By Taye Obateru
Palpable fear of possible strike from the dreaded terrorists has gripped many tertiary institutions in the Northern part of the country following recent terrorist attacks on some institutions. First was at the Gombe State University before last Sunday’s attack on worshippers at the Old Campus of Bayero University, Kano where scores of innocent people were either sent to grave prematurely or were injured. Where next? is the question on the lips of many and students say they are enveloped by fear of any eventuality.
Prior to the attacks, security had been beefed up in many university campuses following alleged threats from the sect. Apart from rigorous search of bags, sophisticated metal detectors have been acquired to screen vehicles driving into the institutions. Concrete barriers have been placed at strategic places to prevent any surprise attack.
At the University of Jos, the management had in the past few weeks spent a lot of money on various security measures to preserve the lives and property of staff members and students of the institution. Concrete barriers now don the gates and around the Administrative Block while those going into the building are subjected to proper checks with a metal detector. Laptops and similar gadgets also have to be registered at entry points to major buildings.
Deputy Registrar (Information and Publications) of the university, Mr. Steve Otowo said the management led by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Hayward Mafuyai was alive to his responsibility of ensuring the security of staff students and property of the university. He said the university had been working with security agencies in addition to other internal security arrangements to forestall any ugly incident.
Despite this assurance, however, students who spoke to Saturday Vanguard said they were afraid and called for more stringent measures to secure the university. Some of them saw the security arrangements on ground as ineffective and porous which could be exploited by those with evil intent to infiltrate the institution.
For Edith Aliyu, a 400-level Microbiology student, the spate of attacks on educational institutions is worrisome. “I think it is having a serious impact and effect on the psyche of Unijos students of which I am one. Looking at the latest and recent attacks on universities, many wonder who will be the next? We pray it will not be Unijos”, she said. She called for more effective checks of people moving in and out of the university and for well-trained internal security personnel to handle the checks.
Chidinma Eze, a 400 -Level Accounting student had this to say: “The gunmen attacks on universities are demoralizing on students. University of Jos should strengthen their security and do more than they are doing right now. I know it is God that will guide us but we also have to watch and pray. I can no longer go to town because of these bombings. The university should get well equipped instrument to be able to detect bombs. More federal government securities will be appreciated like soldiers and mopols.
Faith Ochai, a 300-Level student of Political Science added a new dimension. Her words: “I feel it is because the gunmen do not have a future, that is why they are killing the leaders of tomorrow and the university should take drastic actions to prevent any attack such as bringing in more security agents.
It will be good if the university can fence the school properly. The checking of ID card though good, may not achieve desired results because a gunman can easily make an ID card claiming to be a staff or student and bring in bombs.
In his own case, Olamide Eseyin, a final year Computer Science student wants the security personnel in the institution to be more up and doing, decrying occasional situations when gates to parts of the university are left un-manned, a situation which could serve as an opportunity for those out for evil.
“Sometimes, no security personnel can be found at the gate post. People walk in freely and go out freely. In main campus where I take lectures, before the crisis, the almajiris, at Angwan Rogo (the adjoining community to the campus) used to jump through the fence into the premises. The Administrative Block is just a fence away from Angwan Rogo. Can gunmen not go through there to the administrative block?”, he noted.
Another student, Bernard Amaechi who is in 400 Level Economics Education had this to say: “This issue of security affecting us. Terrorism affects everybody and it has been a thorn on our flesh but this recent trend of trying to attack universities is really worrisome and disturbing. The university must strengthen its security. There should be strong security within the hostels.
These gunmen do not wear uniform. They do not have identification so you do not know who they are and they might pretend to be students. There is a need for proper surveillance, a kind of secret service that will not wear uniform but they will be working among students.
“Before you can surmount such an organized group that has gone through adequate training evident in their recent attack and their mode of attack, there is a need for a stronger and higher intelligence.
This group has shown so far that they are organized. Since they are organized, there is need for intelligence gathering, well-trained, experienced security personnel who have higher experience training to be able to curb and checkmate this menace of gunmen. Unijos security personnel must be well trained. They should also employ more hands so that they can man every corner of the school.”
It is obvious from the comments of students that the fear of gunmen has gripped many campuses making staff members and students alike worried and afraid. Many hope that the security measures would help stave off any further strike by the dreaded sect in any other tertiary institution.