On The Brink Of Attack: Insecurity On Campuses, The Nigerian Situation.
By Daniel Faithful M. And Favour Mbiraeye
Maintenance of on-campus security has been a major challenge which has received below par attention from management. Secuirty threats to campuses are either from internal sources or external sources. It should be noted that no educational institution is free from security chalenges, but this challemges vary and have several predisposing factors.
A visit to some institutions revealed that some of them bore gates which offered more aesthetic than security functions as they inveterately were easily accessible by anybody with paucity of control. In most campuses armed robbers just stroll in or drive through the gates and unleash mayhem on unsuspecting students on campus, in class rooms and along walk ways. A security specialist with a private security firm said “Anybody could just walk through the gates of our universities and this is highly dangerous, especially in periods like this, higher institutions could be soft targets and regarding the number of people within our campuses this should be a cause for concern.”
THE CRUTECH SITUATION
The Students of Cross Rivers State University of Technology, had embarked on a Protest over Security challenges that have consistently been a threat.
The students of CRUTECH Calabar campus have been harrased occasionally by miscreants and robbers. Within the month of may robbers raided the lecture halls used by students for night study, these classes which were then populated because of the forthcoming examinations provided a concentration of ‘tasty’ prey to the invaders. The students have decried this turn of events, staff and students of the school protested for the same reasons early this year.
Students have lamented about the porosity of the security network owing to the fact that the school is used as an access point, as it provides route to the neighbouring environs; the school is also sited in a volatile region, which is occasionally under threat by miscreants; the many points of entry into the school premises are not well checked; and some staff also complained that some of the school lands are being sold off to individuals with no relationship to an academic environment.
A student who preferred anonymity stated that “ living in the hostel now is difficult, one has to stay indoors, in order not to be in harms way”
The enraged students on Thursday 26th may, assembled at the Student Union Government (S.U.G) secretariat, then marched with placards and chanting ‘aluta’ songs to the students affairs division and the Vice Chancellors office .
Professor Anthony Owan-Enoh (Vice Chancellor CRUTECH) calmed the students down, telling the students that the management would take the situation more seriously and promised better conditions of security service. He also promised that there would be steady power supply from 6:00pm to 3:00am every day .
The Broader Spectrum
Experience has shown that management of various universities across the country have preferred the reactive approach rather than being proactive, and putting preventive measures.
University Of Calabar
It took the unfortunate events of May 3rd 2016, involving the kidnap of some students and staff of the University of Calabar ( it led to one week withdrawal of service by academic staff) before police vans were stationed at the main gate at nights and at other points of the school.
According to Daniel Essien a student of medicine and surgery University of Calabar “I do not consider the University premises safe at all, we are left to operate under God’s grace, else anything could happen at any time”
Another student Umoh Abraham in response to his assessment of the security situation said ” … After being robbed so many times, what am I expected to say“.
The surveillance in the campus are most times unarmed and have little intelligence in getting ahead of the situation. According to some students, some cases are left unreported .
Most tertiary institutions lack a proper perimeter fence and this increases vulnerability to attacks.
University Of Nigeria Nsukka.
Students of University of Nigeria Nssuka (UNN) rose alarm on sighting herdsmen within the school premises without proper security clearance on the 1st of may 2016. Students however insisted that the campus is safe as there is effective surveillance and cases of criminal activities are scarce. “There has been no cause for alarm in recent times, the place has been relatively safe but the off -campus hostels are something else”– a student said.
Niger Delta University
Students of the Niger Delta University, Amassoma campus Bayelsa state have also bemoaned the situation, stating that although there is security presence on campus, it is poor and inefficient.
According to Briggs Feghatari ” the college were I and my colleagues go to read at nights has only the pharmacy block fenced, with a gate and security post so students are robbed regularly in the medical laboratory and medicine block“. Another student who claimed anonymity said ” they brought vigilante once for a week and told them to say the place was now calm, they were withdrawn that same day a student lost his hand(cut with a matchet from his wrist joint) and laptop“.
Anambra State University
Some institutions have resorted to vigilante groups and anti-cult groups, though with its attendant problems, an example is the case of the graduate of Anambra State University(ANSU) who was allegedly killed when he returned for his clearance. Although circumstances surrounding his death are still misty, as management, students and the school’s anti-cult group had given different sides to the story, the school however has been shut down indefinitely as students rioted on the 25th of may at its Uli Campus.
Rivers State University Of Science and Technology
The Nkpolu campus is occasionally terrorised by various cults groups infiltrating from around the school area, who make their way into school robbing, maiming, raping students and death for some who are rather unlucky.
According to Iyowuna Chapp-Jumbo a 200 level mechanical engineering student of Rivers State University of Science and Technology ” the security situation has deteriorated drastically than before, there has been roberries in school and also in the hostels, the school lacks good security personell and protocols anybody could make it through the gates with a weapon” . Students have called on the school’s management and state government to handle the situation
A Different Story…
However the story is different in Private institutions within the country, as students in some of the institutions have asserted that the situation is better as management works harder to combat challenges. A deputy chief security officer in one of the private universities said “Security crisis come from students within campus and still logistics are put in place to stall such incidents with stiff punitive measures”.
Soye Boyle a 200 level student of Pharmacy Madonna University Elele campus said, “the security within the school is tight, there is effective surveillance. Although there is restriction of access in and out of the premises, students can only leave for cogent reasons or sometimes parents must come here (school) first.” It was also noticed that visitors are normally kept at the gate, and there are both male and female security officers on campus to handle both sexes.
Daniel Shalom a 200 level student of Chemical Engineering, Covenant University, Ota Ogun state said ” the school here is calm, the security and surveillance is highly effective, defaulters of school regulations are however properly dealt with by authorities, the presence of God is also here”.
The Way Forward:
- Our Institutions should enforce the use of Identity cards by all members of the university community (I.e staff, students, business vendors and service providers and visitors). In order to identify every person on campus at any point in time
- Create and maintain a comprehensive database of members of the University community. Relevant information and bio-data should be captured in the schools possession and accessible by both Internal security and security agencies when due. This would help to monitor and locate every member of the school community.
- It should be an imperative that our institutions have a perimeter fence round its premises .
- The security unit should be well staffed, trained and equipped. The security challenges of today demands more from security staff; intelligence and networking is paramount. Ex-service men should be incorporated into the institutions security system.
- The points of entry should be well manned, and better measures for checks/screening of persons, luggages and vehicles coming in an leaving campus.
- Orientation and positive public enlightenment should be employed; students should be abreast of safety precautions both within and outside campus, periodic security drills should also be adopted.
- There should be swift response from the security unit. Emergency numbers to call and report suspicious or criminal activity should be on display at strategic areas of campus.
- Street lighting and installation of Close Circuit television (CCTV) Cameras around hostels, classrooms and other strategic points(e.g points of access)
- Areas prone to criminal activities should be under surveillance. Also, there should be regular patrols within all areas of campus and environs
- Introduction of Security awareness courses into the curricula of general studies programming and regular publication of security related issues via various media
- The police and other security agencies should ensure effective policing of the environs of our tertiary institutions.
- Focus should include crises management, Intelligence gathering, security networking as well as crime prevention.
As Dr Mohammed Bello Ibrahim, Rector Kaduna Polytechnic posited in a lecture on ‘Security Challenges In Educational Institutions’ ” An educational institution with an insecure environment is susceptible to distractions and possible disintegration. It is only imperative, therefore, that educational institutions enhance their security and intelligence networks to contain the myriad of challenges and threats facing her daily.”
It is a major challenge demanding quick response and immediate action. It is time for a clarion call to action to be made across our institutions, deliberation across different fora involving; management, student union governments and councils, the student community, security agencies and Government should get involved . And save our country from this looming danger and the devastion it portends.
Daniel Faithful is a Medical Student (UNICAL) and Favour Embraeye Microbiology student (CRUTECH) are both campus journalist .