My inquisitive into the recent happenings in Aluu of 4 UNIPORT students that was lynched made me stumbled on the below account of a retiree of the university, thanks to olufamous for the report:
As the police continue with their investigations into the circumstance surrounding last week’s killing of four students of the University of Port Harcourt, Chukwudi Akasike reports that those behind the act will suffer the burden of guilt for a long time.
Rivers, a state that prides itself as the Treasure Base of the nation, has been battling flood disasters in three local government areas before it received with shock the news of the grisly murder of the four young students by a lynch mob.
The people of Omuokiri Aluu in Ikwerre Local Government Area, one of the host communities of the tertiary institution, have been on the defensive since then about the circumstances that led to the lynching of the undergraduates.
The four students – Chidiaka Biringa, Kelechi Ugonna, Lloyd Toku and Tekena Erikena – were branded thieves, brutalised and set ablaze by some members of the community for allegedly stealing a laptop computer and a BlackBerry phone.
The incident, which occurred on October 5, 2012, has attracted condemnation from the international community. Not a few believe that the jungle justice meted to the UNIPORT Four gave out those behind the act as uncivilised, barbaric, cruel, inconsiderate and heartless.
Though many stories have been peddled about the circumstances that led to the killing of the students, the one that appears to be logical was that the students were forcibly held by some indigenes of Omuokiri Aluu community, after a student purportedly owing one of the slain students raised a false alarm that sent community members coming for their jugular.
For over two hours, the lynch mob stripped the students and beat them with cudgels, while a huge crowd urged them on. The gory episode went on even as one bloodthirsty man was seen in a video tape taking it upon himself to hit the obviously defenceless and almost motionless undergraduates until they began to gasp for breath.
Not satisfied, the man gave the students the final blows before mobilising his fellow executioners to set them ablaze.
Surprisingly, a group of policemen that came from Isiokpo could not save the situation. By the time operatives of the Joint Task Force and some parents of the students came to the scene of what many termed a disgraceful act by a community, three of the undergraduates had died. The remaining one that was gasping for breath died before the JTF could get him to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital.
Satisfied that the students were dead, people of Omuokiri Aluu community went about their normal business, giving the impression that they did nothing wrong. But last Sunday, the State Police Command swung into action and arrested 13, including a community leader, who allegedly endorsed the killing of the four students.
It was at that point that the people of Aluu realised that they goofed by lynching the UNIPORT Four. Since the arrest, community members have been leaving their houses in droves in order to avoid being arrested by the police.
Again, the rumour of a possible reprisal by UNIPORT students to avenge the slaying of their colleagues, sent shivers down the spines of the hitherto fearless people. Ultimately, Omuokiri Aluu was deserted by its inhabitants, whose burden of guilt was not difficult to notice. The saying that a clear conscience fears no accusation came to the fore. In this situation, the conscience was not clear and there was no need to be stubborn about leaving the area to avoid being arrested.
But those who agreed to stay got a large dose of UNIPORT students’ anger. The students, who were mobilised by the National Association of Nigerian Students, blocked the busy East-West Road for many hours on Tuesday. They later stormed the community to vent their spleen on the people of Omuokiri Aluu. Houses, cars and other valuables were set ablaze within 30 minutes of the raid in the area, which is 3km from the institution.
Sensing that they were now on the defensive, the inhabitants of the area insisted that they were not involved in the killing of the undergraduates. Not even one of them (Omuokiri Aluu people) could point at one man or woman that was among the killers of the slain students. But those whose properties were damaged lamented their loss and sought government assistance to restore whatever amount their burnt property would cost.
When Saturday PUNCH visited the area, some indigenes of the community were seen in a pensive mood over the loss of their valuables. One of the leaders of the community, Elder Sunday Ahanonu, said that he lost all he laboured for to the reprisals by students of the university. Elder Ahanonu, whose house was torched by students on Tuesday, expressed shock that security agents could not stop the rampaging students from their destructive mission.
Explaining that he worked with UNIPORT for 35 years before retiring, Elder Ahanonu said he had lost everything he achieved in the past to the rage of the students he served. He appealed to the state government and the management of the university to compensate him for the destruction of his property, adding that he and members of his family were not involved in the killing of the four UNIPORT students.
Though, the university has been shut down indefinitely to prevent any further ugly incident, it is the prayer of every discerning mind, especially the grieving parents of the deceased, that those responsible for the killing of the young undergraduates are brought to book.