By Kassim Afegbua
In the last two weeks, it has been a harvest of killings in some Nigerian higher institutions; first in the University of Maiduguri on September 29, followed by Federal Polytechnic, Mubi and lastly University of Port Harcourt. All the scenarios surrounding the killings are gruesomely disturbing.
While those of Mubi and Port Harcourt have been receiving media and security attention; that of the University of Maiduguri seems to have passed unnoticed and almost unreported. Three bona fide Nigerian citizens were involved in that of Maiduguri namely; Abdulmalik Ahmed, a 400 level student of Mechanical Engineering, Halima Damchida, a 500 level student of Law, and one other young man simply identified as Yakubu also of the University.
Halima, according to close family sources, is the only child of her mother, while Abdulmalik Ahmed Hassan is the elder of two sons of Master Warrant Officer Hassan Ahmed Isah of the Nigeria Army Archives, Ikeja Lagos. The circumstances of their death are still subject to further investigation but unofficial preliminary information said the bodies of the threesome were mutilated in very despicable manner in their homes right in front of the University of Maiduguri.
According to reports, they have since been buried according to Islamic rites. If the deaths were painful, what is more painful and heart burning is the nonchalant attitude of the authorities of the University of Maiduguri who up till this time of writing this column, have not deemed it proper to place a call to the parents of the slaughtered students. As if that was not enough, the Police also have not contacted the parents of the students as at the time of writing this piece.
One thing I find curious is the apparent media hype given to the Port Harcourt killings to the extent that the Inspector General of Police promised to get to the root of the matter while the Senate did deliberate on the matter on Tuesday 9, October.
There was some kind of conspiratorial silence on the Maiduguri pogrom; or could it be as a result of the fact that Maiduguri is now a blood-letting field? What would have warranted this unusual silence? Three promising students mauled down just like that and not a single mention or expression of concern by both authorities of Police and the University? If I have my way, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri Professor Mala Mohammed Daura should have been fired by now.
He has not shown any cause of competence to manage students who are put under his care. He has shown careless disdain on this matter by ignoring the parents and not extending any condolences to mournful parents who have lost their dear children. Since Maiduguri has been under the pummeling of Boko Haram, any act of killings and violence is often credited to the dreaded group. But that is a wrong security approach and reading.
Speaking with Master Warrant Officer Hassan Isah and his wife, Nefisat at their home in Abuja, with scores of sympathizers coming to pay condolence visits, they expressed utter dismay that they have not heard a word from the University authorities as to the immediate and remote cause[s] of their son’s gruesome murder.
Expressing shock at the lackadaisical attitude of the Police and the University, MWO Hassan Isah quipped; “can you see why it is difficult to show absolute loyalty to one’s country? How can Abdulmalik, a 20-year old, be murdered in cold blood and the relevant authorities have not deemed it necessary to call us? I am a military officer; hence I will not want to talk further on this issue. I have instructed my Lawyers to take appropriate steps to seek legal redress”.
Lamenting the pains which the killings have brought to the three families, Hajia Nefisat Hassan recalled the very warm and affectionate relationship between the two families of Halima Damchida and their Abdulmalik Ahmed. According to
her, “no amount of wailings and tears could bring back our children but we deserve some measure of respect from the University authority.
If the Police cannot do their job to bring the culprits to book, we at least deserve to hear a word or two from them”, she lamented. Speaking further, she said; “no one is willing to talk to us. What is the matter after all? You mean they just killed our children like chickens and we do not deserve to know the circumstances? She broke down in tears while praying that her son’s soul will find a pleasant rest in the hereafter. Hajia Nefisat Hassan works in the Presidency. Despite the fact that killings have become second nature in Maiduguri and its environs, not all killings are carried out by Boko Haram.
At least in some instances, the members of Boko Haram do come out to dissociate the group from killings that are not connected to them. Even if this particular act was committed by Boko Haram, the University authority owes it a duty to reach out to the parents of the students while expressing condolences to same. This graveyard silence over an act as deadly and dastardly as the one under reference means that perhaps the University authority is hiding something.
It should be able to use its own internal security to find out the circumstances surrounding the killings while the security authorities would dig deeper to unravel the entire gamut of the incident. Anything short of this approach would convey a different meaning to the mourning parents who will forever live with nostalgia over their lost children.
I do not think it is appropriate to add to their sorrow and grief. The Police must jump to action. The University authority must retrace its dithering step. It has acted in bad faith, no doubt. As for Abdulmalik, Halima and Yakubu, sleep well. Rest in Peace.