The beheading of ABSU studentsEVEN in a movie, it would have been absurd to see a Nigerian university student plunging a dagger into the throat of a fellow student and slaughtering him like an animal. But, this bestial spectacle played out recently at an off-campus residence of some students of Abia State University, Uturu, Okigwe, Abia State, where two students were beheaded.
The dumbfounding incident is one dark step to barbarism. It is a retreat from civilization that must be strongly condemned by all Nigerians, and its perpetrators swiftly brought to justice.
The reports on this sordid incident indicate that it followed a violent clash between two rival cult groups identified as “the Mafia” and “Burkina Faso”. During the clash, a member of the Mafia cult, Collins Agwu, alias “Biggy”, a final year Microbiology student, died. After his burial, the Mafia cultists went into an orgy of violence to avenge his death.
Brutally beheaded in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were Chukwuebuka Nwaigbo, a 300 level student of Estate Management and Samuel Nwokolo, also a 300 level Political Science student. Both were slaughtered in their hostel at the Chidoo Lodge, an off-campus residence for ABSU students.
The rival Burkina Faso cult is said to have now vowed vengeance with a target set for 21 beheadings. The Vice Chancellor of ABSU, Prof. Eleazar Uchenna Ikonne, was reported to have visited the scene and “urged the warring groups to desist from cultism.”
The public display of animalistic tendencies in these killings is shameful, to say the least, and the nation’s security agencies should spare no effort to bring those behind it to justice.
The threat by one of the cult groups to behead a total of 21 students is reportedly generating fear and tension in the school. This is a very unhealthy development in an academic environment and the relevant authorities must do all that is necessary to secure the students as well as build confidence in their security arrangements.
A terrorized campus contradicts everything a university should stand for. So, the university and its security managers must go beyond the condemnation of the gory incident and their appeals to the students to desist from cultism, to apprehending those responsible for the murders and ensuring their prosecution.
The universal rationale for university education has been stood on its head in this case. Undergraduates, it is now clear, do not know and perhaps do not wish to know what education is really about. For education is an effort toward civilizing the mind, to move the inclination of humanity from violence to discussion. Education teaches the futility of violence and the utility of tolerance. Education demonstrates why it is more useful to jaw-jaw than to war-war, as the saying goes. Education is meant to groom students and give them character to enable them transcend the trials of human existence. From education, we learn why we need to respect other people, their cultures and traditions, their rights and privileges, their opinions and their religions. Now, the butchers at ABSU have taken Nigeria down many notches to uncivilized times. We must not trivialize these beheadings and their threat to kill more students.
We understand that the Abia State government has set up a committee to look into last week’s atrocities. We urge the committee to do a thorough job and come up with recommendations that can halt cultism in the institution. A university in the stranglehold of cultists and other murderous gangs can never have a positive influence on the society.
The university is apparently on the wrong track and it must be brought back to order. Indeed, the Abia State Government, if it must be taken seriously in this matter, should immediately overhaul the administrative and security set-up of the school to restore the students’ confidence in the institution.
It appears that the failure to take strong actions against university cults has ensured their multiplication and growing impunity. The tales of horror on university campuses are becoming rife.
The growing violence in some of these institutions is symptomatic of societal failure. The Abia State government should rise to this occasion and ensure that the killers at ABSU are apprehended, tried according to laws of the land and punished. But, until the Federal Government puts down its foot and ensures zero tolerance for cultism on our campuses, the butcher-student cultists at ABSU and other affected Nigerian universities will continue to give their institutions and the whole country a bad image.