Security agents comprising the State Security Service (SSS), the police and army have been deployed in large numbers to Omuokere Aluu community, Rivers State, as part of an effort by government to fish out those responsible for the killing of four University of Port Harcourt students.
This came as the Rivers State police command has said that men of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) were still interrogating the traditional ruler of Omuokere-Aluu, Alhaji Hassan Welewa, and 12 other members of the community who were arrested in connection with the murder, last Friday, of the students..
Spokesman of the command Mr. Ben Ugwuegbulem, a deputy superintendent of police (DSP), told LEADERSHIP on telephone that the police had not made more arrests in respect of the murder.
Ugwuegbulem said the police were still investigating to find out if it was Welewa, who is also a leader of the Muslim community in the state, that gave the order to the youths to carry out the dastardly act.
The police spokesman had, in a statement on Sunday, said: “Rivers State Police Command unequivocally condemns the gruesome killing of four Uniport students on October 5 by irate mob from Aluu community. The command sympathises with the families of the slain students and also appeals to them not to take the law into their hands. Students of the university are urged not to engage in any reprisal attack as such could lead to chaos and anarchy.
“The command has commenced investigation into the incident. Amazing success has been recorded in that regard as 13 persons, including the chief of the community, suspected to have been involved in the reprehensible, barbaric act have been arrested based on credible intelligence and video clips of the killings. Suspects are being interrogated by crack police team.”
Meanwhile, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has condemned the murder of the students, saying that it was dismayed at the zero level to which the sanctity of human life has been reduced in the country.
In a statement signed by its publicity secretary in Rivers State, Jerry Needam, and made available to LEADERSHIP, the ACN described the action of the Aluu community people as wicked, most unnatural, and animalistic.
The statement said for the killers not to pause awhile to confirm their suspicion before recourse to on-the-spot decimation of the four students was an indication that they are more inhuman and devilish than the robbers they claim to guard against.
The party blamed the recurring dastardly acts on the lackadaisical attitude of government to security of life and property in the state as well as the non-commitment of security operatives who, it said, have given up their primary assignment to chase and harass motorists and unsuspecting innocent members of the public with a view to extorting money from them.
It wondered why the police patrol teams scattered all over the strategic points around Port Harcourt metropolis and the Uniport axis would not be found around the scene several hours after the incident, even when a distress call had been made.
The statement said: “While not holding brief for any of the parties and or exonerating the dead from any crime alleged, nonetheless, it is most sinful and satanic to subject mere suspects to the kind of torture and excruciating death as done to these students.
“We condemn it in its entirety and call for full-scale investigation into the incident and also plead that this case should not just be handled as one of such cases as was the case in the past. The lives and future of these students cut short in their prime and sent to their early graves must not be in vain.”
Meanwhile, the authorities of the university have declared a seven-day mourning. Vice Chancellor of the university Professor Joseph Ajienka told newsmen in Port Harcourt yesterday that the institution had suspended its planned student union week as a mark of respect to its three students.
Ajienka gave the names of the students as Biringa Chiadika Lordson, year two, Theatre Arts, with matriculation number U2010/1805036; Ugonna Kelechi Obuzor, year two, Geology, with matriculation number U2010/5565149 and Mike Lloyd Toku, year two, Civil Engineering, with matriculation number U2010/3010094.
He said efforts were still on to confirm if the fourth victim who was killed along with the three students, Tekena Erikena, was a student of the university. He described the killing of the students as a horrendous crime.
Ajienka dismissed allegations in some quarters that students of the university were mobilizing to storm Omuokere Aluu community where the killing took place for a reprisal attack.
Corroborating the position of the vice chancellor, the president of the student union government (SUG) of the university, Maxwell Nyanabo Soye, said it was not true that students of the institution were protesting, stressing that the leadership of the union had been appealing to the angry students to remain calm and allow security agencies to do their job.
Soye said: “It is not true that students are protesting. But it does not mean that we are comfortable with what has happened. We, as student leaders, have been appealing to the students to remain calm so that security agencies can do their job.”
He however charged the security agencies to endeavour to fish out the perpetrators of the dastardly act, saying, “If that is not done, we may not be able to control the students any longer.”