Recently, ‘Cross Riverians’ once again beheld the sordid pictures of a student of the State-owned University who was brutally hacked to death in cold blood right in front of his faculty building, after finishing his exams. This senseless killing adds to the endless list of unresolved murders in both the University of Calabar (UNICAL) and the Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH). Both Universities in recent years have been reduced to senseless killing fields, where students are hunted down like game in the metropolis. Even at the time of writing this lamentations, two more students have been reportedly killed in continuation of the madness. I shall try not to mention the case of two farmers who were only two days ago, beheaded in Whom by their Usumutong neighbors in the now volatile Abi Local Government Area of the State. This ugly trend is unacceptable, unjustifiable and must be condemned in the strongest terms.
Just recently, precisely on the 16th of March 2018, two students of UNICAL, Sylvester Oko and Wilson Ebina were gunned down right inside the University campus. On the 15th of June this year, Odey Thank-God, a 200 level student of the faculty of education, was also butchered within the school vicinity in the most daring manner. On the 29th of October 2016, a student of CRUTECH was dragged out of the male hostel and brutally chopped into bits like beef. On 26th October 2016, yet another unnamed student was shot and killed within CRUTECH campus. No trace of his killers till date. In 2012, Gilbert Kingsley, Director of Socials in CRUTECH was shot in the head at close range right inside the campus, spilling the grey matter in his head about the whole place. These do not include the daily reports of killings by suspected cultists within the notorious Ekpo-Abasi street – a predominantly student residents’ area very close to the campus.
The attitude of most people in the face of this senseless carnage is to dismiss the killings a cult-related, thereby justifying or normalizing the deaths and victims as members of secrete cults. It appears that even the Government of Senator Ben Ayade may have adopted a ‘sidon look’ attitude, while our Universities continue on a downward plunge from infamy to killing fields. We cannot dismiss these incidents as mere cult clashes. There is nowhere in the world where University campuses afford criminals unfettered rights ingress and egress to campuses where they kill students and commit the most heinous of crimes without hindrance.
It must be stated that the responsibility of any responsible Government is the security of lives. This responsibility is non-delegable, just as the right to life of its citizens is absolute. The Government has a positive duty to protect the lives of its citizens, especially of its students within the campuses. It also has the negative obligation under domestic and international law to ensure that the right to life of its citizen is not unlawfully taken away by non-state actors for whatsoever reason and under whatever guise. Part of this obligation include taking proactive steps to prevent these extra-judicial killings by adequately ensuring the safety of its students and staff within the campus, while at the same time ensuring that criminals are rounded up and brought to book.
To put a stop to this madness in our Universities, the Cross River State Government must take the security of its students and University staff very seriously, beyond the political rhetoric the State has endured since the administration came to power. The Government must invest in the security of its people. Since both campuses have become flashpoints of cult activities, Security Agencies must adopt satellite policing within both campuses to nib these clashes in the bud before they occur.
What we see in other parts of the world are well fenced University Communities, where both students and staff can only access the campus through security gates with access cards, which also serves as identities. This way, unauthorized persons with no business in the university campus are kept out while visitors are given temporary passes. A State under the leadership of two Professors, one would expect that the State-owned University would be developed to compete with the best Universities in the county and the African region, with the prospects of attracting scholarships from all over the continent and beyond, with the resultant benefits to both the State and its economy. As it stands, this is just a wish.
The Government must not sit by and watch the only State-owned University and the its sister Federal University be destroyed by the activities of cult groups and armed gangs. It must secure the future of its citizenry by protecting their right to education in a peaceful environment. This certainly is not too much to ask of any responsible Government.
The time to stop this bloodbath is now.
Usani Odum, a Masters student in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa, writes from the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Usani Odum, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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