On October 5, this year, the quartet of Biringa Chidiaka Lordson (year two, Theatre Arts), Ugonna Kelechi (year two, Geology), Wike Loku (year two, Civil Engineering) and Tekena Erikena — all students of the University of Port Harcourt — were lynched and their corpses burnt for allegedly stealing mobile phones and laptops. The heinous act took place in Omuokiri-Aluu in Rivers State.
All the victims were aged below 22 years. This killing of another set of students took place less than one week after scores of students of tertiary institutions in Mubi, Adamawa State, were murdered in cold blood.
The claim by the residents of Aluu community that the UNIPORT 4 were killed because they allegedly stole laptops is unacceptable. The brazen manner the act was committed with the consent of the village head, Chief Hassan Walewa, is most despicable. Our statutes do not subscribe to either self-help or extra-judicial killing.
Even if the claim that the UNIPORT 4 stole those items they were alleged to have stolen, why didn’t the members of the vigilante group that apprehended them hand them over to the law enforcement agents for prosecution? Aluu, the host community of the University of Port Harcourt, had before now enjoyed an excellent relationship with the institution.
Why was it impossible for the village head to report this alleged theft incident to the school authorities for action? We do not want to believe that the village head and members of the vigilante group worked in liaison with an alleged debtor to one of the UNIPORT 4 , who was said to have raised a false alarm that led to the torture and brutal murder of the quartet.
What should worry everyone now is how cheap life has become in Nigeria. All and sundry now wilfully take the law into their hands because the Nigerian state is unarguably adrift. Heinous crimes are committed with impunity and hardly is any offender brought to book.
The law enforcement agencies, especially the Nigeria Police, have failed in the discharge of their responsibilities. Aluu community is not a remote place. It is located along the East-West road. The killing of the UNIPORT 4, going by the video posted on Youtube, lasted several hours.
Is there no police post in Aluu or any of the adjourning communities? Why was it not possible for any of the security agencies to have intervened in this incident? Whatever happened to community policing? The inspector-general of police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, should answer these queries satisfactorily.
In other climes, the murder of the UNIPORT 4 would have attracted a national recrimination. In Nigeria, the opposite is the case.
The authorities always make feeble attempts at bringing culprits to book.
A halt must be put to the killing of our youths. The culprits — whether in the murder of UNIPORT 4, the Mubi killings or any other incident — must be compelled to face the full wrath of the law as quickly as possible. The Ministry of Education should work out a policy aimed at fostering a harmonious relationship between students and their host communities. This will help in building trust.
Copyright © 2012 Leadership. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.