*Aisha, a 200 level student of the Faculty of Law and a resident of the Zamfara female hostel in Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, still battles with insomnia as the terrible memory of an unknown young boy sneaking into her hostel does not cease from flashing through her mind.
“It was a very bad experience for me. It happened around 12:50 am, I just woke up from sleep when I saw a young man at the window of my room. I felt so shocked that I didn’t know what to do but to scream for help,” Khadijah said with a quivering voice while recollecting how the incident happened.
Popularly called ‘Kato’, these people are thieves who sneak into the Female Hall of Residence in the night to steal their belongings.
Unlike other female hostels, Zamfara hostel is one of the unfenced female hostels located close to the village, it houses 4 blocks comprising over 500 female students and it is one of the female hostels battling with theft from male intruders suspected to be young boys living at the village within the University community.
According to witness accounts, the operation is carried out by two young boys known as ‘Kato’ or Yaro boys. One would climb over another to reach the window level, which is some metres far away from the ground level, to steal students belongings.
After stealing their bags they ransack them, take valuable items, scatter their credentials at the back of the window and run away.
*Aisha further explained that at first, the assailant was not moved when he was caught but when she raised her voice and other hostel members came to her rescue, the assailant took to his heels.
When asked how the assailant was able to steal through the window, she explained that he tore the net that covers her window, slipped through the broken glass, and then dipped his hands through the burglary to ransack their bags.
“I think I caught him very early. After the incident, my roommates and security men went around and we found some of our things scattered at the back of the hostel though the only thing that got missing was my perfume.
“Since that night I don’t sleep comfortably at night, I’m always monitoring the hostel just to see there is no issue, every little noise I hear like this, I wake up immediately,” she added.
Rahmah, a 200 Level student of Mathematics Education, went to class when her bag was stolen from the room. She hung it at the side of her bunk and before she came back, the burglar had pulled it out through the burglary proof bars with the aid of rope and stick.
She recalled that in the middle of the night after the incident, she and her roommates were accompanied by the guard to check the backyard and the assailant left only her bag, lecture notes, and other students’ credentials but ran away with other items inside her bag.
Unlike other victims, *Amina, a 300 level student of Public Administration was lucky to have caught the assailant before stealing her bag. Unfortunately, he had already ransacked the bag of her friend and was on the verge of stealing her bag when she caught him and snatched the bag from him.
“They switched off the generator around 11 pm and everything was dark. I woke up from the bed to unplug my phone when I realized that my bag had been drawn closer to the window. When I wanted to return it to its normal position, it felt heavy like someone was dragging it with me.
“After succeeding in securing the bag from him, I heard the sound of someone jumping down from the window and as I checked through the window, I saw those young boys running away and that’s when I found out they had scattered my colleagues’ credentials around the window after stealing her items, so I woke her up to draw her attention.”
One of the guards who spoke with our reporter anonymously explained that what makes it hard for them to curb the intrusion is the lack of a fence to secure the perimeter of the hostel from burglars like the way it is in other hostels.
“I think the only way to curb this stealing of valuable items through windows is that the hostel should be fenced with a long wall so that nobody would be able to come from outside and steal without being caught,” he said while narrating the incident to our reporter.
Measures That We Have Taken So Far — Management
Confirming the incident, the Chief Security Officer of the university, Col Abdullahi Gwandu explained that the security unit is aware of the incident and they have put in place adequate measures to prevent future occurrences.
While maintaining that the security unit is working round the clock to ensure the security of female students, he bemoaned the careless attitude of students insisting that the security of students’ personal belongings rely on them.
“Students too are not helping the matter. One of them was warned by the hall Governor not to put her belongings close to the window anymore and she said there was nothing inside her bag [and] that she would continue to put it there. The day she put her bag there with something inside was the day her bag was stolen. What kind of carelessness is that? You see that something happened to someone what [are] you supposed to do? You were supposed to put your belongings far away from that window. One of them was even asking me if they don’t put their bag there where will they put it. After all, the security of your personal belongings does not rest on a school, it lies on you.
“Even students find it difficult to protect their doors, their doors will spoil and about 10 of them in the room won’t be able to contribute at most N200 each to repair it. Even, an ordinary net, they find it difficult to contribute money and do it by themselves,” he said.
He explained that the security unit’s assessment of the scene shows that the window is about 2 metres above the ground level that the assailants are usually two and they normally climb one another to reach the widow’s side
He explained that students have been advised to put their bags under the bed or other places far from the window to prevent future occurrences.
When he was asked what the University’s management is doing to curb future occurrences, he said:
“Since that day that the incident occurred, we have assigned two more security men to be staying there all night and that is where they will be until the daybreak and since the time that we have deployed two security men to be guarding the place, we have not received any complaint.”
He added that the vulnerable areas around the hostel have been illuminated and security surveillance cameras have been bought which will be erected at strategic places around the hostel.
“We have visited the place and the window is about 2 metres above the ground level. No one man can get there. They told us that what they saw were two Yaro boys, one will bend and another one will climb him.
“Very soon, it’s going to become a matter of the past. The University management is planning to erect surveillance cameras. Anybody that comes around the place, we will be able to zoom in and see their faces. We know all of them (Yaro boys), we know their fathers, we will invite their fathers and show it to them that this is what your child has come to steal and you have to provide it otherwise you go to jail.”
The names of the victims have been changed to protect them from further victimisation.
Picture 1: Front View of Zamfara Female Hostel, Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto
Picture 2: The newly bought Surveillance Cameras meant to boost the security of the hostel
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