FEATURE ARTICLE

Dr. Nina Mezu-Nwaba, CAPT., USPHS, PharmD, MPH, MSC.Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Maryland, USA

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BURNING ALIVE OF 4 UNIVERSITY OF PORT HARCOURT STUDENTS IN RIVERS STATE:
AN UNJUSTIFIED BARBARIC ACT

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he torture and burning alive of 4 University of Port Harcourt Students at Aluu Community in Rivers State, Nigeria, all under 22 years of age by villagers/students, for alleged crimes, etc, without an option to try the case is unacceptable barbaric jungle justice that should not be associated with a country like Nigeria. A country where those that loot billions are celebrated and those that commit minor crimes are not only imprisoned but sometimes tortured or sacrificed in a manner that animal killing looks humane.

The University and the government should protect these adolescents, some of whom are still minors, from jungle justice. Even if they committed the minor crimes they are accused of, they should be reported to the appropriate authorities. It must be remembered that they are the victims of bad governance and greed in Nigeria, a country where mediocrity is celebrated, a country where folks get rich overnight by buying elections and looting the public treasury. Such folks are celebrated by all and portrayed as the rich and the successful in Nigeria. The average Nigerian appears not to mind that the wealth is ill-gotten.

Bad behavior in institutions of higher learning should be condemned and good behavior should be promoted. This malaise and anomie appear to be the logical consequence of a corrupt society where children have no good role models. Good government and good leadership beget good followership. If the government cannot protect its citizens generally, it becomes more difficult for University Chancellors to protect their students, our future generation of leaders; however, University Chancellors need to do more to protect the students under their care.

Any child under 24 years of age is still growing, Universities are responsible for children left under their care, my heart bleeds for the students. All concerned folks and well meaning people need to put up a position statement to University Chancellors to protect our future generation of leaders in the Universities; protection by educating them on good behavior, punishing and having zero tolerance for cultism and bad behavior, protection from the villagers around the school environment, by having gates or security around approved off campus hostels. The University, the students and the villages around the school environment should see themselves as one community.

To do nothing is no longer an option. The Mubi Massacre on October 1, 2012, in Adamawa State where students were called out by their names and butchered like animals is a gruesome act beyond insanity. So also is the killing of the University of Port-Harcourt students at Aluu Community in Rivers State. It is not enough to investigate these incidents, every effort must be made to tackle the socio-cultural and economic reasons or "excuses" that foster these sociopathic and unacceptable behaviors.

Nigeria has failed its people and more so the young who are a product of the environment we have created for them - institutions perennially on strike, and after graduation, possibly, the highest youth unemployment in the world. The root cause of the problems stare us in the face. We need to take a step back and do the right thing for the young and for the nation before we lose them all to jungle justice, hard drugs, bad roads, HIV, lack of aviation safety, etc. This is very distressful whether we personally know the kids involved or not, it is indeed a Public Health Emergency. They are our fellow brothers and sisters. They are Nigerians. They are human beings. It is not enough to watch and cry.

This is a call to all to be the Voice for the Voiceless. A significant change must start now. It should have started years ago. It has become too much, too unbearable and violates all Human Rights laws and decency. We all need to speak out and up and in unmistakable terms let the President, the Governors, the Senators, Members of the State and National Assemblies, Ministers and Commissioners, University Chancellors and Secondary School Principals and others in leadership positions know that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH - the problem of insecurity, the kidnapping, the raping, the killing and maiming, stealing, drugs, cultism, alcohol, etc. Unfortunately for every visible or invisible band of youth miscreants, there is an adult teacher, sponsor, financier, protector and godfather lurking in the dark. Together, I believe we can make a difference and effect a change. Let us start converting and winning these lost souls one by one by our good example and holding the Government, all Leaders and University Leaders accountable. Doing Nothing is No Longer an Option.

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