…as three reported dead one hospitalized
Residents of Sunshine Castle Hostel, Ihiagwa, one of the many private properties where students of Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, and other schools nearby rent for accommodations, were last week shocked after students including one lady were found dead after their room was forced open.
Authorities have yet to confirm the immediate and remote causes of the deaths.
However, the university authorities have said they do not have control over the personal relationships, interests, and activities of students living off-campus.
When the police eventually forced the room open, two of the students were found already dead, while two, one male and the only female, were found gasping for breath. They were rushed to hospital where the last surviving male student also died.
Though there was rumour that the only female, had also died, the police are however said to have revealed that she was alive and recuperating at an undisclosed hospital.
The circumstances surrounding the students’ deaths have however remained a mystery. No one has been able to give an authoritative account of the incidents.
However, the popular theory was that the students were involved in a sex spree with the female said to be a student of the nearby Federal Polytechnic Nekede. She is the only one now left to explain the entire episode, as the sole survivor. But the explanation thus far by security agencies, who were called in and probably the first witnesses, was that drugs such as tramadol, hemp, codeine and vodka, were found in the room.
The incident has once again brought to the fore the rampant use of performance enhancing drugs and the need to check the menace, especially among adolescents.
A security source, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, described the circulation of such drugs around Nekede and Ihiagwa areas as alarming. According to him, in the last few weeks, the police have raided some criminal hideouts in the area where large amounts of banned drugs were seized.
The source said the concentration of the two most prominent institutions of higher learning in Nekede and Ihiagwa, both in Owerri West Local Government Area, close by had made the perpetuation of all sorts of illegal behavior inevitable and difficult to checkmate.
Nekede, Ihiagwa and Eziobodo, Obinze and Umuchima have allegedly become dangerous and difficult places. In the last count, there are no fewer than 500 accommodations built by private individuals for students to rent. This has made these areas vulnerable to violence. Indeed in the last few weeks, no fewer than 15 persons have been killed in cult-related violence. The latest being the cult clashes that shook Nekede for over two weeks which claimed the lives of 10 persons who were said to be mostly students of FUTO or Fedpoly, Nekede.
The authorities of FUTO have explained their inability to curb the excesses. The public relations officer, Mrs. Uche Bright-Nwaelue, said the university authorities were not in any position to control the activities of students who preferred to live off campus, instead of taking advantage of the numerous hostels provided by the university and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“This incident is not a FUTO affair because it did not happen in any of our hostels. Three of them were FUTO students and the only female is from FedPoly, Nekede. Well, I cannot tell you what and how it happened because it is not a FUTO thing, but all I can say is that we don’t have control on any student who lives outside the campus.
“We have hostels A, B, C, D and E and each of these can accommodate hundreds of students. This is in addition to the Post Graduate Hostel and various other beautiful hostels built by NDDC, so any student that fails to take advantage of these is doing so at their peril,” she said.
Bright-Nwaelue added, “It is a pity that most students, especially the over indulged ones, prefer to live in lodges for reasons best known to them and there are many of them scattered around the host communities and there is no way we can monitor them. The first preference for them is to live outside and in fact, some of them live as husbands and wives.”
She however said that the university organises awareness programmes on the dangers of drugs and other related crimes.
“The school organises training, workshop and awareness programmes through many of the organs we have in school. There is the Institute of Women, Gender and Development Studies, FUTO Women Association, Department of Students Affairs, students’ arm of Man O’ War, and the counselling unit. We use these organs to caution them. Don’t also forget that at the end of each session, they go back to their parents,” she said.
She said though the incident was a regrettable one, parents should also try to inculcate in their children the virtue of good moral living and above all the fear of God in whatever they do.