By Solomon Ayado
Pandemonium broke out recently at the second campus of Benue State University, Makurdi when a female hostel block was gutted by fire thereby displacing scores of students and burning their belongings in the process.
The ugly fire incident, which occurred at about 10.30 am lasted for more than three hours, destroying educational materials and other belongings of the students who have just resumed from vacation. The hostel was burnt to ashes before men of the state fire fighting service arrived at the scene.
LEADERSHIP Sunday witnessed some of the female students dressed half-Nak3d scampering for safety, just as others were weeping profusely and wailing, saying, “All our credentials are burnt.”
It was gathered that the fire sparked from one of the rooms probably because of partial light contact before it escalated to other places and finally burnt the hostel. Other sources said the incident was propelled by some persons that were in serious disagreement with the vice chancellor of the university, Prof Charity Angya over administrative matters.
However, the university public relations officer, Mr Tser Vanger who was at the scene of the fire incident told LEADERSHIP Sunday and attributed the cause of the inferno to electrical surge. He also debunked the claim that the fire was politically motivated.
It was gathered that some male students from the opposite hostel had to break the doors and windows to force themselves into the building in order to evacuate some of the property that were not yet consumed by fire. Some of them had used buckets to throw water at the burning block.
Since the incident occurred, the university’s management has not come out with a definite statement to explain how it intends to bring succor to the affected students. Many of the victims have parked out of the school into the nearby abode within the university community.
It has also been observed that renovation work on the burnt hostel block has not commenced and only God knows how well the affected students are faring and where they are taking refuge, especially now that school has resumed.
One thing that is rather provoking is the manner at which the entire tragedy is converted into a political theatre where aspirants are utilizing it as avenue for campaigns. They have competitively, donated relief materials to the university at various intervals with intent to create awareness of their candidature.
The students are currently in pains owing to the great loss. Many have lost credentials that would never be recovered but rather needed to be assisted by the university so as to obtain them.
A female student, identified as Queen (surname withheld) lamented the situation and appealed to the state government to come to their aid. She noted that the university has not declared any plans to assist them recover their lost properties including credentials.
“Many of us lost our credentials during the fire incident and we don’t know how we can get them back. Instead of the university to make effort in that direction, it is busy playing politics with the entire issue, receiving relief materials from aspirants,” she alleged.
Meanwhile, the dean of students’ affairs, Prof Armstrong Adejoh has confirmed the incident to newsmen and said that the cause of the fire disaster is yet to be clearly ascertained. He added that a committee has been set to ensure proper compensation for the affected students.