We’re studying in fear at UNIJOS, Lagos students recount ordeals

THE memories will linger for many years in their minds. Those are the indigenes and residents of Lagos State who are students of the University of Jos (UNIJOS) and were evacuated last week by the Lagos State government.

The students, 64 in all, including a three-week-old baby, named Daniella and her mother, were evacuated to Lagos in a bus which was accompanied by armed security personnel and some state government officials.

The students, who are not only full of praise and thankful to God and to the Lagos State government, particularly Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Special Adviser on Education, Mr Wahab Tokunbo, for the prompt intervention in evacuating them from the troubled state, recounted their ordeals while in Jos.

According to them, they lived in constant fear both in class and hostels.

They said the latest crisis that rocked the city of Jos and some other parts of Plateau State was as if they were in a ‘war zone’ with nobody certain of who could be the next victim of the attacks by the gunmen.

One of the students, who is in 200-level at the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy, Clinton Shotikare, thanked Governor Sanwo-Olu on behalf of all of the evacuees during their reception.

He said they would remain grateful to him for the gesture and the hospitality they received in Lagos and the money given to each of them to go back to their families.

He said such gesture could only be from a responsive and responsible government as Lagos State’s.

Giving more insights into their horrible experiences in Jos, the president of the National Union of Lagos State Students (NULASS), UNIJOS branch, Mr Jinadu Ayorinde, who is in 300- level studying Actuarial Science, told Nigerian Tribune that they were very lucky that none of them from Lagos State lost his or her life to the crisis.

“But regrettably”, he pointed out, “some students lost their lives while several others were wounded and taken to hospitals for attention.”

Ayorinde, who is from Lagos Island, said it was an experience he would never wish upon anybody either as a student or non-student.

He said it all started on a Saturday morning when some travellers suspected to be Fulani were attacked and killed based on the perceived atrocities some herdsmen had perpetrated in the area.

“That was what sparked the latest crisis as some of their people came back on reprisal and in a bloodier way, the students were the main target because the killing took place around the university community.

“When the avengers came, they went to the village behind the university premises and killed up to 23 residents including some students. The people of the community evacuated corpses of their people and dumped them at the Government House.

“So, within that period, there was tension everywhere and nobody knew what could happen to next ; that alone threw everybody, including the students ,into total confusion.

To worsen the situation, the state government imposed a 24-hours curfew; we could not go out to buy food,”he said.

He said they had to get in touch with the Lagos State government for help and it was easier for them to gather themselves for evacuation because they all belong to NULASS as Lagos indigenes and residents of the state.

He said about two months before the latest incident, a letter was allegedly sent to the school from unidentified gunmen asking the management to prepare for their coming.

He said the school had to order all the students to proceed immediately on a two-week break to enable the management to beef up security in and around the school.

“We returned to school after the management was satisfied with the security measures it had put in place to continue with our studies; we were in the middle of our second semester examinations when the latest crisis erupted.

“So, crisis is not new to us as we are constantly in fear in school,” he stressed.

Describing the general security situation in the country as pathetic, Mr Aroyinde said governments at all levels must find workable modalities to secure lives and property of law-abiding Nigerians anywhere they live.

He said President Muhammadu Buhari in particular as a chief security officer must be more alive to perform that role as constitutionally expected.

He however, pointed out that now that the situation had relatively doused and the economic activities had almost returned fully in Jos and other parts of Plateau State, they would certainly go back to school once resumption is announced.

Receiving the students, Governor Sanwo-Olu thanked God for sparing their lives from the attacks and during the rescue operation.

He said the evacuation showed that Lagos State government had the capacity to respond to any emergency when it concerns people from the state wherever they live.

The governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, urged the students not to lose touch with their studies, as they were reunited with their families.

On his part, the special adviser to the Governor on Education, Mr Wahab Tokunbo, whose office was responsible for the evacuation, said the evacuation was another landmark response by the Sanwo-Olu-led administration.

He explained through the permanent secretary of his office, Mr Kasali Adeniran, who represented him at the event, that the state government would continue to give deserved attention to safety, security and welfare of the people of the state including students wherever they live.


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