“On Sunday, 7th November 2021, I retired to bed for another peaceful night rest. Already exhausted from the day’s activities, I slept early in preparation for school the following morning. Little did I know I was about to experience a terrible night!” Precious, an occupant of Dermagreen Hostel, located opposite Ekiti State University’s main gate, narrates in a rather anguished voice how she and over 60 residents of the hostel fell victims and lost their properties during an attack by hardened criminals.
“At about 1 am, I woke up to nature’s call as I felt the urge to urinate, that was when it all began. On my way to the toilet I noticed strange movements outside my room, then peeped and saw three armed guys loitering in the compound. Unfortunately, they saw me.
“Panicked, I ran into the toilet as they approached my window, broke the glass and attempted to remove the burglar-proof. Already numb, I waited for the worst to happen.
“They came to the bathroom window and instructed me to open my door, then found their way in. I was hit and asked to open the main gate but told them I didn’t have the key and was forced to lead them to the hostel chairman’s room from whom they got the key and opened the gate for the remaining four who had been waiting outside.
“During the raid, they broke windows, doors and anything that hindered their mission. All occupants were forced out of their rooms, some flogged at sight. 56 of the 66 rooms in the hostel were successfully robbed within two hours.
“The criminals carted away over 30 phones, 6 laptops, N48,000 cash and other valuable items. We didn’t know who to call as no one had the number of the police. While attempting to put a call through for help, one of the occupants was dragged and beaten up. Eventually, we got the number of the Iworoko Division Police Officer DPO, but it was already late, the robbers had left on their arrival,” Precious recounted.
According to Statista, armed robbery is a crime perceived as the most worrying in Nigeria with over 122,000 crimes against persons and properties in a year. This is the plight in student-residential areas of Ekiti State University, especially in hostels situated in isolated areas. They are robbed of their belongings, leaving them with no option but to seek refuge in their friends’ place, fearing another attack.
A large number of hostels in the school community are insecure, with no security personnel to come to their rescue in times of emergency.
In an interview with the landlord of Dermagreen Hostel, he explained why there was no security agent in the hostel at the time of the attack.
“I employed a security person but he wasn’t around on the night of the robbery. I’m going to employ more security personnel to guard the hostel and make sure they are diligent enough to prevent this ugly incidence from repeating itself,” said the Landlord.
Raphael, the security guard who left his duty post on the night of the attack had this to say;
”I slept in Iworoko that day as I usually do at times for personal reasons.”
While speaking to the Chief Security Officer of Ekiti State University, Rt. Captain Augustine Ajayi, about the school’s stance on the situation, he said:
“We are not happy with the situation. Unfortunately, these hostels are privately owned and they are not on university grounds, it is the responsibility of the service providers, but we will not leave our students at the mercy of criminals and the only way to respond is through the police, especially in the hours of darkness. I have contacted the chairman of the Iworoko Security Committee, we pay the vigilante under them a token every month and have also given them a motorcycle on behalf of the students so that we can rely on them to extend their patrol to the student areas. If it becomes too embarrassing, I will approach the school management with the Student Union president to fund us so that we can employ the service of the Rapid Response Squad. Again, students are not being helpful as most of them do not like to speak up, they need to be bold so that we can help them.”
The DPO of Iworoko Police Station, DSP. Falowo Bankole said this about the incidence:
“When I got the distress call, it was a few minutes to three and I called the patrol immediately to go to the scene. Unfortunately, the car developed a fault so they had to use a private car and I immediately put a call through to the RRS. By the time both teams got there, the robbers already left. I think the problem here is that most people do not even know who to call when cases like this happen, but we are working on retrieving the lost items and all the perpetrators will be brought to book. I have also instructed my team to pay attention to hostels in isolated areas and always extend their patrol to those areas.”
Recently, cases of robbery have occurred in different student-residential areas of Ekiti State University, but the attack on Dermagreen Hostel appears to be the biggest of them all; an operation that took place for over 2 hours.
A day after this attack, another one almost occurred at Unquestionable God Hostel which happens to be situated beside Dermagreen Hostel. Fortunately, the police got there early but the robbers escaped.
However, students lives and properties are in danger, and occupants of these hostels have been subjected to fear, insecurity, and paranoia as a result of such traumatic experiences.
Dr C.K Arowosegbe, of the Department of Psychology and Behavioural Studies, linked the recurrent robberies to godfatherism in the justice system, as thieves caught are not usually dealt with accordingly.
“The issue of robbery is a major problem we are having both inside and outside the school community. Car theft has become very common in the school, and the solution that can be proffered to the issue of insecurity on campus is the employment of more security personnel, as over 100 security officers were disengaged in 2019. The security department is understaffed, and trained security personnel should be recruited, not just gatemen. They should undergo a strict and rigorous training before they are employed.
“Generally, I think another solution to this issue is professional discipline from the side of the police. Whenever a robber is caught, they should face the music and should not be allowed to roam the streets free, as we all know that when these robbers are caught, the godfathers will always pull strings for their release. This should not be the case! If they face the music, their counterparts will not want their fate to be the same. By so doing, the robbery will reduce if not be eradicated,” she said.
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