Armed robbery is the most predominant violent crime across the country including the South Western part of Nigeria. Ogun State which houses most of the higher institutions in Nigeria, has recorded a high robbery incident rate, precisely in Remo North and Ijebu-Ode Local Government Areas. At least four attacks have been recorded in these locations, a precedent which has triggered protests by some student populace. Students, who reside in hostels distant from the main school campus, with limited access to equipped security personnel have often been primary targets of these attacks in recent times.
Factors such as low-level employment rate, socio-economic disparities, drug abuse, and cultism as well as the proliferation of arms, mostly locally made Small Arms Fire (SAFs), have increased the risk of robbery attacks in student communities. In Remo-North for example, students were victims of attacks at least three times between December 2023 and January 2024.
The assailants attack students’ hostels at midnight, mostly between 2300-0200 hrs, to reduce detection of their movements. By breaking down doors or windows, the attackers gain access to their victims’ rooms, scaring them with guns to command cooperation. Reports on open sources have also revealed that those who refuse to cooperate are assaulted and injured, and in extreme situations, killed, as was recorded on 2nd December 2023, in Sapaade, Remo North LGA.
NOTABLE ROBBERY ATTACKS
Between December 2022 to January 2024, at least twenty incidents of armed robbery were documented in Ogun State, with a high rate of casualty and loss of valuables worth millions of naira during the attacks.
On 24 October 2023, armed individuals attacked the female private hostels of the Tai Solarin University of Education in the Ijagun village in the Ijebu-Ode Local Government Area of the State and sexually assaulted at least four female students, while valuables including cash, laptops, and phones were stolen. Further information shows that an undisclosed number of students were injured during the assault.
On 2nd December 2023, incidents were documented in the Ode-Ipara and Isara communities in the Remo-North Local Government Area of the State. A student was killed, while nine others were wounded after the assailants fired gunshots during the attack. It was stated that this attack occurred four days after students protested recurrent attacks in their community. The school was reportedly closed down for two weeks following the incessant armed robbery attacks on the students.
IMPACTS ON STUDENTS
Robberies have profound and detrimental effects on students. Beyond the immediate loss of the student’s valuables, the psychological impact can be severe, leading to increased stress, anxiety, and a sense of vulnerability. The emotional toll may affect academic performance, disrupting focus and concentration. Students may also experience a decline in overall well-being, as feelings of insecurity persist. In some cases, financial strain arises from replacing stolen items, adding additional burdens.
GOVERNMENT SECURITY RESPONSE
The Public Relations Officer, SP Omolola Odutola, in a statement on 28th November 2023, announced the arrest of three suspected robbers involved in the attacks on the students. In another raid, five suspected robbers were arrested at the Oke Itoku area of Abeokuta. Two stolen vehicles were also recovered from the suspects. He further opined that a proactive operation was conducted based on intelligence, following a security meeting organized by the Commissioner of Police, CP Alamutu Abiodun Mustapha, in response to the shooting incidents at the Gateway Polytechnic.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SCHOOL AUTHORITIES
Threats in institutions of learning have lingered for years, therefore, it is expedient for schools’ management to collaborate with security operatives to enhance security presence in student residencies. Another recommendation is for schools to establish clear communication channels for students to report any suspicious activities.
Addressing the issue involves not only enhancing security measures but also providing adequate support services such as counseling to help students cope with the aftermath of such incidents.
SECURITY AWARENESS, CRIME PREVENTION STRATEGIES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STUDENTS
- Ensure proper verification of locations before renting an accommodation.
- Report suspicious movements around the residence to the appropriate authorities.
- Remain vigilant. Avoid distractions like texting or wearing headphones that can make you less aware of your surroundings.
- Students are advised to walk in groups especially at night or in unfamiliar areas whenever possible.
- Don’t leave valuable items, such as laptops, smartphones, or cash, in plain sight.
- Avoid late-night movement.
- Exercise caution, and if caught off guard, stay calm and avoid struggling with assailants.
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