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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Students and Staff of University of Maiduguri Currently Living in Fear After Boko Haram Attack

Palpable fear has gripped students and staff of the University of Maiduguri after incessant Boko Haram attacks.
Maiduguri, the Borno State capital – one of the epicentres of Boko Haram insurgency – came under a vicious attack by insurgents penultimate week. The attack left bloodshed and destruction in its wake. The armed insurgents invaded the city and opened fire on residents. The attack, which came after a lull, preceded Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s visit to the state.
Days after terror, a pall of fear has enveloped the city, as the beleaguered residents still reel with apprehension. Members of the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) community are also frightened, having witnessed a similar scene of horror last January when a suicide bomber invaded the campus to blow up the school’s central mosque.
Although, the security situation is not new to members of the school, students are worried by the pockets of attack aimed at the campus by the Boko Haran insurgents. Tension is high among students and members of staff over the security measures on the campus.
Some of the assailants, who previously carried out successful attacks on the campus, either disguised as students, or sneaked into the campus through the bush.
Usman Maina, a 200-Level Biological Science student, said he is concerned about the measures put in place by the school authorities to secure the campus. According to him, the management must ensure there is no laxity in measures put in place to secure the campus.
He said: “Some of the attacks on our campus were not expected, because security guards usually vet people coming into the campus through the usual entrances to the school. Despite that they verify Identity (ID) Cards or other means of identification before allowing the people in, suicide bombers and criminals still found their way into the campus. So, we don’t understand how the attackers find their way in to launch attacks.”
Usman urged the school authorities to step up security screening of all vehicles visiting the campus, adding that the school security personnel must stop the habit of allowing VIP vehicles into the campus without being screened.
He added: “Some students come into the school in VIP vehicles. They are allowed into the school without being subjected to security screening. This is a dangerous practice. The terrorists can easily come in through that way.”
Reliving the last attack, Malam Amiruddeen Muhammad, an employee of the school, said he escaped being hit by stray bullet by the whiskers, as he left the school for his home.
He said: “I was on my way home from work when I heard sporadic gunshots. Initially, I thought it was a military exercise, because soldiers usually do their training with gunshots and residents of Maiduguri are used to that. I discovered it was Boko Haram attack when I got to NNPC Depot Bus Stop, where I saw people running in different directions.

“I had no option than turning back to the school immediately. I saw some of the Boko Haram terrorists in polo-shirts, shooting at residents. People from different parts of the town and those around Damboa Road fled for safety. It was traumatic for me, seeing so many wounded people.”
Muhammad said the incident indicated that Boko Haram still posed a danger to the state, noting that the school is a constant target of Boko Haram attacks because of the sect’s abhorrence for western education. He urged security agencies to invest in intelligence gathering and sharing to nip potential attacks in the bud.
Abdulfattah Usman, a 300-Level Language and Linguistics student, noted that suicide bombers found their way into the school because of sloppy security measure. He said security should be strengthened at strategic points around the school, noting that securing only Gate One of the school will be counterproductive to efforts being made by the school.
He said: “I would advice that surveillance cameras be mounted in all important locations on campus so that people entering and leaving can be monitored. There should be an electronic alert gadget that will alert security men,whenever a bomb is been planted.”
Mustapha Modu Bama, a Postgraduate Mass Communication student, said the recent attack in Maiduguri showed that the school is not immune to similar incidents. He advised the school authorities to rise up to the challenge and secure the campus.
According to Halima Abba Waziri, a 300-Level Management student, the school’s security men are taking students’ lives for granted.  She said: “I commend the courage of the VC in his efforts to make the campus safe, but I do not trust the security men at the gate. They only conduct checks on vehicles randomly. They don’t do proper checking. All they do is to ask students to display their ID cards even at a distance. Losing a llife will not be tolerated, because the kinds of security measures we have in place is not enough.”
Zara Abba Lawan, a 300-Level Public Administration student, said security is the basis of survival of any society, adding that the school cannot afford to sacrifice security of lives and property on the campus.
She said the school needed to deploy “highly trained” security personnel to ensure safety within and outside the university.
He said: “There should be improved security on campus. They should ensure strict security checks at mosques, churches and other places of worship. The government needs to do something about the insurgency and the deadly attacks, because lives and properties are being lost and people are always living in fear. I think it is high time a new strategy was applied to prevent attacks, especially on educational institutions.”
Another student, Ruqaiyya Yusoof, said: “We live in fear every day and we face a lot of threats, because the university is considered a soft target for violent attacks. Government needs to take all threats seriously.”
Although the government said it had reduced the sect’s power to launch large-scale attacks, Boko Haram’s capability to launch attacks on soft targets seems underestimated. If the government’s security strategy is not reviewed and improved, students fear that there may not be an end in sight to the violence within and around the campus.
Via The Nation

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