It was reported that two Madonna University students in Anambra State were tortured by the institution’s staff. However, the school has come out with it’s side of the story. Nnamdi Mbawuike reports on the controversial development.
As the alleged torture of two students of the famous Madonna University, Okija, Stanley Okoye and Gai-lim Lord Aondofa continues to generate mixed reactions, the authorities of the university have dismissed the allegation, saying it was baseless and unfounded.
It could be recalled that the duo of Stanley Okoye, a Civil Engineering student and Ga-Lim Aondofa Lord had claimed that they were tortured after they were taken away by the chief security officer of the university, Okey Ogbonna and the dean of student affairs, Rev Fr. Isaac Nginga, a claim that has continued to generate mixed reactions from people.
While some have thrown their weight and sympathy behind the victims, others especially undergraduates, members of staff and some professional bodies who have some dealings with the university have stepped forward to oppose clearly that the news is completely against what the university is known to stand for.
However, the university authorities have strongly dismissed the allegation that officials of the university abducted the students and tortured them, alleging that it was rather the said students who attacked the chief security officer of the institution, Mr Okey Ogbonna.
Prior to the reaction of the university authorities, it was gathered that in 2013, the authority of the university suspended one of the students, Stanley Okoye for one year after he allegedly pleaded guilty to a gross misconduct before the university’s disciplinary committee panel.
It was further gathered that the document which announced the suspension of Stanley Okoye, which was signed by an assistant registrar of the university, had declared that Madonna University does not condone any unwholesome activity or behaviour. It stressed that series of allegations and evidences before the students’ disciplinary committee revealed that students were generally warned during their orientation to desist from going to workers’ quarters and soldiers guard post of the university but Stanley and other friends, Mordi Emmanuel and Edonkumuh Anthony, turned down the orientation guide given to them every Saturday.
“After due interrogations and accepting as true the evidence adduced, you finally admitted before the disciplinary committee that you were guilty of these offences. These actions of yours negate the rules and regulations of this noble university which you signed to uphold at the time you were admitted into the institution.
“Consequently, the university has decided that you should go on suspension for one academic year with effect from December 9, 2013. You will be required at the end of the suspension to apply for re-admission into the university” the statement which was copied to the Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Technology and the Chief Security Officer had stated.
It was gathered that Stanley Okoye, was however, reinstated after he brought somebody that impersonated his father and guaranteed him.
Confirming the suspension of Stanley Okoye in 2013, the coordinator of security department at the Madonna University, Rev Father Francis Nwachukwu, stated that the two students who claimed that they were tortured have been in the bad record of the university over their alleged nefarious activities in the institution.
He alleged that one of the students, Stanley Okoye was suspended for one year from the university from 2013 after he was found guilty of gross misconduct by the disciplinary panel of the university.
The cleric averred that his case then had to do with buying, smoking and supplying of Indian hemp to students on campus.
He however expressed dismay that after Stanley Okoye was asked to go suspension for a period of one year but refused to go and stayed in a yet to be identified place, adding that he did not even notify his father that he was on suspension.
Rev Nwachukwu disclosed further that the institution decided not expel him because it wanted to give him a second chance but expressed surprise that at the expiration of the suspension, Stanley brought somebody claiming that he was his father.
According to him, the man did not only impersonate Stanley’s father but also guaranteed him, adding that the university was not aware that the man was not Stanley’s father.
He insisted that the issues between the two students (Stanley Okoye and Ga-Lim Aondofa Lord) and the university’s constituted authority predate the present event, alleging that many times in the past, the two students were found culpable of vices such as examination malpractices, drug abuse and distribution, including academic failure.
The involvement of the students in the above mentioned vices, he pointed out, led to the suspension and loss of an academic year, adding that uncooperative attitudes of the students have been of grave concern to the school authorities, particularly in the light of the institution’s responsibility to safeguard the lives of both staff and students of the institution.
Narrating the ordeal of the chief security officer of the university in the hands of the two students, Rev Nwachukwu stated that the two students were displeased with him and resorted to petitions and threats because he referred them to the disciplinary committee as required by the institution’s rules after a fighting among students.
He explained that few days later, the CSO, who was on his way back to campus from Enugu, was surprised to discover that he boarded the same bus with the two students.
According to him, sensing danger, he immediately alerted the divisional police officer of Agbani Police station and the school authorities about the development.
Rev Nwachukwu further alleged that shortly after most of the passengers disembarked from the vehicle, the students attacked the CSO, adding that the CSO had to fight back to defend himself.
He averred that injuries were sustained on both sides, saying it took the intervention of passersby to rescue the CSO. He claimed that when the two students jumped over the fence into the premises after attacking the CSO, the security department was alerted.
The cleric alleged further that the two students instead of coming the security department when asked to do so, attacked them and inflicted injuries on them, adding that the CSO and students were later taken to the Agbani Police station where they were asked to go and obtain medical treatment for the wounded first and return subsequently.
Reacting to the development, Rev Fr Isaac Iginga, who was accused of participating in the alleged torture, said he received a text message one day from the CSO alleging that they were with him in a bus and he was not comfortable. The message, he continued, came actually when he was going for evening mass, stating that he saw it one hour later.
“By the time I rushed out to find out whether the CSO was back, the seminarians working with me came to report that the CSO was badly injured and was receiving first aid in the clinic. I went there to see him and he narrated what happened. I was the person that actually organised the second head to head count on the campus just to be very sure. Even when the two students were declared missing for the avoidance of doubt, I took the pain of going from room to room and by my honour, these two boys were nowhere to be found. I had already dozed off after having a tedious day when one of the Rev Sisters working with me called that a student had called to inform her of a fight going on between some students and the security. I got into my car and drove to scene. To be honest, I met Ga-lim Aondo Lord in a fierce combat with the CSO each with a piece of metal in his hand.
“As soon as I arrived, the CSO saw me and immediately dropped his own except the student who was still yelling and pushing forward to attack. I discovered he was under the influence of alcohol as smell was oozing all over his body. I must confess the fact that I’m absolutely amazed how my picture was dragged into the whole mess.
“Apart from the fact that I am a priest, my moral upbringing as a simple ordinary Christian should prevent me from being as barbaric as I am being painted. Even if I only come across such a scenario and fail to stop those perpetuating it, I should be held responsible and my integrity should be highly questioned,” He stated.
Also narrating his ordeal, the CSO said, “When we got to a particular spot, they ordered the driver to stop but before he could do that, they opened the door and were trying to push me down. Noticing this, I held one of them (Stanley) very tight and we both fell on the road and rolled into the gutter while the vehicle was still moving. There and then, they were trying to strangle me as one of them, Gar-Lim Lord voiced it clearly, ‘CSO, your own is finished today.’ Confronted with death, I fought them back desperately with everything around me.”
The CSO said that a timely intervention only came from some passers-by, claiming that it was the only thing that helped him to escape but not without various degrees of life threatening injuries inflicted on him by the two students.
When asked why he went outside the campus, he claimed that there was an information that some students jumped out of the school, adding that they have always tried to prevent students from going out of the school premises following complaints from their host community that their mothers and daughters were being abused.
When contacted, the public relations officer of the school, Emeka Okpala, declined to comment on the development on the ground that the matter was pending in court.