Following the recent reports on Students being bullied by the University of calabar surveillance unit, a student who was among the victims narrates the full story of what happened that night.
We were abused, harassed and extorted by the people paid to protect us on campus. Who then do we run to if apprehended by cultists or bulllied by the wrong sect on campus??
On Friday the 4th of March 2021 nine of my coursemates called and decided to meet in school to study for our forthcoming exams through dialectics since we learnt about strength in numbers. We sat beside the pavilion-3(where students read at night). We all arrived at about 8:30pm and intended to read till 5am where we’ll retire and go home.
At about 1am some of us where exhausted and couldn’t digest what we were reading anymore. While some fell asleep, some decided to stay and watch so our gadgets don’t get stolen and some others still skimmed through the materials hoping to join them later before we all woke up by 3am to revise what we read till 5am and then leave.
One of us decided to play a song with his phone since the ambience was somewhat sacred and they wanted to relieve stress.
Barely forty five seconds into the music three men dressed on black approached us, one of them cocking his gun and pointing it in our faces, we were scared to the bones shivering thinking they were criminals who came to to do to us what criminals do.
“Gimme that phone, i go shoot you now, give me the phones (X2), you dey mad? I leave my wife and girlfriend for house come de fight cultist you de play music”
It was at this point I looked up and saw the surveillance pick up can parked by the roadside and I wasn’t sure anymore whether to be relieved or start crying.
They said they were very far away when someone called and informed them we were disturbing everyone with our “loud music” so they drove and came to “help”
My other male coursemate who was with my phone tried to defend us and explain we’ve been playing the song for barely a minute and that we weren’t disturbing anyone, if anyone had spoken up we would’ve stopped the noise. Before he could breath another work we heard a loud slap, we all went silent immediately. “Gimme the phone too” He’d still wanted to explain the phone had nothing to do with the situation when the surveillance (whom we later learnt was Victor by name) threatened to hit him with his gun. I had to immediately beg him to do as he was told and give the phone.
They violently woke up the rest of us who were asleep and asked us to march to the pickup van in a single file like we were prisoners.
We(especially my female coursemates who were just woken from their sleep and couldn’t make any sense of what was going on) were scared to the bones unsure of what was going to happen next.
We were instructed to fold ourselves into the compressed ourselves into the boot and no one was to sit on the edge. One of us complained nine people couldn’t fit into such a small space, with the look on his face when he approached us she immediately learnt the dangers of contradicting what he says so we squeezed ourselves and sat down quietly and were all driven away to the surveillance unit.
Other students who were there kept exclaiming and some murmuring inaudibly as no one had the temerity to speak out. A greater majority just focused on laughing loudly as they immediately assumed we were guilty of something really heinous. At this point tears began to roll from my eyes. My brain began to come up with the worst of the worst that would happen I don’t know where I got the strength from to not burst out a loud cry.
We arrived at the surveillance unit and were asked to come down and seat on a reel, interrogated about our personal identity one after the other. They took pictures in a passport sized photograph and as a group then made us to write a statement under duress telling us what to write and how to write it and later concluded it with our names and reg numbers. It was at this point I couldn’t hold myself anymore. My classmate kept consoling me saying it was going to be okay
We were asked which state we came from and after two of my mates said they were from Akwa Ibom, he marched them out and asked them to lift their shirt up claiming he was looking for a tattoo to confirm if they were cultists. He removed his flat footwear that sounded like iron and leather and used it to give them two lashes on their bare backs for no reason other than that they were AkwaIbomites. This was after he asked another one of us to lie down flat and facedown, claiming he was being disrespectful with his countenance while he was talking to him. Before returning to sit with us he was flogged twice on the bare back too. Telling us he’s been here for a long time fighting and dealing with cultists. Telling us all sorts of stories which were all for one purpose… To scare the life out of us and make us compliant.
He kept telling us how this was the end of our stay in Unical and how he was going to write back to our HOD and we’ll face the panel which was going to find us guilty and we’ll be rusticated from the University.
None of us dared insult them or speak out in disagreement.
After pretending to dial the number of the CSO and making us hear that the number of switched off one of them (Whom we later identified as Rowland) called two of my coursemates to a corner and started telling us how our academic career didn’t have to come to an end. All we had to do was raise the sum of twenty thousand naira #20,000 within ourselves or else he wouldn’t help us. Stating that he wasn’t interested in our money that it was for everyone who had seen us and knew about the whole matter. That he wanted to kill the matter since one of us was his kinsman
We pleaded to pay fifteen thousand #15,000 instead and they reluctantly agreed.
He began to stress that if by 9:00am the next morning if we didn’t do the needful the matter will be out of his hands, We then said we were ready to make a transfer to him (Rowland) immediately and we’ll figure out how to sort ourselves out later. Our phones were returned and we made the transfer to him and were left to walk back to where they picked us. This was at about 3:00am in the morning.
Victor collected a bullet from Rowland and put it into the gun, shot it into the air for reasons we couldn’t understand. We all kept quiet and left. None of us have been the same as the trauma keeps replaying in our heads over and over. They collected the phone numbers of my female coursemates to use for whatever they wanted to use it for, these ladies are still feeling unsafe, unsure of what’s going to happen next.
My coursemates and I thank God it’s finally over and pray we can heal and move on to prepare for our first exams as malabites and malabresses.
With sincere gratitude I’d like to thank the following persons;
Dr…… dean of students affairs
Mr Okoi Usani,Chief security officer.
Comrade Ugah James Ugah, SUG President. Comrade Egba Victor, SUG secretary general.
For leaving what they had handling in hand to listen when we called and made sure we got back our money.
I sincerely hope investigations will be carried out and events like this won’t take place again & if it does, at least one victim (student or not) can be brave enough to speak up. If I can… You can too
For bringing the matter to book I have to thank my friends;
Udo Chiamaka Favour for taking the issue to the SUG and following it to the end.
Miley David my friend for giving me the voice to speak and following me through every step of the way, making sure it got through
The rest of my colleagues and everyone who contributed to seek justice