Olumide Akpata attacked at UNIBEN

Olumide Akpata
Olumide Akpata

Former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Olumide Akpata suffered an attack on Friday afternoon at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Edo State.

In a Saturday statement, Mr Akpata, a governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Edo State, accused a senior state government official of masterminding the attack.

The lawyer was at the varsity as a guest at an interactive session organised by the UNIBEN Staff Club.

He was violently interrupted during the event, causing crisis within the school premises.

In a viral video released on Saturday, Akpata said a senior lecturer who sustained injury as a result of the attack is currently receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital in Benin.

He also debunked allegations that his security personnel shot a student on the campus, noting that nothing like that happened.

He said, “My staff drew my attention to a video that is making the rounds currently of an individual who claimed to be shot at an event I attended on Friday and claimed to have been shot by my security agent.

“I looked at the video, and nothing could be farther from the truth. I only wished that the individual could show his face to determine the veracity of his story.

“I was invited to the University of Benin Senior Staff Club to hold an interactive session with members of the club. I’m told that a similar event took place a couple of weeks ago by the PDP candidate. To our surprise and consternation, this event was interrupted very rudely by some hoodlums who claimed to be students of the University of Benin.

“They disrupted the event, insisting that it shouldn’t be held without informing them. You can imagine how shocked we were, including the professors there. They barricaded the gate with their vehicles, there was a fracas in the precinct of the club, and a lecturer was injured and he is at the hospital.

“I had to be taken away by security personnel, and even as we attempted to leave UNIBEN, the highway was barricaded. It took my security personnel to remove the barricade before we continued our journey.

“We know what is going on. It is election season, and it is quite obvious that some of our old and very tired politicians are up to their usual antics and have learned nothing.

“I have it on good authority that those hoodlums were deployed by a senior official of the Edo State government, and I’m speaking directly to this official now. I know you, and you know me.

Akpata added, “I want to place it on record that at no time was a student of the University of Benin shot. The video was done to bring misinformation, I was the one who was attacked alongside the professor.

In a statement by the Students Union Government of UNIBEN signed by its president, King Lemuel, and secretary, Eriamiatoe Miracle, the SUG frowned against using “students as a means of campaign” and noted that the president of UNIBEN Staff Club is being questioned by the appropriate authority.

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The SUG alleged that the union was never informed about the interactive session involving Akpata and added that the school security was not aware of any authorisation for such a meeting.

The SUG statement read in part, “While the saga continued, the Labour Party governorship candidate stormed out and drove out of the venue. We further heard gunshots sound at the school gate, and on getting there, it was made known to the SUG that the convoy forced themselves into the school premises to do whatever they liked.”

Meanwhile, the management of UNIBEN has condemned the attack on the LP governorship candidate, noting that an investigation would be carried out to unravel the cause of the pandemonium.

A statement signed by the spokesperson of the institution, Benedicta Ehanire, said: “The management of the University of Benin has condemned in strong terms reported violence during the visit of the Edo State Labour Party’s gubernatorial candidate, Mr Olumide Akpata, on the invitation of the Senior Staff Club of the institution.

“The violent incident, allegedly perpetrated by some students, is unacceptable. Consequently, management has set up a committee to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the violent action.

“The committee, headed by Prof Frederick Ekhaise, has one week to submit a report to management.”