Nigeria- University cults on rampage

John Abayomi 

Nigeria: SUSPECTED cultists,weekend, set off an explosive device at the Delta State University, DELSU, Abraka, Delta State, but missed their target, a lecturer in the institution, Dr. Paul Okumagba, while militants in Bayelsa State attacked men of the Joint Task Force, JTF, on the Niger-Delta who were guarding the premises of a construction firm, Setraco. One of the gunmen was killed by the JTF troops while three others fled for their lives, abandoning

their weapons, which were later recovered by the soldiers.

Delta State Police Public Relations Officer, Charles Muka, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) confirmed the DELSU explosion, saying the police were already investigating the incident.

Sunday Vanguard learnt that Dr. Okumagba is the head of Department of Sociology of the university and also director of the Weekend Degree programme of DELSU. The device was planted in his car park at his official residence on the university campus.

But unknown to those who planned to kill him, he was out of town at the time they thought he would be in the garage washing his car. The device was planted at the driver side of his car.

The explosion shook the university community, as people ran helter-skelter thinking that militants had invaded the university.  A source said the earth shook beneath the surrounding compounds in  the radius of about 350 metres.

Mrs. Faith Okumagba, wife of Dr. Okumagba, who said she was yet to recover from the shock of the incident, said: “The explosion raised the official car to a height before smashing same on the ground with a thud that tore open the ground. The electrical bulbs and fittings in the building were all destroyed.”

Before carrying out the operation, the gangsters cut electricity supply to the apartment a night before the early morning explosion to keep eyes away when planting the bomb besides the car.

 Mrs. Okumagba said her husband routinely washes his car at the time the bomb exploded, saying she was not aware of any problem her husband has with people other than his principled stand against examination malpractice for which he has had threats from several quarters.

“My husband is a very principled person who loves his job and does it with passion. I can’t stop him from doing his job which is getting risky but I know he is fighting the cause of the school and nation. I know that the respect certificates from DELSU are now enjoying is largely because of the principled stand against exam fraud by people like my husband. I will continue to pray with my neighbours to God who alone can truly protect”, Mrs. Okumagba said.

 Efforts to reach the chief security officer of DELSU failed but security sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said apart from key officials of the university, Dr. Okumagba’s residence and several others, are not covered by security attention even as the only suspect of the crime seen racing through the nearby football field, shouting “we have done it” could not be apprehended by patrolling security personnel.

Sources, however, said the bomb explosion might not be unconnected with an ongoing cults clash between the Buccaneers and the Vikings confraternities. Sunday Vanguard could not authenticate the cult angle to the explosion.  

A neighbour of the Okumagbas, Mrs. Teena Ugbomeh said it was God that intervened and saved the situation, if not, the destruction would have been enormous.

Coordinator of the Joint Media Campaign Centre of the JTF, Colonel Rabe Abubakar who also confirmed the Yenagoa attack on soldiers said, “four armed men suspected to be militants, attacked men of the Joint Task Force (JTF), code named ‘OPERATION RESTORE HOPE’, who were guarding SETRACO a construction firm at Akali Street in Yenogoa, with a view of snatching their rifles and disarming them at about 1:35am on April 3, since the illegal bunkering business has been blocked, which they used in purchasing arms and ammunition.

“The miscreants who met their waterloo were successfully rebuffed as the men of the JTF were on alert, and in the process of defending ourselves, led to a serious exchange of fire between own troops and the armed hoodlums, along the line one of them was killed while the three others escaped with various degrees of injuries. One revolver pistol and 2 x 9mm was recovered, meanwhile the deceased and the items recovered have been handed over to the police Command, Yenogoa.  No casualty on own troops”, he said.

The coordinator stated that it was unfortunate that while the JTF was trying to renew relationships with the citizens of the oil rich region, some self -centered individuals are out to ensure that the relationship reaches an all time low.

Colonel Abubakar further stated that the JTF was committed to its mandate of restoring peace and security in the region so that social and economic activities would strive, adding, “ That notwithstanding,  the Task Force would not be intimidated in carrying out its mandated duty no matter the gimmick the hoodlums may come up with.  He appealed to innocent citizens to go about their normal and legal businesses as the security outfit is capable more than ever before in defending the citizenry and foreign friends”