From Clement Adeyi, Osogbo
When former governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola established the Osun State University (UNIOSUN), Osogbo, in 2006, it was joy galore for the people, particularly the youth.
They heaved a sigh of relief that 15 years after its creation by the late General Sani Abacha’s administration, it could boast of its own university. It was the 30th state university then.
They also savoured the social-economic development that would spring up in the state, especially at the Oke Baale area where the university is domiciled. So, it was a thing of joy that a university had birthed in their domain.
But they never knew that the joy would turn to sorrow someday when students would become sacrificial lambs for rituals. In recent times, students of the university have become easy preys in the hands of ritualists. They cut them off in their prime and sent them to early graves.
This byzantine cruelty by the men from hell has brought anguish to the families of the victims, the people of the state and sympathizers. For some years back, some students had been kidnapped and brutally murdered by ritualists who are desperate for human body parts for money voodoo.
Investigations by Daily Sun indicated that some ritualists and their accomplices in Osogbo and neighbouring communities are always optimistic that UNIOSUN students are readily available materials for money rituals and other fetish tendencies. Often times, clerics commonly referred to as Alfa are fingered in the acts. Reports have it that they collaborate with herbalists who are ready to assist illicit individuals bent on cutting corners to become rich overnight.
Cases of UNIOSUN students falling victims of this uncomely diabolical activity are rampant. In November 2016, a 400 level female student of the institution, Rofiat Adebisi, was declared missing by her friends, after attending a religious programme at Ikoyi town, off Ibadan-Ife Expressway, Osun State.
A few days after, her corpse was discovered in Iragbiji, Boripe Local Government Area after a frantic search by friends and family members. After a series of investigations by the police, they apprehended Rofiat’s killers and arraigned them at the Magistrate Court, Osogbo.
The suspects identified, as Elijah and Yusuf were later remanded at Ilesa Prisons. Elijah, a commercial driver, confessed he hypnotised the deceased who boarded his vehicle from Ipetu-Ijesa to Osogbo.
He subsequently delivered her to a herbalist, one Jelili who paid him N10,000 for the job. He admitted the herbalist gave him a charm and asked him to bring any young lady who had not given birth to a child. The second accused, Yusuf, allegedly received one Apple Iphone 5 valued at N100,000 stolen from the deceased after she was killed.
In a similarly circumstance, four students of the university were declared missing last year and yet to be found. The Commissioner of Police, Fimihan Adeoye, said investigations were still ongoing to find the missing undergraduates.
In January 2017, another student died mysteriously in a private hospital, which was almost razed down by angry students.
In the same month, two students, Abiola Kazeem and Ibrahim were shot by some policemen, an action that led to another wild protest by the students which threw Osogbo into a serious commotion.
Another alarming and mind-boggling ritual activity was the recent gruesome murder of another student, Oluwafemi Shonibare. He was declared missing on June 26, 2017, by his colleagues. A few days later, his decomposing body was discovered in a bush in Oke Baale, close to the university campus. His body was found near the residence of an Islamic cleric identified as Sakariyau, whose accomplices allegedly included Ibrahim and Yusuf.
His suspected killers who reside in Olorunkemi Street, near Oke Baale in Idiroko Meta, confessed to the police that they used pestle mortar to smash Shonibare’s head an later dismembered him. They admitted that they later roasted his head and palms and kept them inside a black clay pot found in a mosque. Piqued by the dastardly act, the rampaging students stormed the mosque and the building where Shonibare’s body was found and razed them down.
The following day, they staged a violent protest in Osogbo and held the city to ransom for hours to register their grievances. Some residents of the community claimed that they didn’t know that ritualists lived among them.
Why did the students fall easy preys to danger? Non-residential arrangement on campus occasioned by absence of hotel accommodation by the university was identified as the major factor. Consequently, students live off campus. Many of them live in private hostels around the university environment, which have become the targets of attackers due to porous security.
The Vice Chancellor, Professor Olabode Lapade, however, disagreed. He told Daily Sun that kidnapping and ritual killings were social and criminal issues not peculiar to UNIOSUN:
“What about people being attacked by robbers, kidnappers and ritualists right in their homes? What about people being attacked in their homes by Badoo in Ikorodu, Lagos? What about students kidnapped from their hostels in Lagos and other places?
“Kidnapping and ritual killings are going on in different parts of this country on daily basis. I don’t think the problem is due to lack of hostel accommodation at UNIOSUN. It is a social problem in Nigeria, which must be addressed together.
“Yes, there is no hostel accommodation in UNIOSUN. But that is the way the university was designed. I don’t like it because I enjoyed hostel accommodation throughout my university days. We are already working on it. Though it is good, it won’t solve the problem.
“Ritual killings and kidnapping is a general problem that must be addressed in every part of this country, including all schools and not only UNIOSUN.”
Shonibare’s gruesome murder elicited a lot of anguish and comments from different circles. A resident, Segun Omoyele said: “I never expected that such a wicked thing could happen in our community. We are surprised and we want the government to provide us with more security in this place.”
Baale of Idiroko Meta, Chief Adedokun Muritala said: “We have reported this issue to the police and the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun. We are collaborating with the police to beef up security in our community. We want the government to give us a police post in our community. This will go a long way in preventing crime and creating fear in the minds of hoodlums and ritualists who may want to kidnap and kill innocent students, whose population is very high here. This will also give the people of our community the peace of mind and guarantee that there is adequate security in this area.”
Meanwhile, the trio of Sakariyau Abdulrofiu, Ibrahim Ayuba and Yusuf Aliu the suspected killers of Shonibare, were arraigned at the Magistrate Court, Osogbo, and remanded in prison pending when their case would come up for mention.