Higher institutions in Kaduna State have beefed up security since the incidents that occurred in two of Zaria’s popular higher institutions within the last two weeks. Students, lecturers and non-academic staff of higher institutions in the state have become more conscious of their surroundings, just as their managements have taken extra precaution to secure lives and property.
The abduction and subsequent release of students of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria along the Kaduna-Abuja highway and the invasion of the home of Bello Atiku of the Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic, also in Zaria, together with that of Dr Ibrahim Bako, a lecturer in the Department of Physiology, ABU, have sent fears into the academic community as there’s an indication that students and lecturers are no longer safe.
A day after bandits released nine abducted French students of the ABU, Dr Bako, his wife and daughter were abducted by bandits from his residence at Samaru, Zaria, about 12:30am. However, his wife and daughter were released the same night.
The incident also occurred few days after gunmen invaded Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, along the Kaduna-Zaria highway and abducted Bello Atiku, an engineer, and two of his neighbour’s children. Although Atiku and the two children have regained freedom, the ABU lecturer is still in captivity.
Members of staff and students of the polytechnic and the Kaduna State University (KASU), two institutions presently in session, told Daily Trust Saturday that the abductions served as a clarion call for their managements to wake up and take the security of their environments more seriously.
A visit to the polytechnic’s main campus in Tudun Wada and staff quarters showed that the management has beefed up security at the main entrance. Our correspondent observed that every vehicle was searched before it was allowed entry into the institution, and guards were seen stationed at all entrances to the campus.
The rector of the polytechnic, Professor Idris Bugaje, described the abduction of lecturers as very unfortunate, but said the institution had put additional security measures around its campuses.
He said reduction of the opening hours of the school’s library was one of the measures. “More importantly, our security units are more energised; and there is more intelligence. The only problem is that we cannot carry arms. We only liaise with the police so that anytime there is a breach we can get across to them immediately,” he said.
According to Bugaje, the school gates are now locked at night, unlike in the past when some of them were left open. He added that only bonafide members of the institution’s community were allowed into the premises at night.
Despite these security measures, however, some students and staff of the institution expressed reservations over the rising cases of kidnapping within the academic environment.
Aliyu Abubakar, a student of the institution, said they were still afraid because security operatives in the school were inadequate; and they are not armed. “This is why we are appealing to the government to assist our management to engage more armed security men to guard the environment, particularly at night,” he said.
The chairman, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) in the institution, Dr Mohammed Mohammed said, “We have every reason to worry, even though insecurity is all over the country. Now, the academic environment is unsafe and it is worrisome. Most of our staff members are concerned.”
Asked if he was satisfied with management’s efforts to protect the environment, he said, “Well, in a situation like this, the management can do little because it is a national issue. And for the fact that most institutions in the country are being starved of funds by the Federal Government, the management can only do little when it comes to security issues within its domain.’’
Mohammed also attributed the inability of some institutions to tackle security challenges to Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy, which he said had made it difficult for the management of the institution to have adequate funds.
A member of staff of the institution who didn’t want to be identified said the incident at the ABU and Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic had sent fears into their hearts, adding, “Already, we can see that the management has beefed up security within the institution because some lecturers have also expressed concern, particularly those at Bypass Campus. A security committee has visited the campus due to its poor boundary, to see how they can improve security.”
He also said he observed some security measures introduced by the management of the institution, including locking all the gates, except the main gate at the Tudun Wada main campus at 5pm instead of 10pm as obtained in the past.
Also, chairman of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), Kaduna Polytechnic, Comrade Muktar Muhammad, said they were convinced that the security measures so far taken would yield good results.
Front gate of Kaduna state university as security guards search vehicles before entering
He mentioned one of the measures as the recent recruitment of more guards, even before the incident at the ABU and Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic.
“Staff quarters have been under surveillance, but we always advise our staff and students to be more conscious of happenings around them because the issue of security is everybody’s business.
The management of the institution has also tried by rebuilding all the fences surrounding the school and staff quarters, which collapsed during the rainy season. This was done so that criminals would not take advantage of the situation,’’ he said.
When our correspondent visited the KASU, students expressed similar concerns on the issue of security.
Kamal Aliyu, a 200-Level student, described the spate of kidnapping as unfortunate, saying it shows how vulnerable Nigerian institutions are.
“Our school is located within the metropolis, yet we are worried about the situation. But we hope the government would do something about it fast,” he said.
Also, Diora Daniel, another student of the university, said the recent cases of kidnapping in tertiary institutions had compounded their problems. She said though there were no reported cases of kidnapping in the school, there was tension among students and members of staff.
“Apart from students, parents are also frightened over the spate of kidnapping in tertiary institutions. This could cause a lot of problems and setback in the learning environment,” she said.
She also advised that students should be encouraged to report suspicious cases as soon as possible, and cautioned against giving out important information regarding the school to strangers.