The Guardian
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Youths, civil society groups clash at Benin Neuro-Psychiatric hospital


Tragedy was yesterday averted at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Uselu, Benin City, in Edo State when youths in the host community clashed with civil society groups.

The rights group had staged a peaceful protest against the hospital management over the alleged sack of some workers.

Members of the coalition of civil society organisation and youths of Uselu engaged in fisticuffs. The youths however, overpowered the protesters, who scampered for safety, with their placards destroyed.

The situation put the in-patients and staff of the hospital in anxiety as they feared for their lives.

It took police intervention and the hospital security men to avert full-scale violence with casualties.

President of the Network of Civil Society Organisations, (NOCSON), Abraham Oviawe, had asked the management of the hospital to reinstate the sacked hospital workers within 48 hours.

The Guardian gathered that the sack of some employees of the hospital, including two consultants, with approval from the Federal Ministry of Health, pitted the members of civil society groups against the hospital management.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the hospital, Efe Stewart, described the protesters’ actions as barbaric. He accused them of taking the law into their hands, especially as the case is already before the court.

Stewart alleged that the group is acting the script of a paymaster and sponsors, who had been dismissed by the hospital since November 2014.

“The civil society groups are ill-informed about what is happening at the hospital. They were out to blackmail the hospital,” Stewart said.

Reacting, Secretary of NOCSON, Comrade Kola Edokpayi, alleged police bias during the clash, calling on the Inspector General to act immediately.

Edokpayi said two of their members were arrested during the protest. “As we speak, two of our members have been arrested and in cell at the Okhoro Police station with the Divisional Police officer saying the State Commissioner of Police is interested in the matter.

“We were at the Medical Junction, a few metres away from the hospital, when some suspected thugs attacked us,” he explained.

Police spokesman, DSP Okafor Theodore however, said the police command was yet to be briefed on the matter.

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