Students now carry guns for protection

Have you been to Nigeria lately? Share any experiences of burgelaries, armed robberies, fraud, etc.

Students now carry guns for protection

Postby Richard Akindele » Thu Aug 17, 2006 5:13 pm

If any proof was needed that some of the country's institutions of higher learning have become dens of armed criminals, the capture, the other day, of 126 students who were travelling with weapons is one.

Not long ago, an upset Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Sunday Ehindero, paraded 64 students of Auchi Polytechnic in Edo State and 62 from Federal Polytechnic, Offa in Kwara State along with one double-barrel shot gun, 13 locally-made pistols and 33 catridges recovered from them. That was in addition to an earlier arrest of six students in Oshogbo, Osun State for possession of six pistols and 30 kilogrammes of drugs suspected to be cannabis.

Even more troubling than these is the effrontry with which the supposed future leaders of the nation have carried on. Some of them have completely lost touch with societal ethics, as indicated by the suspects' response to the charge of illegal possession of arms. "We were arrested in Onitsha. We were going for national students convention 2006. Yes, 13 arms and one double-barrel gun were recovered from us. But we were using them as protection," they defiantly told their stunned audience. Although there is a general disenchantment with the security apparatus in the country, the thought of youths, who should be studying, carrying weapons instead, ostensibly to protect themselves, is horrifying.

This scenario advertises the degradation of social values in Nigeria today. It questions the quality of upbringing and environmental factors that have produced the students. As things are, only painstaking measures can reverse the erosion of moral values, especially among youths, as many of them, including those in secondary schools, have embraced cultism, gangsterism and other vices.

The IGP has already confirmed this enigmatic situation. His words: "This is really alarming. It is worrisome that students now carry pistols, dangerous weapons and commit crimes while their parents are not expressing worry. We can't fold our arms and allow this to continue.We are not going to spare any student caught with arms."

But, for desirable results to be achieved, apart from tackling the psychological causes of the problem, the sources of these ammunition should be identified and blocked.

In that regard. the IGP's assertion that "students might have become recruits for political violence" should not end as mere rhetoric. Decisive actions should follow immediately. The police should hunt down these unscrupulous patrons now in order to reduce the risk of violent elections next year.

Besides the domestic fabrication of guns, the militarised profile of many parts of West Africa, occasioned by its numerous conflicts, leaves room for large-scale availability of illegal arms. Border and sales points should, therefore, be constantly monitored to prevent importation and distribution of unauthorised firearms.

But while it is tactically important to break this network of evil, it is equally vital not to ignore the fundamental issue of poverty alleviation. Although wealth is not necessarily an antidote to acts of criminality, many have been driven to the nefarious trade by poverty. As part of the effort to stamp out crime of the violent hue, government needs therefore to address the issue of widespread poverty.

This Day.
Richard Akindele
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