…As UNIPORT declares 7-day mourning
From CHRIS ANUCHA, Port Harcourt
Omuokiri village in Aluu Clan, where four students of the University of Port Harcourt were murdered is now a graveyard, as residents are fleeing the area for fear of being arrested by security agents.
A visit to the area, which was about three kilometres to the University of Port Harcourt, portrayed an image of a tension-soaked environment. Most people had fled their homes, while a couple of others, who were still hanging around yesterday, kept safe distance from strange faces. Others quickly locked their doors as soon as they sighted strangers, to avoid arrest, as according to them, it was difficult to distinguish between civilians and the security men in mufti. They told Daily Sun how security agents stormed the community and arrested people indiscriminately, and still warming up to come for more arrests.
One of the residents, who spoke to Daily Sun on the condition of anonymity, condemned the mass arrest of residents of the community by the security agents. Another reason that made residents to desert the community was the fear of possible reprisal attack from the students of the University of Port Harcourt. But the President of the Student Union, Maxwell Soye Nyamabo, allayed the fear.
He told Daily Sun that the student had been told to remain calm and allow security agencies to do their duties. According to Nyamabo, the Student Union Week, which was billed to start yesterday, had been suspended indefinitely. “Injury to one, is injury to all, we have suspended the Students Union Week, to mourn our colleagues,” Nyamabo said. Meanwhile, the authorities of the University of Port Harcourt had declared seven-day mourning for the murdered students.
The University also ordered that the national flag should fly at half-mast. Also, identities of the students had been made public by UNIPORT authorities. They are, Biringa Chiadika Lordson, a second-year theatre arts student, with Matriculation Number U2010/1805036, Ugonna Kelechi Obuzor, also a year two geology student with Matriculation Number U2010/5565149 and Mike Lloyd Toku, year two civil engineering students, with Matriculation Number U2010/3010094.
The fourth person, Tekena Erikena, was yet to be identified as a student of the University of Port Harcourt, but information had it that he was a student of school of basic studies. Addressing newsmen yesterday at the Governing Council Chambers, Senate Building, UNIPORT, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Ajienka, said the University was mourning the death of the students. According to him, the university had been working in concert with the Nigeria Police and other security agencies, to unravel the circumstances that led to the killing of the four students.
He explained that the lynching of the students took place outside the jurisdiction of the university, adding that the university bore no responsibility for security outside the campus, even as it accepts the fact that students live and commute to the campus from some of the host communities, including Aluu.
The Vice Chancellor, Professor Ajienka also explained that students and staff, who wish to reside in any of the host communities, did not usually consult the university. “Omuokiri, Aluu Community where the incident reportedly took place is about three kilometres outside the university.
Because the incident took place outside the university, where it has no jurisdiction, it would be prejudicial to on-going investigations for authorities of the university to issue independent statements on the issue, without cooperation from such agencies, which are in the forefront of the investigation. “As it is to be expected under the circumstance in which we now found ourselves, the university is in a mourning mood in honour of the murdered students.
Also, the ongoing 2012 Student Union Week was to commence this morning (Yesterday) has been put off immediately. Flags are already being flown at half mast as a mark of honour to the deceased students,” the VC further said. Professor Ajienka, appealed to the security agencies to bring the perpetrators to book and also unravel the exact circumstance surrounding the unfortunate incident.
He said: “In as much as we condemn all forms of criminality, the authorities of the University of Port Harcourt wish to state in unequivocal terms, that nobody has the right to engage in extra-judicial killing or resort to self-help, no matter the level of provocation. Whatever was the grievance(s) of the lynch mob should have been promptly reported to the relevant law enforcement agencies, than resorting to the law of the jungle.” He also commended the Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, for his timely intervention that prevented the issue from degenerating into war.
The vice chancellor also commended the students for what he described as their maturity and understanding and the security agencies for prompt arrest of some of the suspects.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State police command said the area where the incident occurred last Friday morning was calm. The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Ben Ugwuegbulam said the command had reached out to all the parties concerned. He said security men would continue to patrol the area to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order.