By Chidi Nkwopara, OWERRI.
It is no longer news that some students of two tertiary institutions in Imo State, the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, FUTO, and Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, FEDPONEK, died in harrowing circumstances.
The deceased youngsters were not only accused of allegedly taking tramadol and Indian hemp to enhance their sexual capability and vitality, but were equally suspected to have engaged in sex romp.
The two dead students and the one in deep coma, were picked up at the Sunshine Castle Hostel, Ihiagwa, Owerri West Local Council Area of the state, by operatives of Imo State Police Command, soon after they were contacted.
Although the dead or comatose students were identified as Ugochukwu Kingsley, Richard, Aka Uche and Onyinyechi Okafor, it was still not clear before going to press, where they hailed from or where their parents reside.
Another twist in the matter is that while tthe management of FUTO has finally confirmed that the three students, who died in the tragic incident were their students, the management of FEDPONEK distanced itself from the girl at the centre of the sex and drug story.
FUTO’s Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Uche Nwelue, told reporters that after investigation, the University was able to identify three of the victims as its students.
The University’s spokesperson said: “I can confirm that the three boys, who allegedly took part in the alleged sex incident and drug overdose, were students of the University.
“The only female among them is not our student. It is believed that she is from the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede. That is the true situation of things as it concerns the studentship of the victims.”
Asked what the University would do, since it has confirmed that three out of the four students were from the institution, Nwelue said: “The University is actually handicapped as it relates to this matter. The incident happened outside the University campus. We do not have control over their lifestyle outside the campus. Moreover, the school has rules and regulations guiding every student here.
“If any of them breaks it, we will punish him/her once he/she comes back to school. But beyond this, parents should watch their children and encourage them to live in hostels on the campus. It will make them to be more serious and dedicated to their studies.”
Addressing FUTO matriculating students and their parents last Friday, the Vice Chancellor, VC, Professor Francis Chukwuemeka Eze, described the recent drug-related incident, involving three of it’s students as “regrettable and unfortunate”.
“The ugly incident is un-FUTOlike. As a management, we are increasing our efforts to sensitize students on the dangers of drug abuse, cultism and promiscuous lifestyle”, Eze said.
He disclosed that FUTO is partnering with a number of bodies to assist in regular interactions with students, especially new students, to ensure that peer-group influence does not corrupt good students, while the ideals and benefits of moral rectitude, will be inculcated in others.
“I urge our parents and guardians to warn their children and wards, to desist from activities that can lead to their being either rusticated or expelled from the University. Parents and guardians should monitor where their children and wards live,as well as visit them unannounced, from time to time, to ensure they do not go astray”, Professor Eze pleaded.
According to the VC, “our primary mandate is to train and mould students with skills and knowledge required to lead the country’s technological growth and development”, adding that management has continued to make provision for municipal services such as power, water, campus shuttle, sanitation and other facilities for effective teaching and learning.
“We will continue to provide facilities for our students within available resources. More students’ hostels have been completed and ready for allocation to students. The hostels were donated by the Federal Government under the NEEDS Assessment Programme”, the VC said.
In his own reaction, the Rector of FEDPONEK, Rev. Dr. Michael Arimanwa, debunked the allegation that the girl in question, is a student under his care.
Addressing journalists on the issue, Arimanwa explained that a bona fide student of any institution is known through the the person’s matriculation number, stressing that there was nothing linking the girl in question with FEDPONEK.
Continuing, the Rector said that the Polytechnic management has painstakingly gone through it’s record and found nothing to show that the girl is a student of the institution.
He appealed to media organizations to refrain from publishing what they are not sure of.
The Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Rabiu Ladodo, told newsmen in Owerri that according to the briefs he received: “Three men and one female were involved in taking Indian hemp. Two were said to have died initially. The other two were hospitalized. I was also told that one out of the two hospitalized have also died. Remaining only one person, a female, that is the report I received.”
Ladodo went further to advice parents to look after their children, even as they are in school.
“I also call on landlords to be security conscious, as well as know the type of people they allow to be their tenants”, Ladodo said.
Curiously, even some fellow students were at a loss as to what actually happened.
However, information available suggest that the students allegedly took a cocktail of narcotic substances chiefly tramadol, codeine along with Indian hemp and alcohol. Whereas details of the outcome of investigation were yet to be released as at the time of going to press, Sunday Vanguard discovered that some students are now in the habit of combining two or more narcotic substances with a view to becoming ‘high’ – a word used to describe someone under the influence of drugs .
Among many of the students spoken to, the latter aim may have been the cause of the death of the students.