to prove that you are the governor. We need peaceful co-existence of all residents in Edo State.
“What happened is sad, barbaric and has brought the state back 20 years and has reminded us of the Stone Age,” he said.