By Anayo Okoli
ABIA State University, ABSU, Uturu is located in serene hilly in Uturu community. The community hosts another private University, Greg University and a famous Catholic primary and secondary schools, Maris Schools. It therefore can rightly be described as an academic community.
The community has been quiet and peaceful until last week when there was a horrible development there. Two 300 level students of ABSU were gruesomely beheaded by a cult group.
Another 300 level student was also badly butchered by the same group and he is critically lying ill in a hospital.
The dastardly act took place in a private hostel located in an isolated area of the community and surrounded by forest and valley, about 3 kilometres from the University campus. The assailants said to be members of Bourkina Faso cult group, scaled the high fence of the hostel with a ladder to gain access into the room of the victims, said to be members of another cult group, Mafia.
The victims, Nwigbo Chukwuebuka, a 300 hundred level student of Estate Management and Samuel Ethelbert, a third year student of Political Science were slaughtered and beheaded Saturday night in their hostel. Umeaforo Chigozirim, also a 300 level Political Science undergraduate was luckier as he was not killed but sustained serious injuries resulting from machete cuts.
The gruesome killing was said to be a revenge act the Bourkina Faso group for the death of their leader, called Collins Agwu, alias Biggy, said to have been killed by the Mafia group, who was said to have been buried on the Saturday the two students were beheaded.
This ugly incident threw the University into mourning and great shock. Though cult activities have existed in the University over the years but last week’s gruesome beheading of the two students was outrageous and unprecedented.
Though the incident did not disturb academic activities of the university as the students went on to write their first semester examination, nevertheless many of the students, especially those in year one have been enveloped in fear after the horrifying incident.
For the vice chancellor of the University, Prof. Uche Ikonne, who is just about four months old as the head of the institution, the incident was “a despicable act” but assured students of the university to remain calm and face their academic activities, saying that the university has stepped up its security in collaboration with security agency.
Ikonne who lamented that the university has enough hostel accommodation within the campus, some of which are unoccupied blamed the craze to live in private hostels outside the campus to the quest for some student to have absolute freedom.
The vice chancellor also advised parents and guardians to take ownership of their children and wards by making out time to know where they stay in school. According to him, the university charges only N30000 for accommodation while some students collects as much as N150000 from their parents to pay for accommodation in these private hostels.
And as part of the new measures to curb the activities of cult groups in the university, Prof. Ikonne held a meeting with members of Uturu Traditional Rulers Council, all landlords of buildings in and around Uturu as well as chairman and secretary of Uturu Youths to fashion out mode of admitting tenants into houses in the community.
Meanwhile, Abia State Governor and Visitor to the University, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu expressed shock over the gruesome killing of the students, and directed the University management that henceforth all proprietors of student commercial hostels must take responsibility for the activities that take place in their facilities.
The Governor said that they would be required to take interest in the identity, background and profile of the students living in their hostels, and directed that the proprietors must conduct regular identity audit of the persons living in their hostels so as to be able to ascertain the credibility of the persons in their custody.
The Governor warned them that student hostels will no more be operated as a mere business venture available to whoever that can afford to pay.