How LASU Groans Under Guns:Cultism Versus Exams
Nigerian News -Three weeks after Damilola Ibrahim Olaniyan, a 400-Level student of Lagos State University was murdered by cult members; an atmosphere of fear seems to continuously envelope the campus. SEUN AKIOYE reports.
Students of the Lagos State University, Ojo, are still living in the fear of the unknown following the gruesome murder of a 400-Level student of the Department of Banking and Finance, Damilola Olaniyan, also known as Damoche. Olaniyan, who was an aspiring musician, was murdered outside the school gates three weeks ago. This dastardly act was quickly followed by a series of reprisal killings by rival cult members. Subsequently, several suspected cultists were arrested by the police, an action that led to a mass exodus of students from the institution.In the midst of this fear, however, students are now quietly writing their examinations under heavy security. When LEADERSHIP WEEKEND visited the school, the whole environment seemed to be under siege as heavily armed mobile policemen mounted security at all the entrances to the institution and other strategic locations. An Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) was also stationed very close to the Faculty of Law.
The paramilitary unit of the university, known as LASU Marshal Corps, was not left out of the task to ensure adequate security for students. The corps are now armed with guns and cans of teargas.
Reacting to the heavy presence of security men, a 200-Level student of the school, Aminat Okunuga said, â€œThis is wrong. You need to see how they (police) intimidate and harass us. They are there; and as you match into the halls they point their guns at your face. In fact, everything you have crammed would just disappear when you have to write exams under the threat of guns.â€
Another student, Semiat Adedokun added, â€œThis is just scary. If the police see you in group they shout. Yesterday in the faculty of education, they took away all the bags of students who were writing exams. And after harassing us they would go into their vehicles to listen to hip hop music.â€
It is on record that much as the school authorities tried to flush out bad eggs among students, the Lagos State University is still notorious for secret cult activities. Unlike other universities that witness a proliferation of cult groups, investigation reveals that LASU has three main groups, namely, Eiye Confraternity, Buccaneers and the Black Axe; the latter is said to be the most vicious and deadliest. Also, a lot of people are of the opinion that the absence of residential hostels inside the school is not helping matters. This is so because, since all the students stay off campus, it is easier for members of these cult groups to hold secret meeting away from the prying eyes of the institutionâ€™s security agencies.
LEADERSHIP WEEKENDâ€™s investigation also reveals that the cult war that claimed Damocheâ€™s life was allegedly between the Buccaneers and the Eiye confraternity. According to one of the security officials who spoke under a strict condition of anonymity, Damoche might have lost his life to a reprisal attack.
â€œThe late student was not as innocent as people think; he also belonged to a cult group. Cult members will never kill anyone who has nothing to do with them. Most times, when they kill, it is a fight among them,â€ he said.
Again, according to a reliable source in the institution, Damocheâ€™s death led to other attacks. For example, three days after the killing, another student identified as Kabiru Atoyebi was shot dead. The death of Atoyebi was followed by at least four other deaths. But the police could only confirm one reprisal killing. And swinging into action, the police arrested over 35 students in Beno Hotel in Okokomaiko. It was a major breakthrough as the man who pulled the trigger on Damoche was said to have been one of them.
Speaking to our correspondent, the police public relations officer, Lagos State command, Deputy Superintendent Ngozi Braide said: â€œWe are screening the suspects, with a view to ascertaining their involvement in the killing of the student-musician. Anyone found to be involved will be prosecuted in court.â€
In reaction to the ugly incident, the Lagos State House of Assembly raised a motion of Urgent Public Importance. Honourable Sani Agunbiade called the attention of his colleagues to the escalating violence in the school, and warned that if not urgently addressed, the situation would have dire consequences on the students, parents and the entire Lagos State.
While some lawmakers suggested that the school be shut down to prevent the violence from spreading to the streets, others disagreed, saying that such action would be counterproductive. Speaker of the House, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, however, called on the Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fasola to beef up security in and around the institution in order to halt further killings.
â€œI thought we had seen the end of cultism in our school. This resurgence should not be allowed to stay. The governor should immediately fortify security in that school so that it will not return to its old days,â€ Ikuforiji said.
Investigation also revealed that a lot of innocent people are paying for the crime they did not know anything about as the police arrested any passer-by student in the streets without question. According to our source, most of the boys the police arrested were just local boys who had no business with the institution. Responding to this allegation, the police said it would interrogate those arrested and subsequently release innocent ones.
Officials of the institution declined to speak on the incident. When LEADERSHIP WEEKEND sought audience with the vice chancellor of the university, Professor Oladapo Obafunwa, he said the matter was under police investigation, and would therefore not speak on it.
â€œI am very sorry; I canâ€™t get into police investigation. I am not a rude person but since the police are investigating, I cannot talk to you. I am very sorry,â€ he said.
But the school registrar, Tunde Animashahun was more forthcoming. He said, â€œDo you know the students started examinations since Monday? That should answer your question. Everything is well.â€
Also speaking, some of the security personnel said they were able to instill calmness on the campus. â€œWe have not had problems with the students, we are on top of the situation, there is no trouble and the students are going about their normal duties,â€ they said.
One of the lecturers who spoke to LEADERSHIP WEEKEND said there was the need to do everything possible to stop cultism in the school. He frowned at the accusation that some lecturers are involved in cult activities, saying, â€œThere are accusations that some lecturers are involved in cult activities. The school must fish them out. There must not be any form of protection for such people. Cultism does not do anyone any good.â€