By Umar Yusuf
Yola— No fewer than 40 students of the Adamawa State University, the Federal Polytechnic and the School of Health Technology, all in Mubi, Adamawa State have been killed in a midnight attack by gunmen in Mubi.
Some residents put the number of victims at 35 persons while others said 26 students were killed.
The incident happened at about 10 p.m on Monday at Wuro Fatuje, a popular off campus hostel housing students from the three tertiary institutions.
A source at the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi told Vanguard in a telephone conversation that the gunmen invaded the off campus hostel on Monday night and took advantage of the down pour to unleash terror.
The source said the gunmen shot sporadically for hours, adding that this left many students dead, adding that 26 students were confirmed killed on the spot, while scores of others were injured, many of them on danger list.
The source, who quoted eyewitness accounts, added that the gunfire kept residents of Mubi awake all night, heightening the already tense situation in the area. He said he counted 26 dead bodies at the Mubi General Hospital yesterday morning, even as more bodies were being recovered from the venue of the incident.
The incident came barely a week after the Joint Military Task Force recorded a major breakthrough, arresting over 156 suspected terrorists and discovering a local bomb manufacturing factory as well as cache of arms and ammunition. Since the major breakthrough, a 24-hour curfew has been imposed on Mubi and its environs.
At press time, Brigade Commander of 23 Armoured Brigade, Yola, Brigadier General John Nwoaga; State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Geoffrey Okereke; Director of State Security Service, SSS and other service commanders have relocated to Mubi for on-the-spot assessment of the insecurity problem.
Killers called out students’ names before shooting them —Police
The police have, meantime, officially confirmed that the unknown gunmen that carried out the attack called out the names of the student victims before killing them.
Police said the assailants shot and killed 19 students in an off-campus student housing area, and six other persons including a security guard, a retired soldier and other persons who were not students. Adamawa State Police Command Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Mohammed Ibrahim, in a phone interview with an online publication said 15 students sustained serious injuries and have been hospitalized.
He said: “We are just leaving Mubi with the Commissioner of Police, and Brigade Commander. Nineteen of the 25 persons killed were students. Although the investigation is continuing, there are signs that there may have been some internal factors, but we cannot prove it until we complete our investigation.”
A spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, however, said initial reports indicated some of the victims were candidates in the student elections.
The agency’s spokesman, Yushau Shuaib, said “the crisis in Mubi is suspected to have been fuelled by campus politics after an election at the Federal Polytechnic.”
Abdulkarim Bello of the Red Cross said “they were conducting elections in the Federal Polytechnic and unknown gunmen just entered and sprayed people with bullets.”
A student who refused to give his name, said the gunmen were wearing solders’ uniforms, and were calling out the names of students before killing them, a claim that tallies with the police report.
The student said after surrounding the compound around midnight, the gunmen started taking the students outside, asking their names and shooting them, while others butchered some students with knives. The mutilated corpses were left lined up in the courtyard.
Connection with last Sunday’s SUG elections
The student said the killings were likely to be connected to last Sunday’s Student Union Government elections, which were heavily contested on regional ground between Northern and Southern students in the institution.
A resident told the BBC: “It is not clear why some were killed and others spared. Some of the dead were Muslims and others Christians. Everybody is scared.”
Collaboration of security operatives
Meanwhile, a security source has said that the killing of the students would not have been possible without the collaboration of terrorists, who migh have infiltrated the security outfit.
The source, who is a Christian member of the security outfit stationed in Mubi, cited the curfew that has been in place in Mubi, Adamawa since January 2012 which starts at 3 p.m. and ends at 6 a.m. daily and stressed that the operatives of the JTF were responsible for the enforcement of the curfew.
The source in an interview with an online publication cautioned that “it was virtually impossible for gunmen to move from the Camerounian border into Mubi or from Maiduguri (Borno) border into Mubi,without the aid of collaborators within the security. There are checkpoints at every corner, and we conduct house to house search from time to time.”
FedPoly shut, exams suspended
The Federal Polytechnic Mubi, Adamawa State in which scores of students were killed by unidentified gunmen has been closed down and students asked to go home.
Although the school has not issued a formal statement, a source in the school said examination that started yesterday has also been suspended indefinitely.
The source also said thousands of students had fled the school and Mubi town. A fearful student population fled to avoid falling victim of further attacks as their parents kept calling them on phone to return to their home.
At press time, no group has claimed responsibility for the killings.
No cause for alarm —Presidency
Reacting to the dawn attack, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, in an interview with the BBC, yesterday, urged Nigerians not to panic over the activities because the President Goodluck Jonathan administration was doing enough to checkmate terrorism.
He said: “There is nowhere in the history of the world where local insurgency has been brought under much control at the rate at which it has happened in Nigeria. We are dealing with a very serious sect, the Boko Haram sect.”