Our Torture Story-Madonna Varsity Students narrate horiffic ordeal(Photo)
The duo, Stanley Okoye, 23, a final year Civil Engineering student and Ga-Lim Aondofa Lord, escaped death by the whiskers after they were allegedly abducted from their rooms February 3, 2015, in the dead of the night, in commando fashion, by the Chief Security Officer of the university, Okey Ogbonna and the Dean of Student Affairs, Rev. Fr. Isaac Nginga, a Catholic priest, in company of others and taken to a secluded area on the campus, where they were tortured, brutalized, dehumanised and left to die, but through divine intervention, they lived to tell the story.
Though they survived the ordeal, they are still undergoing treatment for the almost fatal injuries they received in the hands of their tormentors.
For instance, Stanley still needs to undergo special surgery in Germany on the spine to repair a major damage inflicted on him while the torture lasted.
Aondofa suffered a dislocated jaw that required having his jaws held together with special dental wire to allow the injury heal. The duo would for the rest of their lives bear the burden of the deep psychological scars imprinted on their minds by the experience.
Meanwhile, they are still battling to get the results of their degree examinations released. Accompanied by their parents, the victims who visited The Sun office in Onitsha gave a chilling account of what they passed through in the campus, and revealed the alleged moves by the university management to cover up the truth.
In the heartbreaking and graphic account of what happened that fateful night they were abducted, Stanley Okoye recounted that he was woken up from sleep around midnight by one Mr. Kingsley, the school’s Sub- Dean, Mr. Ola, their hall representatives, Mr. Wisdom, Mr. Somtoo and Ogbonna Okey, who is the university chief security officer (CSO), all of whom were accompanied by the Dean of Students Affairs, Rev. Fr. Isaac Nginga. He was then bundled into a Toyota 4runner SUV and taken to a bushy end of the campus where their ordeal began.
Continuing, Stanley said:
“These people were accompanied that night by an armed soldier, who is among our security guards in school. First, they asked for the room number of my friend and classmate, Lord Ga-Lim and I told them. They picked him up from his hostel and forced both of us into the vehicle. They first drove us to the administrative building and we alighted. Without any question, they descended on us after commanding us to lie down on the gravel. It was Rev. Father Isaac who hit us first with his belt, and the others then joined. They beat us with military belts, planks, batons, iron, stones and other dangerous weapons they could lay their hands on; they dealt mercilessly with us.
“All the while they were treading on us as we lay on the sharp, rough gravel. Not even our plea for mercy or cries for help could melt their hearts. Fr. Isaac even commanded the military officer to shoot us if we attempted to run away. In fact, the soldier fired the shot but narrowly missed me. I was coughing out blood and bleeding profusely but Ogbonna, the CSO hit me with his elbow and I fell down again.
“In that state, I was forced into the trunk of the Lexus SUV of Fr. Isaac; I memorized the registration number ENU 525 CP. My friend was forced into a Toyota 4Runner SUV driven by Rev. Fr. Mamah. With us in the trunk, they moved with crazy speed and even drove past the university security post without stopping. The road was very bad. Even though I was almost slipping into unconsciousness, I still heard the shrill voices of security men at the gate and flashing of lights at them telling them to stop. I later realized that the people were policemen on patrol who suspected the manner of the vehicular movement. That night, our tormentors took us to Agbani police station.
“A police officer on duty at the station asked them whether we were involved in accident but they didn’t answer. In that state, I told the police that we were attacked by the same people, who brought us to the station and the police told them to take us to a specialist hospital or else we would die but they just took us back to the campus and dumped us in the campus clinic. I was in pains and we were struggling to hang on to life. They only gave us painkillers and sleep inducing drugs. It was one of the nurses who saw our condition that night that I whispered my mother’s number into her ears and she used her phone, after hiding the number, to notify my parents about our plight.
“While we were in the hospital, they confiscated our phones, laptops and all our friends and roommates’ phones and communication gadgets to ensure that information about us did not leak to the outside community. We were dying in installments. On February 5, I was woken up by the CSO, who told me that my father was at the gate and wanted to see me. My dad was shocked when he saw my condition. When he tried to take a picture of me, they seized his camera and smashed it on the ground. After heated argument between my dad and the people at the gate, they immediately bundled my friend and myself to the Elele campus of the university in Rivers State, in the dead of the night without the knowledge of my father. We were in the hospital at Elele for about seven weeks shut out from the people and still under police watch even on our hospital bed. We underwent several surgeries because the doctor confirmed that my zygomatic bone close to the spine was fractured. My friend had fractures on the lower and upper jaws.I fainted when I saw my son –Okoye
Narrating how he heard about his son’s ordeal and the frustrations he encountered in the course of seeking justice for the victimized students, Chief Okoye told Sunday Sun that he was in Lagos when his wife called him from their Abuja home.
“My wife informed me that she received a distress call. Only God can describe the trauma we passed through that night before daybreak. I left Lagos for Enugu with first flight, abandoning all I came to do in Lagos, but I never knew that I was in for the greatest shock of my life. On getting to the school gate, I was denied entry by the security people and left stranded for four hours. When I noticed that the matter was no more a small issue not to talk of the uncertainty surrounding my son’s life, knowing that his phone was already permanently switched off, I sought for external help through the military. It was the high command at the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu that assisted me before they could allow me to enter and stay by the side of the gate while they went to fetch my son. When they brought him, I fainted, upon seeing his condition.
“After regaining composure a bit, I asked him who did that to him and he pointed out the CSO, the Rev Father and some others. I wanted to take his picture in that state for practical evidence but to my surprise, another Catholic priest named Fr. Francis, who came in from Elele, Rivers State with two police escorts ordered the security men to smash my camera which is worth N300,000 to pieces, and they did. They also threatened to shoot me if I didn’t tread with caution. After all arguments, we agreed that the children should be taken to either Enugu State University Teaching Hospital (ESUTH) or University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku Ozalla, Enugu State, but to my surprise again, as soon as I left, they bundled the children in that state to their headquarters at Elele, Rivers State.
“The children were kept incommunicado and detained in the hospital too. It was through military assistance that I was able to gain access to see them in the hospital but they refused to release them to us for proper medical care.”In the course of investigating this case, Sunday Sun also encountered another student at the Akpugo campus of the university, who was allegedly brutalized for making noise during a church service in the campus. Sunday Sun learnt that the incident also involved the CSO and the cleric in charge of student affairs. He said they used military belt to beat him, and inflicted serious injuries on him. The scars of the injuries were still visible on his face since November 2014 when the incident happened.
Stanley and Aondofa when asked by the reporter if they knew why they became targets of their torturers, they said that it was their courage to speak out against the ill-treatment of students in the institution that made them targets of threats and physical attack.
“In our school, student leaders appointed by the management take delight in maltreating other students. We are treated as second-class citizens in the university. They don’t allow us to use camera phones while our parents are barred from seeing our hostels. During accreditation by the National Universities Commission, the school management often hires qualified lecturers and professors for presentation but they leave soon after the accreditation process. In some of the cases of students maltreating their fellow students, we have risen in some instances to condemn such acts. This was what made us objects of attack by the dean and CSO. Before we were physically attacked, the dean, Father Isaac had often threatened us, saying that we would not graduate from the university,” one of the duo said.Two other students from the university who spoke on strict anonymity corroborated Stanley and Ga-Lim’s positions, saying that they live in fear of the threat of expulsion everyday on the campus.
The brutalized students are suspected cultists –PRO
When the reporter spoke to Rev. Father Isaac Nginga on phone, he said that he had no comment to make on the matter. When reminded that his submission of no comment was an indication of being guilty as charged, he still maintained that he wouldn’t say anything. But when contacted the Public Relations Officer of the university, Emeka Okpara, told Sunday Sun that Okoye and Ga-Lim were suspected cultists, who had been disturbing the peace of the university. Though he acknowledged that the injuries inflicted on the students were too much, he said it was as a result of the antecedents of the students in the university. He also punctured the claims by the students that the university lacked qualified lecturers.
His words: “The two students are suspected cultists who have been rebelling against the university. They had previously attacked the chief security officer off campus one day he rode in a public transport. Those students jumped over the school gate and entered into the town, breaking university rules. The allegation that the school hires lecturers during NUC accreditation is unfounded. Anybody who knows the calibre of the Chancellor/owner of Madonna University, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ede knows that he doesn’t compromise on quality standards. The university boasts of sound academics that can stand tall anywhere in the world. The initial plan of Fr. Ede was to build a worldclass aeronautical engineering faculty at the Akpugo campus but some powers scuttled the approval. The problem is that those children born with silver spoon don’t want to suffer while they know the rules and regulations guiding the university before they enrolled and accepted to abide by the rules.”Incensed that the university management showed no concern or even bothered to reach out to the aggrieved families of the brutalized students, who are solely bearing the spiraling cost of the victims’ medical bills, while the perpetrators of the acts have been walking about scot-free, Okoye petitioned the Commissioner of Police seeking for criminal prosecution of the alleged culprits.
Acting on the contents of the petition, and particularly moved by the pictures of the tortured state of the victims, the Commissioner of Police, after interviewing both parties and expressing serious dismay over the inhuman treatment of the students, ordered the detention of the duo of Fr. Nginga and Ogbonna Okey while others connected to the alleged crime were declared wanted.
Then on Tuesday, July 14, 2015, Nginga and Ogbonna were arraigned in an Enugu Magistrate court presided over by Nkemdilim Anibueze on a two-count charge of conspiracy and felony.
The defence counsel, Tony Muogbo, SAN represented by Mrs V.C. Okoye told the court that the defendants had applied for and were granted bail by Agbani High Court, presided over by Justice Anidi, stressing that they had met the bail conditions.