5th October, 2012 will remain unforgettable in the minds of millions of Nigerians. It was a day of conclusion that human life has entirely lost its value in Nigeria. Four young men from the University of Port Harcourt were gruesomely murdered in the Aluu community in the early hours of the day with the incident recorded on video and event sent on the web. The young men aged between 19 and 20 were beaten to pulp and as they struggled to survive, petrol was poured on them and a fire was ignited to roast the boys alive. Their offence? They were alleged to have stolen laptops and mobile phones!
How did we get to this point? Many have asked. Unfortunately, it did not just start. The sanctity of the human life has been thrown away with people becoming more heartless by the day. Over the years, the country has gradually returned to the days of savagery. Crude extra judicial killings are done with impunity by the young and old.
Youth are cut down in their prime and no one is made to answer for such crimes. In 1993, when Lanre Akeredolu, a friend in church gained admission into the Polytechnic, Ibadan, everyone was happy for him. Not long after however, he died as a result of the beating and torture meted out to him by students of the University of Ibadan who wanted to avenge a similar treatment allegedly given to some University of Ibadan Students who were returning from a fieldwork site. In annoyance, students of the Polytechnic swooped on the UI campus attacking students. Not to be outdone, the UI students launched a dawn attack in which the Art Building of the Polytechnic was razed. The building, an architectural beauty was one of the prides of the Polytechnic then. By the time the “Polytes” would mobilize themselves, the UI students were already on their way back. They gave a chase and at the end of the day, “Ultimate Specky” was the casualty. He was a third-year student who fell in the course of retreating from the scene and he was stabbed severally. One of the knives reportedly broke in his stomach and could only be removed when autopsy was to be conducted on him. As a mark of honour, the Students Union Building at the Polytechnic was named after Lanre Akeredolu.
Not so long after, a young man was drowned in the swimming pool in the Students’ Union Building of the University of Ibadan by suspected cultists. Some arrests were made but nothing much was achieved.
The soils of various campuses of educational institutions in Nigeria have been desecrated with the blood of those who should shape the future of the country. Around July, 1997, Sunday Alawiye and another student of the Polytechnic Ibadan were murdered by cultists believed to be members of a rival gang. While Alawiye was shot and killed instantly, “Jiggor” was hacked and left to die. He eventually died having lost so much blood as his assailants had all the time in the world to inflict cuts on him.
The University of Ibadan witnessed bloodshed again in 1998 when the Eiye and Black Axe Confraternities clashed. Not less than 6 students died in the cult war. One of the victims was hacked to death in the most popular restaurant on campus then. It happened in the full glare of customers as everyone scampered for safety abandoning their foods and drinks.
In 1998, there were series of killings in the University of Lagos, including drive by shootings. In the last week of July, tall and handsome Akinwunmi, a student in his third year who had apparently been placed under watch by cultists was followed as he was going to write an exam. Seeing that he was being followed, he took to his heels. He was given a hot chase and was eventually caught in the class he ran to for safety. He was dragged out of the class in broad daylight, he sweated profusely as he begged for his life. His merciless pursuers made jokes as they dragged him to the entrance of the class. Those who could bear to watch from a distance knew all hope was lost as one of the young men who came in a Peugeot 505 leveled a handgun at Akin’s head and pulled the trigger.
Around that time too, in the Lagos State University, Ojo, the commonest thing on campus was a notice with the inscription “LASU is not an abattoir”. It was duplicated in almost every corner of the school. It became necessary as gang members unleashed terror on staff and students alike.
It was the turn of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife on Saturday, July 10, 1999. While the famous Keggites Club was holding its “World Gyration”, (OAU being the Club’s World Headquarters), about 40 young men, suspected to be members of the Black Axe confraternity wearing t-shirts on black jeans marched into the Obafemi Awolowo Hall. George Akinyemi Iwilade, the Secretary-General of the University’s Students’ Union was one of the victims. After shooting him in the head as he laid on his bed, his head was smashed with an axe carried by one of his murderers. Eviano Ekelemu, Tunde Oke and five others were also brutally murdered by the gun-toting criminals.
The killing spree also moved on to Offa, Kwara State where many students of the Federal Polytechnic were lost to senseless clashes most of which bordered on ego. After some time, Federal Poly Offa students got involved in a clash with members of the host communities with dangerous weapons including guns being used. A number of students were shot and some simply went “missing”. There were calls that the institution should be relocated to ensure safety of lives and property.
University of Ilorin too witnessed series of rival gang clashes. Tales of violence were heard from Post office to Sango and other parts of town. Some cultists were traced to the homes of their parents as far as Lagos!
The Yaba College of Technology was particularly notorious. At a point in time, dead bodies were recovered almost every fortnight. It was a similar story in the then Ogun State University (Now Olabisi Onabanjo University), Ogun State Polytechnic (now Moshood Abiola Polytechnic) where students with funny nicknames were lords unto other students on campus.
The University of Benin, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma and institutions in that region too had their share of the bloodshed. In the University of Calabar, University of Port Harcourt and and other places in the South South, Black Axe and Vikings confraternities held sway. Their clashes were often extremely bloody and families were thrown into mourning as a result.
A secondary school mate was lost to the cult madness in 2001. He had gone to defend his final year project in the University of Calabar with the hope of graduating as a Geologist. He tried to run for his life but he was eventually caught. While he was being prepared for burial, 75 machete cuts were counted around his head while his eyes were reportedly gouged out before he was eventually shot.
The Polytechnic Ibadan, Eruwa campus too was not left out. A student who had gone to visit a friend all the way from Ife was hacked down. About 20 suspected cultists were apprehended with dangerous weapons in their possession and handed over to the police. None was convicted.
Again around 2002, a group was seen entering the main campus of The Polytechnic Ibadan. One of them carried a big axe and they were not discreet about their arrival. Shouts of “Ayeeee Axe Men!” from the group sent students scampering for safety. The group eventually met one of their targets, nicknamed after a tee and reputed to be the head of another cult group on campus. Reports had it that when gunshots meant to kill him had no effect, a bottle was sought and after a few stabs, blood gushed out and he was slaughtered immediately.
In 2008, hours after the matriculation ceremony of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), there was a clash between the Vikings and Balck Axe groups. Gunshots boomed in Aluu village, close to the school and at the end of hostilities, four students were confirmed dead.
Fast forward to September, 2012, two cultists were nabbed in the University of Jos. They had gone to attack a certain student and in the process shot the wrong person. The cultists were given instant judgment. One was killed by a mob while the other was luckier as the police arrived before he was lynched. And four days before the Aluu killings, 40 students were killed in Mubi, Adamawa State. It was obvious the killers had plenty of time as they had a roll call of the people they wanted and they reportedly called them out one after the other. Incidentally, the Boko Haram sect who had hitherto been the prime suspect in the matter has denied being the perpetrators.
While we condemn and decry the Aluu killing, Nigerians need to be reminded that there is an “Aluu” element in all of us. Though in the Aluu video, one man was apparently the most active as he continually smashed skulls and put tyres around the necks of the victims before they were set on fire, legs of others, including women could be seen and shouts of “die, die” could be heard. An indication that the killers enjoyed full cooperation of the community.
Long before now, traces of Aluu have been evident in every sphere of the Nigerian system, people commit atrocities without thinking of their effects on the next person, a contractor who gets a major road contract and fails to execute the contract with resultant effect in traffic accidents and loss of lives has elements of “Aluu” in him.
The system that ensures that offenders do not get punished for their crimes also has traces of Aluu.
Members of the political class who embezzle public funds with impunity cannot also be absolved of the Aluu sickness. It may therefore be safe to conclude that almost every Nigerian has traces of Aluu.
- Akanni Giwa