Students of the Faculty of Law, University of Benin, have rejected the results of the Law Students Association (LAWSA) election which was conducted yesterday. The students blame the Staff Adviser for the failed election which they had described as the worst in the history of the faculty of law.
Speaking to Town Crier, a final year student of the Faculty, who pleaded anonymity, narrated as follows:
“Before our election yesterday, we have heard speculations that our staff adviser is on a mission to handpick who will become the next LAWSAN president so that he can be in control of our association’s funds. An election that was scheduled to start by 10am, was postponed by the Staff Adviser to 1pm. The reason for the unilateral postponement was not given. When voting commenced, the Staff Adviser insisted that there was no need for a list of accreditated voters. But our agents were smarter. They counted 465 voters.
At the end of the voting, students insisted that the result should be counted at the Head of Department (HOD) office. Our HOD is highly principled, transparent and known for honesty. But the Staff Adviser objected. He sent out some electoral commisoners, leaving some with himself to do the counting of votes. At the end, 329 votes were announced for Collins, 265 for Kenneth, while 7 votes were declared invalid. In all, 601 votes were collated as presidency results, as against 465 votes counted by the agents.”
It was also reported to Town Crier that ballot papers were signed by the Staff Adviser and two staffs of the faculty of Law. However, some strange ballot papers were discovered amongst the original ballot papers. These strange ballot papers carry the signatures of the Staff Adviser only.
“What the Staff Adviser did yesterday was not only shameful but an abominable act that must collectively be condemned by the entire university community and also by everyone who values Nigeria’s hard earn democracy. The Staff Adviser can never rig our election. We are students of law. We are custodians of ethics, civility and justice, and never shall we allow ourselves to be reduced to touts and miscreants. We shall use whatever civil means within our reach to reclaim our mandate. We shall petition him to the Office of the Vice Chancellor where we hope to get justice. If that does not work, we have our other plans. But this injustice shall never see the light of the day.” a part three student added.
According to our investigation, no election was conducted for the electoral commissioners, as it has been the tradition of the LAWSA. Rather, the Staff Adviser handpicked students who constituted the electoral commission.
There was no formal accreditation of voters nor the use of identity card to ascertain the legitimacy of voters. Such that students from any faculty or even non-students could have easily worked into the voting hall and vote.
It is an indisputable fact that in the University of Benin, management through staff advisers are notorious for unduly interfering in student association’s affair. It is also indisputable that, for the management of the University of Benin, tribalism is a major consideration in determining who becomes who in the student’s association of union.
Consequently, some students believe the riging of the LAWSA election was on tribal ground, as the candidate in whose favour the election went was, like the staff adviser, from Edo State, while the opponent is from Imo state.