1st August, 2011
Scores of female students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State who are undergoing pre-degree programme have fled their hostels at Moro village, on the outskirt of the ancient town, following alleged case of gang rape.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the students live in private hostels in the village, due to the universityâ€™s non-residential policy on the pre-degree programme.
It was gathered that the rape suspects swooped on the students and raped an unspecified number of them as well as robbed them of their belongings.
Consequently, most of the students who thereafter became fear-stricken, had to abandon their hostels, some five kilometres to the universityâ€™s main campus at Ile-Ife.
A credible source told NAN that some parents had in the past expressed serious concern at the nondescript nature of the hostels, with no good security arrangements, while some of the rooms were virtually without good doors.
The parents were said to have complained that the students were paired up in rooms that were not fit for human habitation in spite of the very high fees the university authority charges on each student for the nine-month programme.
Mr. Biodun Olanrewaju, the Public Relations Officer of the university, who confirmed the incident, said the number of affected students had yet to be ascertained.
He told NAN that as soon as the incident occurred, a detachment of security men from the main campus was deployed in the area to keep vigil and provide security for the students.
Olanrewaju explained that the Moro hostels were not owned by the university, but were rented through private arrangements in collaboration with the parents of the students.
He said: â€œIt is true that we operate a pre-degree programme at Moro, but it is non-residential. Parents made private arrangements for the accommodation of their children.
â€œWe are touched by the unfortunate incident, and we identify with the students. The onus is, however, on the police to maintain security of lives and property in the area.
â€œThe university authority provides security at the study centre. However, this does not go beyond the centre, as there is no way of taking care of the students at Moro.â€
Olanrewaju appealed to landlords in the area, especially those of them providing hostel accommodation for the students, to be more security conscious.
One of the female landlords told NAN under anonymity that what actually occurred was not a case of rape, but robbery attacks on the students.
â€œA group of robbers came to the area on Wednesday night to rob the students of their belongings, but the local security men raised alarm and they fled,â€ she said.
She said the armed robbers neither hurt nor rape the students during the operation, stressing that the hoodlums even dropped some stolen items while fleeing the scene.
â€œItems recovered from the robbers include 11 GSM handsets and some cash. All the items have since been released to the owners,â€ she added.
Some residents of the village who described the incident as very worrisome, told NAN that all the female occupants of the buildings where the incident occurred had abandoned their rooms.
The affected students were not available for comments, while the buildings have been put under lock and key by the landlady.
The Area Divisional Police Officer (DPO) at Ipetumodu, who declined to mention his name, told NAN that some of the students had in the past sought for adequate security at the hostels.
He said that although no case of rape was reported to the police, investigation would be carried out to ascertain what actually happened.
In his reaction, Dr. Ademola Adisa of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the university, urged government to ensure strict enforcement of the law on rape to effectively check the menace.
He said that if the judiciary could be firm in applying the law by punishing the culprits, the crime would be put under control.
Adisa noted with regret that cases of rape were so rampant in the society these days, especially among the youth, because of the indecent mode of dressing by most ladies.
He appealed to parents to always educate their children on how to dress decently and morally and to always monitor their movements, especially at night.
Mr. Olumide Taiwo, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, said the command was still expecting an official report on the case from its men in the area.