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University of Ibadan’s (In)Security System: The Parable of Water in a Sieve

I remember the first time I ever lost my belongings to a thief. It was in my first year in university, as an occupant of Mellanby Hall, in one of the rooms on the ground floor popularly called ‘Dungeon.’ I never really understood why it was called ‘Dungeon,’ I just assumed it referred to its, maddening swarm of hungry mosquitoes and nauseating waves of sickening smells, which I noticed immediately. Later on, however, I received a true taste of what Dungeon really meant.

Tragedy struck one night during an exam period, as my roommates and I were deep in slumber. We woke up to realise that a thief had stealthily stolen two phones through an opening in the balcony door. It must be understood that the opening was as a result of broken glass on a specific area on the door, which had been there long before I was admitted as a student and before I was allocated the room. Yet, nothing was done about it throughout our stay, despite our numerous complaints.

This happened a long time ago, but the memory of that day lingers.

Unfortunately, a series of thefts were subsequently recorded in the hall even after the ill-fated experience that my roommates and I went through because there were no significant measures to curtail the rising levels of insecurity in the hostel. Disappointingly, we discovered that some thieves, who were eventually caught by students, were often non-students, outsiders— guys from Agbowó and other neighbouring areas. We then noticed that thieves who were lucky enough to escape our watchful eyes would pass through the residential hall’s gate and, ultimately, through any one of the campus gates as well without disturbance from authorities who should have prevented their entry in the first place.

For the few years, I have spent as an undergraduate at the University of Ibadan, I have had countless reasons to hold on to the claim that security in the institution is non-existent, a stellar representation of the saying: like pouring water in a sieve. There is no doubt that the various gates and checkpoints in the school are for show and serve no purpose in protecting students from harm. The security operatives of UI, popularly called Abẹfẹ́lẹ́, are akin to the Nigerian Police Force, which has been left to rot for so long, they serve very little purpose.

I mean, how else does one describe a situation where anybody can waltz through the campus without being checked at all? Or how does one describe the locust-like influx of thieves and beggars threatening the sanity and comfort of the students? What about cases where beggars would suddenly enter a class while a lecture is going on? What more befitting description can be used to explain all these security blots, if not the word dysfunctional?

As a matter of fact, there has been a recent case of theft allegedly involving an ‘Abẹfẹ́lẹ́’ security officer. On Tuesday the 26th March, the victim explained that he was at the Distance Learning Centre for an exam slated for 10:00 am and he had a bag containing his phone, laptop and some other valuable items with him.

Upon entering the exam hall, he was asked to keep his bag with the security personnel present, a man and a woman. He mentioned that he disclosed the content of his bag to the security man in a bid to get him to watch over the bag with more fervour than he normally would. To his dismay, after taking his exam, he was unable to retrieve his bag, as it was not there. Ironically, the security man he had spoken with earlier asked him to search for his bag by himself. Disgraceful.

This incident and the many others like it show that security is a joke at the University of Ibadan. If the security guards of the first and best university in Nigeria cannot be trusted, how can any student be confident of the safety of his/her life and property within the campus?

As a matter of urgency, the university management must respond to this failure as soon as possible. This is definitely not the first time something has been written on the issue of our frail security and, for this reason, it is crystal-clear that security problems in the school have been festering, crying for a swift check.

There is a dire need for a radical overhaul of our security system. Discipline and a good sense of duty seem to be missing, as observed in the lackadaisical attitude of the Abẹfẹ́lẹ́. Indeed, it is obvious that many of the security operatives in the university are either not well trained or not adequately monitored towards ensuring that they execute what they have been trained for. It is high time the university management upped the ante on ensuring a safer environment for all.

Even if our freedom of speech is already muffled, should our fundamental human rights to life and property be smothered as well?

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