By Saheed Ibrahim
The disappearance and eventual discovery of the body of a student of the Federal University of Oye Ekiti, Deborah Modupe Atanda has thrown the sleepy town of Oye and the school community into shock and mourning.
Miss Atanda, a 200-level Nursing student was initially declared missing before her lifeless body was found in a shallow grave at a distance of about 30 meters behind the Nursing Lecture Hall of the university.
The university and the FUOYE students union body in separate statements confirmed the unfortunate death of the young lady. The Ekiti State police command also confirmed in a statement by the Public Relations Officer, DSP Abutu Sunday that 10 suspects have been arrested in connection with the untimely death of Miss Atanda.
While condolences poured in to the family of Miss Atanda, the students of the university, and the school management for the unfortunate incident, it is imperative to condemn the dastardly act. No one deserves to have his/her life terminated. The death of Miss Atanda is one death too many among students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria in recent times.
Unconfirmed reports from the school showed that Miss Atanda went for a night class when she was allegedly waylaid and killed. Rumour from another quarter of the school also has it that she was last seen around noon on Monday before she went missing. There are also reports of her body parts being mutilated but the claim was debunked by the student union president, Ajayi Dotun Emmanuel.
The statement reads: “The cause of death and manner in which she died is a thing of great pain to the entire student populace in FUOYE. As we say our goodbye to a precious and bright student such as Modupe, members of the FUOYE Students Union Government (FUOYESUG) visited the morgue, and we were able to confirm that no part of her body was mutilated, contrary to claims and rumours flying around. We can confirm that not less than 12 people have been arrested in connection with the crime, and we would not rest until the perpetrators are brought to justice.”
As at the time of filing this report, the last moment and events leading to the sudden disappearance, murder, burial, and discovery of the body in a shallow grave are shrouded in mystery to the public. Many questions are begging for answers. One cannot but also question the way information around the late nursing student’s death was managed.
While the police PRO said 10 students are currently in police custody, the SUG president said “We can confirm that not less than twelve (12) people have been arrested in connection with the crime, and we would not rest until the perpetrators are brought to justice.”
Who are the suspects arrested? Unconfirmed reports from the school has it that the late Miss Atanda was killed by some bricklayers constructing some buildings in the school. The rumour hints that Miss Atanda went for night reading with a friend and they were waylaid by the bricklayers on their way but the other lady escaped.
No authoritative source related to the case has confirmed the speculations and they still remain in the realm of hearsay. Interviews with some of the students of FUOYE revealed that the majority of the students are also demanding answers.
“We are not sure what is going on or what happened. We just heard many things regarding the case,” one of the students who would prefer to remain anonymous told The Hope
Before the images of the lifeless body of Miss Atanda were shared on the internet, the school released a statement credited to the Registrar, Mr. Mufutau A. Ibrahim, entitled: “Press Release on Current Occurrence in the University”. The statement reads: “The University Management has received a report on the case of Ms Modupe Deborah Atanda who was reported missing as of Wednesday, 6th September 2023; and Management is saddened at the current turn of events.” The opening paragraph of the statement is suggestive; perhaps the school already knew her body was found on the school premises on Wednesday. The statement confirmed she was reported missing and mentioned a ‘turn of events’.
The Registrar noted that “It is pertinent to promptly inform the entire University community that immediate steps have been taken in this regard, as Security Personnel have been drafted to handle the situation. Several arrests have been made.”
The statement directed all students to vacate the school premises with immediate effect to ensure a proper, holistic, and unimpeded thorough investigation.
The major concern about the unfortunate death of the student is how she was murdered and buried right on the school premises without anyone noticing. Where were the security guards? Are there no surveillance cameras in the school? Are there no patrol teams or other security measures to guarantee the safety of students and the staff of the university while on campus?
Answers to these questions will show how safe or unsafe and ill-equipped Nigerian public universities are. Parts of the agitations of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have been funding for the revitalization of public universities and twenty-six percent budgetary allocation to the education sector.
If FUOYE as a public university was equipped with modern security facilities and other facilities to run a 21st century University, the death of Miss Deborah Atanda might be avoidable.
The students, the school authority and the general public are calling for a thorough investigation into the unfortunate incident.