In recent times, there have been reports on the activities of cultists in the state owned Cross River University of Technology, CRUTECH. Early in July this year, a final year student of electrical electronics engineering, simply identified as James, was stabbed to death in front of his department and in September a popular hall three shop owner identified as Mourinho was found dead by hall two hostel.
Jerome Egbe who is currently a lecturer in the department of civil engineering and a former Students Union Government (SUG) president of the school, spoke with ROSE IDO on the development.
What could be the cause of the consistent attack on students of your institution and what is management doing to curb the challenges on ground?
Well, I won’t be speaking for management since I am not a member of the management but I will be thinking in the direction of how we can assist management in providing solution to these activities that are constantly perpetuated by those under cover boys.
First, in the kind gesture of the university visitor which is the governor of Cross River State, he has a role to play and one of those roles of for him to be reminded of his recent promise of a perimeter fencing of the university. The university is not fenced and as I speak to you, this is the only university for now that has no perimeter fencing and that by extension poses a threat, not only to the students but to the management. I have carried out an analysis and have come up with a finding that we have more than 10 illegal exits in the school and that is not speaking well of the university. So, the visitor should as a matter of urgency, commence the perimeter fencing.
The issue of encroachment has also been because the university now is entangled with a community living inside. That alone poses a very big threat because the people perpetuating this evil act are coming from the community to invade and attack and go back unchallenged. To arrest this situation, management must find a way to quickly reach out to the visitor because the lives and properties of this university is under the visitor who doubles as the chief security officer of the state.
Another way management can come in to serve as deterrent to either intending cultists or those who have joined already, is to expel those in it already. We have cases of suspected cultists who I am convinced that the security officers have their names; they do not need permission from the visitor to prosecute them because that is the best practice everywhere for such students whose names have been forwarded, tried and evidence shows that they are members of various cult groups should be expelled. When this is achieved, it will go a long way to caution the rest.
What action has management taken so far to prevent this incident from reoccurring?
We suggested to the management to mount billboards with the inscription ‘management and staff say no to cultism, lives are very important’. I’m sure that management has taken the initiative and you can sight them all over the campus.
Secondly, another initiative is for them to carry out a programme on the danger of cultism on the corporate image of CRUTECH, where all stakeholders would be able to talk to those students especially during orientation because the entry point are those who come in through JAMB, the year one students that do not know their left from their right and will easily fall prey to advances from those cultists.
I must give kudos to the acting vice chancellor. She is a no nonsense woman and a mother. She is already on top of the matter as you can see. The police are everywhere, those in uniform and those who are not and there are about four patrol vans in the school and that has also rekindled confidence in the lecturers and students that what used to be a safe haven for those culprits is no longer like that and we pray that more securities from the DSS should be introduced.
People equate CRUTECH with the game of temple run. As a lecturer of the institution how does it make you feel?
I feel so embarrassed because I can talk authoritatively that when I was SUG president, I ensured that I partner with the management in ensuring that there was a peaceful environment and the issue of insecurity never showed up under my government because I know the boys that were involved and reported them to management and proper actions were taken.
My worry is the location of the university that is in constant conflict. Why would you begin to name a street Ekpo Abasi, that is God and darkness are fighting! So the name is what is also by extension affecting the entire mentality of the place because even when it was a polytechnic, it has always been like this.
Another thing I think lecturers can do is that there must be a roster; if a student has absconded from attending classes only to appear to write exams, something is wrong and we should be able to report such students. So, I think that appearances in class should be looked at.
Students should be made to carry along their identification card. We should be able to identify our students because the number of street boys and hawkers that come in through those illegal exits could be part of the problem we are having here.
It is not enough for the security officers to be predominantly at the entrance, what happens to the other exits? They should be spread to get a reasonable result. How do you want to check people when you are constantly on uniform and everybody knows that this is the attacker coming. So, they should be under cover men.
Talking about the security men, it is true that they are either not trained or fully armed to do the job, because reports have it that James was killed in the presence of his departmental security officer.
On the issue of security, though I am not standing for the management, but any security agency that is not fully funded, there are bound to be lapses and if their allowances are not paid promptly, they are bound to compromise because they are also humans. Another area is that of redundancy. Some of those people are aged, they have been there since the then polytechnic, that they have no business being there anymore because they have no strength. Retired security men who have prior knowledge or securities who have license to make use of guns just like what is practiced in UNICAL, where every security man owns a gun and the people know that they can shoot, should be adopted here too, in partnership with the state anti cultist squad
Management should also install CCTV cameras, most schools are advanced in technology, so those porous exits should have cameras for the securities to see what is happening there and there must be 24 hours power supply because it won’t work under darkness.
They say security is every man’s business; so do you think there are ways students and the SUG can assist in this fight against insecurity?
The SUG is another arm of government in the university and they play a very vital role. They have a role to play with the management because they relate with the students on a daily basis and the people who are perpetuating this act are students like them; they live with them in the hostels and attend classes together. So, the SUG should establish what we call students taskforce, which should serve as ears of the management and they should be attended to and provided with a utility vehicle to strengthen them.
For those who are going to contest for various officers of the school, the security should be up and doing and if any is found to be a member of any secret society, such should be disqualified and expelled immediately because some of the students union leaders are cultists who indirectly promote the issue of cultism.