Fear grips students, staff of Nigerian university over strange signs

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Staff and students of Usmanu Dan Fodio University, Sokoto (UDUS), Sokoto State, recently woke up to see strange signs posted in strategic locations within the campus, sparking fear of impending attacks by suspected cultists.

The signs, which have bended cross and four arrow heads painted with red ink, are posted on walls and boards around the campus, especially within the hostels’ area and the mini market within the area.

But the university management has denied the link between the strange signs and secret cultism, saying it had investigated all the logos and signs of secret cultism in Nigeria with none sharing such identity.

The university’s dean of students’ affairs, Aminu Mode, told PREMIUM TIMES that students and staff should nurse no fear of molestation or harassment.

Narratives

A female student who identified herself simply as Fatima said she left her ‘I Block’ hostel very early in the morning for a test scheduled for 8:30a.m but that as soon as she stepped out of her hostel room, she noticed a strange sign on the hostel wall, which she had never seen there.

“I didn’t give it much attention until I realised it was all over the school,” she said.

Like Fatima, other students confirmed that they woke to the yet-to-be understood signs all over the school on Thursday morning.

Those who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES said apart from the hostel and the mini market, the signs are also conspicuously posted around a youth centre on the campus, which is popularly called IBB centre, and that they could also be found around the ICT centre and lecture halls.

A student who does not want to be quoted for fear of attacks, said he did not regard the signs as a coincidence “because of its multiplicity.”

“I want to believe that it is strategic. I think It is not done by one person because it is all in the nook and crannies of the school,” the source said.

Fears

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that as a result of the signs students who used to read at the popular ETF 3 lecture hall in the night have deserted the hall and others around it.

“The truth is that a lot of people didn’t read yesterday at the hall. That’s just the fact. Even me, I usually read in the night from around 7p.m to 12 midnight but I didn’t read yesterday. I went back home because many of us were terrified. We don’t know what the sign means and also nobody has claimed responsibility for it and nobody is being fingered for now,” one of the students said.

Meanwhile, some students who spoke with this newspaper, said a few days before the strange signs “sprouted” on the campus, a yet-to-be-identified individual shot a banger (firecracker) the lecture hall forcing students to flee the hall with some of them sustaining various degrees of injuries.

“Somebody threw a banger inside the ETF3 and a lot of students assumed the sound of the banger was the sound of a gun. Unfortunately, the hall only has one exit door” a witness who craved anonymity, said.

“No one can tell who did that but it was very unfortunate.” the witness added.

Strange signs spotted at the Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.
Strange signs spotted at the Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.

Corroborating the account was a writer’s diary penned by a student-journalist who got injured at the scene.

According to the article titled “Writer’s Diary: How I Was Wounded at ETF3 Because of Banger Sound” and published by The News Digest Press on the campus, the stampede was caused because only one of the four entry doors of the hall was open.

“There are four entrances into ETF3 but only one was open since the beginning of this semester. So, everyone would have to aim at that single exit. It was a moment of struggle for survival. But before we all understood that it was someone who lit and threw a banger inside the class, I had already sustained a wound on my leg. We tried to get hold of the person but unfortunately, we couldn’t find him,” the writer, with a pen name as Hassan Eleboade, wrote.

Mr Eleboade said he later found out he wasn’t the only injured person “when I saw a lady at

the clinic who also got injured in her hand and leg.”

University management speaks

Although the signs have not been linked to any group, some students who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES feared that it could be an emergence of cultists in the school.

However, the dean, students’ affairs of the institution, Mr Mode, dismissed the suggestions that it could be the handiwork of cultists

He told PREMIUM TIMES that the school has compared the signs with the emblems of all cult groups in the country and that it did not match any.

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“We investigated all the cult signs in Nigeria and there are no signs that look like that one,”Mr Mode told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview.

Mr Mode assured that the students are safe, saying “we are very much aware and we are investigating,” insisting that “no student is scared in my university”.

The chairman of the caretaker committee of the university’s students’ union, Ibrahim Khalifa, has also urged students to remain calm and disregard any misleading information.

“The University management’s ears are always on ground and relentlessly vigilant 24-7,” he said in a statement, adding that “students are advised to disregard any misleading information pertaining the issue of these signs and what they mean.”

About UDUS

Established in 1975, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, was one of the seven second generation universities established between 1975 and 1980.

Others include the University of Calabar, University of Ilorin, University of Jos, University of Maiduguri, University of Port Harcourt, and Ado Bayero University, Kano.

Unlike many other Nigerian universities where activities of cultists are common, UDUS prides itself as a peaceful institution, and adapts the slogan; “The most peaceful university in Nigeria.”

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