Anger, controversy trail police cult report on AAU

Police: Lecturers arrested with guns
ASUU to CP: Produce body of beheaded students

Authorities of the Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, Edo State and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are rooting for legal action against Edo State Police Command. Reports, CAJETAN MMUTA

The authorities of the Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, Edo State, the university’s chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the state’s Police Command, have in the last few days been exchanging brickbats over last week’s claim by the police that no fewer than 16 students of the institution were beheaded recently by cultists.

While the university is threatening to seek legal redress if the police failed to apologise and retract its statement, the ASUU has called on the Inspector General of Police to transfer the Edo State Commissioner of Police and order full investigation into the matter.

The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Haliru Gwandu, while giving the startling revelation, said the dastard act happened during a bloody rival cult war among the various cult groups in the university. He also alleged that some members of ASUU on the campus were involved in the cult activities.

But this did not go down well with the university management and other key stakeholders in the university system, especially ASUU, who in a swift reaction have continued to raise questions over the development. On their part, members of the university’s chapter of the union had on Wednesday descended heavily on the state command, describing such allegations against their members as an act of macabre dance, aimed at discrediting the university.

They stated that the institution has built its reputation over the years with the hard work of the lecturers and therefore could not be rubbished by the Commissioner of Police.

The ASUU Chairman, Monday Igbafen told newsmen at a press conference that the Commissioner of Police was out to justify the brutalization of one of the institution’s key dons and Dean of Faculty of Law, Prof. Sunday Edeko, whom the police forced to write a statement and an apology letter against his wish and will for committing no offence.

Igbafen declared that it was unprofessional for the police to allege that some lecturers of the institution were arrested with cache of arms without bringing them to the knowledge of the management for appropriate redress.

The union further condemned in strong terms the action of the commissioner, who according to it, rather than applying diplomacy towards resolving the matter between the lecturer and operatives of the command resorted to the path of blackmail and fairy tales in order to paint a picture of what did not happen within the university community.

Igbafen said; “Rather than do the needful by applying diplomacy and calling a peace meeting of stakeholders in the university and the police to address the problem at hand, the commissioner decided to toe the path of lies, dishonour and blackmail, claim- ing that his men had arrested some lecturers and professors of the university.”

He stated that the only case of investigation brought to the knowledge of ASUU of the institution was that of a lecturer arrested with fire arms in February, but who was released after presenting the license for the fire arms as a member of a vigilante group in Ekpoma town.

While noting that there were no report against the university about the said lecturer nor was he paraded, he pointed out that he did not appear in court.

Igbafen said members of ASUU, as a union are disciplined and would not raise false alarm or harbour any lecturer involving in cult activities or any criminal act.

The ASUU chairman added; “We make bold to say that the Commissioner cannot hide under this unfounded tales. He must produce ASP Ojo and his men in public and offer a convincing narrative to justify their ruthless presence and operations in Ekpoma. He must apologize to the victims of their ruthless and nefarious activities.

“ASUU AAU Ekpoma calls on the AIG Zone 5 and the Inspector General of Police to properly investigate Commissioner Gwandu and his activities in the state. We have immense confidence in the police.

We demand the immediate transfer of Haliru Gwandu. Edo State is a civilised state and we deserve a truly patriotic commissioner of police.”

Meanwhile, the university, which was established in the early 80s by the administration of the Second Republic Governor of the state, Prof. Ambrose Alli, a Professor of Morbid Anatomy, according to the management, has continued to enjoy relative peace and stability.

It said for the police to link the state-owned university to cultism without facts would not be acceptable.

“The institution has in recent times earned itself enviable reputation in the provision of academic excellence, staff and students in capacity building, research and development despite the paucity of funds facing it,” the management recalled. Irked by the development, the university’s Deputy Registrar, Information, Mr. Edward Aihevba, said the statements of the Commissioner of Police smacked of horror and disbelief.

And, following the mixed reactions trailing the police report, the university, according to its spokesman, is calling on the police to come out with more facts on when and where the killings took place, and who the actual victims or identities of the students are?

Aihevba said; “Why is it now that the police are telling the world about an incident that took place at a time no one could explain?

Is it that the parents and guardians of the beheaded students were unaware of the killing of their children for them to refuse to raise the alarm?” the management queried.

“Is it that such heinous act has remained under cover since all this while and the security agencies kept quiet about it? Or, where were the bodies of the victims (students) buried, and many other questions the police have to unravel.”

“The university hereby debunks and discredits these statements as totally false and embarrassing.

We, hereby, state unequivocally that Ambrose Alli University has had no issue of cult-related activities since the inception of the administration of the Vice- Chancellor, Prof. Ignatius Onimawo and his management team.

There had been no report from neither the police nor any individual or groups for that matter, concerning any incident of cultism or cult-related activities.”

“The police commissioner and his team could not have arrested any staff of the university, or found 14 beheaded students’ bodies and not make a report, formal or informal, to the authorities of the university.

“The commissioner by his pronouncement has opened the way for damaging and libelous display of falsehood in the social media. The university management hereby enjoins students of the university to disregard this falsehood, distressing and embarrassing report in the media, fuelled by officers of the Law.”

Towards this end, the university has demand that the Police Commissioner retracts his statement and apologize to the university within forty eight (48) hours, failing which, he said, the institution will not hesitate to institute legal action,” he demanded.

In the meantime, the police are still standing by their claim, as statistics made available to the public, indicated that the raging rival cult war involved high profile kingpins including senior members of academia of the university.

The police, who failed to disclose the scene of the killing, however, insisted they discovered that over 16 students of the institution had so far been beheaded during violent and bloody cult clashes among various cult groups in the state.

While briefing journalists in Benin-City about the success recorded by the command in the last three weeks, the CP pointed out that a total of 17 suspected cultists were arrested with assorted arms, even as he further explained that senior lecturers of the university found to be aiding and abetting cult activities in the area would not go unpunished.

The police boss, while assuring that the command would not relent on its zero tolerance for crime and cult activities in the state, said: “The university community made a call that cult groups were killing people. At that point two students had already been killed, and when the police went to inspect a site, we discovered that more than 14 students were beheaded at a particular time.

“There are some senior lecturers of the university who were arrested with fire arms. We are going to arrest those who were mentioned and the actual cultists and charge them to court.”

He disclosed that a large cache of firearms were recovered from the arrested lecturers, following police raids on their houses, adding that among those arrested is a Professor of Law, in whose house a double-barreled gun, single-barreled gun and one pump action gun were allegedly recovered.

Gwandu said: “We have a lot of issues with that particular university.

There are some senior lecturers that were apprehended with firearms. So, we are going to arrest those that were mentioned as well as the actual cultists and charge them to court. There is no going back on this.”

Though the professor who was arrested had since been granted bail, the police boss insisted that the case is under investigation.

As part of moves to end cultism and other criminal activities in institutions in the state, the police boss, therefore, called on parents and other stakeholders to be on guard and educate their wards on the need to shun cultism as the command was out to rid the state of all forms of criminality.

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