Some days ago came the news that some female students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Unizik, were raped by a group of hoodlums in their off campus hostels at Ifite, Awka. One of them, according to many newspaper and social media reports, was a virgin, who, traumatized by her experience, contemplated suicide. The reports also said many students were robbed of their possessions, including money and mobile phones, in an operation that lasted for many hours.
This latest robbery incident was one among several others that had taken place there in the past, including the shooting and killing of vigilante operatives. But what is worrisome is that despite all this, crime in that axis has continued to soar.
Now, every parent who sends their children or wards to school wants the best for them, including their protection. But in the Unizik axis of Ifite Awka, the students have become cannon fodder for criminals to the extent that those living there are merely hoping on God’s protection as the state has failed them.
It is really inconceivable that after years of criminality in that area, a solution is yet to be found. That criminals could operate from hostel to hostel for many hours without being apprehended, is indeed, a matter of grave concern. There is nowhere in the civilized world that criminals can operate for up to thirty minutes without security operatives arriving to confront them. But here, criminals can operate for hours unchallenged. This is not acceptable, to say the least.
Following the latest incident, we heard that the Unizik authorities held a meeting with the students’ union leaders and security agencies with a view to finding a permanent solution to the menace of criminals there. It is a welcome development in our view but we hope it will not be one of those meetings that eventually yield no fruit.
However, we have identified the major cause of the students’ vulnerability to attacks by criminals there and that is lack of enough hostels within the campus of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. Because the hostels are not enough, many students are forced to live outside the campus where their safety is not guaranteed.
We therefore suggest that the school authorities should embark on the building of more hostels within the campus, while encouraging private individuals to build theirs too, still within the campus.
With enough hostels available to students within the campus, we believe that students will be adequately protected from the hoodlums. Those who choose to still live outside the campus after that will therefore have only themselves to blame.
But despite that, the state government and security agencies should ensure adequate security for those living and doing business in that Ifite Axis as they are also part of the responsibility of the state government. There is no reason why a place as notorious as Ifite in Awka should be left unattended to.
Landlords in that area should also be mindful of those they rent accommodation to and ascertain their background. Police checkpoints should equally be mounted at strategic places there to make it difficult for criminals to operate.
It has become very embarrassing that a place like Ifite Awka has been overrun by hoodlums for this long. We are looking forward to a permanent solution to the menace of hoodlums in that axis and that should happen as quickly as possible.