Students living under the barrel
By Odimegwu Onwumere
Many students across the country have met their deaths inconveniently. And the schools are gradually turning to a killing field. The students have either died as a result of cult related matters, shot by the Police, flogged to death or through something menacingly.
A number of the killings take place in broad day light, while others at night. To Nigerians, the tragedies are irony to the victims who never expected that their lives would be logged out when they never expected.
When it happens, fear grips the livings, who are mostly survivors. Dejectedly, in some situations, the killings continue unabated, no matter the efforts being made by the appropriate authorities to halt the situation. In some development, the victims are rushed to the hospital after receiving several gunshots from their assailants, or lashes of the cane from their teachers.
No drawn line to bestiality
Killing of students in the country do not have a drawn line. In March, 2016, Abia State University, Uturu, stood motionless as supposedly cultists beheaded fellow students over rival cult activities.
While Nigerians were shouting over the dishonorable act, they went as far as using the heads of their victims as goalposts. The two students who were victims of the prowlers were given as 300 level students of the university.
One was of the Department of Estate Management and the other, of the Department of Political Science. Their names were given as Ebuka Nwaigbo and Samuel Ethelbert.
Irked by the ugly incident, the Abia State Police Public Relations Officer, Ezekiel Onyeke Udeviotu told newsmen that the state Commissioner of Police, Joshiak Habilah was on top gear through the Criminal Investigation Department to survey what led to the killing of the students.
While that lasted, similar incident took place a year ago when 9 students of the school were reportedly, lost their lives to cult clash. Craving anonymity, a source said, “It all started in the night at Ogbonna Street in Okigwe. A member of a cult shot another member of an opposing cult dead. As at that evening, 9 students were shot dead. Ike Road and Ubaha Street recorded some bodies of the victims.”
In the same month of March 2016, the Kogi State Polytechnic, Lokoja, was closed ad infinitum. Trouble was said to have started when the students protested over the death of a female student who was killed.
It was a move to avert further deaths that the school was shut down following the violent protests by the students. The spokesperson of the school, Luke Yakubu who customarily inveterate the story to journalists, said that the deceased met her untimely death in a wrangle with a commercial motorcycle machinist over N50 transport fare. She was stabbed to death.
In Nov, 2015, Police said that they have arrested a young boy who pierced and killed a school prefect. Trouble was said, started, when the 19-year-old Senior Secondary School student, Saka Ahmed also known as Ejo, of Gaskia College, Amukoko, Lagos, allegedly knifed a prefect, Saheed Jimoh, to death for grueling him over lateness.
In March 2013, death toll increased in the Lagos State University, LASU, following the horrific murder of Damilola Ibrahim Olaniyan, a.k.a Damoche, a student of the school, by assumed cultists at LASU. The deceased was later buried in Badagry. By then, three more students were felled down (and counting) by gunmen suspected to be cultists.
While in the Abia State University, the beheaded students were believed to have been killed by opposing cult group, it was a different story in University of Jos, UNIJOS. It was in March 2016, the students of the school took to the streets in protest over the shooting of a student by a so-called security staff in Jos.
The student’s name was given as Hezekiah Paul. And he was a 300 Level Computer Science. Despondently, the Plateau Specialist Hospital where Paul was rushed to stood tranquil, when he later gave up the ghost.
When this happened, the students registered their remonstration to the office of the Directorate of State Services, near Police A Division. They later went to the Plateau House of Assembly, where they evenly made their complaint known.
At the Plateau State House of Assembly, Speaker Peter Azi spoke to the angry students, saying, “I was with the Commissioner of Police this morning, to seek an elucidation. I was told that the suspect had been arrested.”
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Emmanuel Abuh (DSP), illustrated the unpleasant-incident as unfortunate, while fielding questions to journalists. Ostensibly, the news from Kano was not different; a man whose name was given as Ado-Maje Sadik purportedly killed his student-friend over girlfriend in January 2016.
The story of Oghenekevwe Edah, a final year student of the University of Port Harcourt, was told that he met his untimely death in the hands of the Police on his way back from church in the Alakahia area of Port Harcourt in 2015.
The Police who were in the denial of being the killers later admitted killing him. The fairy-tale that led to his death was given that a police van that was running against traffic hit him and wanted to run but onlookers prevailed. Police initially did not accept killing him but that they picked him on the road.
It was learnt that in a condolence message issued and sent to the deceased’s family on behalf of the state Commissioner of Police as at the time, Musa Kimo by Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations), A.A. Muhammed gave hope that justice would not only be mentioned but seen that it was executed.
Unrelenting killing of students by Boko Haram
In 2013 alone, several students’ lives were lost when members of the Islamic sect known as and called Boko Haram, stormed the College of Agriculture in the town of Gujba in Yobe State, in the early hours and, killed dozens of sleeping students. The military spokesman Lazarus Eli in the area that year, lamented, “Boko Haram terrorists who went into the school and opened fire on students.”
The provost of the state college, Molima Idi Mato, frowned, “As many as 50 students may have been killed in the attack, which began at about 1 a.m. local time.”
Proposition: Students in danger
Across Nigeria, lives of students seem not to worth anything in the hands of both legal and illegal weapon-bearers. In January 2016, a group known as Islamic Movement Group cried out that it was over a month when some members under its tutelage were allegedly killed by the Nigerian Army.
The Nigerian Army was also fingered to have invaded not only the home of the leader of the Movement, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, but also two Islamic Centers and the Cemetery/Film Village.
Above all, it is evidence that Boko Haram has killed more students in Nigeria than HIV/AIDs had done, said authorities. Nonetheless, in February 2016, a police official allegedly shot a young man whose name was given as Yunusa; a student of Government Day School, Pantami township stadium in Gombe, after an inter school football match.
While Yunusa was shot, it was not the fate of a student of IMG Secondary School, Oke Ado, Ibadan, whose teacher was said to have flogged to death, because the student came to school late.
How students are killed in Nigeria leaves observers not to even know how to start telling the story. A social critic while comparing what obtains in the Nigerian school and abroad, said that implementing a balance will curtail further occurrence.
“I have lived in both the corporal punishment system and the American system and both have their major downfalls. I don’t know what the solution is, or where the middle ground is. I do know however that something needs to change on both spectrums, because the fatalities are staggering,” the source said.
•Odimegwu Onwumere is a writer and consultant based in Rivers State. (firstname.lastname@example.org). Tel: +2348057778358.