Posted by News Express | 11 September 2021 | 350 times
By TUNBOSUN OGUNDARE, Lagos
When the avengers came, they went to the village behind the university premises and killed up to 23 residents, including students. We have many students who are living in the village. The people of the community evacuated corpses of their persons and dumped them at the Government House… There was tension everywhere and nobody knew what would happen next and to whom.”
That scary picture was painted by one of the indigenes and residents of Lagos State who are students of the University of Jos (UNIJOS), Jos, Plateau State, who were evacuated last week from the school by the Lagos State government.
The students, 64 in all, plus a three-week-old baby, named Daniella and her mother, Manya Banfa, whose family lives in Ajah, were evacuated to Lagos in a bus, accompanied by armed security personnel and some state officials.
The students, who praised God and the Lagos State government, particularly Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Special Adviser on Education, Mr Wahab Tokunbo, for their prompt intervention and evacuating them from troubled Plateau State, recounted their ordeals while in Jos.
According to them, they lived in constant fear both in class and in hostels.
They said the latest crisis that rocked the city of Jos, Yelwa Zangam community and some other parts of Plateau State was like a war with no idea of who could be the next victim of gunmen who were killing innocent people, including students, and destroying property.
At a reception, a 200-level student of the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy, UNIJOS, Clinton Shotikare, thanked Governor Sanwo-Olu on behalf of all the evacuees for coming to their rescue and at the right time. He said they would remain grateful for the gesture and the hospitality they received in Lagos and the money given to each of them to go back to their families.
Giving more insights into their horrible experiences in Jos, the president of the National Union of Lagos State Students (NULASS), UNIJOS branch, Mr Jinaidu Ayorinde, who is in 300 level studying Actuarial Science, told Saturday Tribune that they were very lucky that no student from Lagos State lost their life to the crisis. “But some students lost their lives while several others were wounded,” he regretted.
Ayorinde, who hails from Lagos Island, described the Jos experience as one he could never wish on anyone.
He said it all started on a Saturday around 10 o’clock in the morning, after some travellers suspected to be Fulani were attacked and killed based on the atrocities said to have been perpetrated by some herdsmen in the area.
He said: “That was what sparked the latest crisis as some of their people came back for reprisal and in a bloodier manner and the students were the main target because the killing took place around the university community.
“When the avengers came, they went to the village behind the university premises and killed up to 23 residents, including students. We have many students who are living in the village. The people of the community evacuated corpses of their persons and dumped them at the Government House.
“Within that period, there was tension everywhere and nobody knew what would happen next and to whom, and that alone threw everybody, including the students, into total confusion. To worsen the situation, the state government imposed a 24-hour curfew and there was no food to eat because we could not go out.”
He said they had no choice but to get in touch with the Lagos State government for help and it was easy for them to gather themselves for evacuation because, as indigenes and residents of Lagos State, they all belonged to NULASS.
Ayorinde explained that the students had witnessed different communal crises in the area and Plateau State as a whole. He said about two months before the latest incident, a letter was allegedly sent to the school by unidentified gunmen asking the management to prepare for their coming.
He said the school, because of that, had to order all students to immediately proceed on a two-week break to enable the management to beef up security in and around the school.
“We returned to school after the management became satisfied with the security measures it had put in place to continue with our studies, and we were in the middle of our second semester examinations when the latest crisis erupted. Crisis is not new to us as we are constantly in fear in the school,” he emphasised.
He said it was horrible seeing corpses of innocent persons, including fellow students, some of them burnt beyond recognition, littering everywhere.
Describing the general security situation in the country as pathetic, Mr Aroyinde said government at all levels must devise means of securing lives and property of law-abiding Nigerians anywhere they live.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari, as the country’s chief security officer, ought to be more alive to the performance of that constitutionally defined role.
He noted that now that the situation had been relatively stabilised, with economic activities returning almost fully in Jos and other parts of Plateau State, he and the other students would be ready go back upon the resumption of the school.
“It is only that it is not advisable at the moment to travel by road back to Jos because of the many bad portions on the road,” he noted.
Receiving the students, Governor Sanwo-Olu thanked God for sparing their lives in the attacks and during the rescue operation. He said the evacuation showed that the state government had the capacity to respond to any emergency concerning the people of the state wherever they live.
The governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, urged the students not to lose touch with their studies as they reunited with their families.
On his part, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Mr Wahab Tokunbo, whose office was responsible for the evacuation, said the evacuation was another landmark response by the Sanwo-Olu-led administration.
He explained through the Permanent Secretary of his office, Mr Kasali Adeniran, who represented him at the event that the state government would continue to give adequate attention to the safety, security and welfare of the people of the state, including students, wherever they are. (Saturday Tribune)
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