OAU Student Cries Out Over Inhuman Treatment Of Suspected Thief
‘Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t’-------Margaret Thatcher
Of the greatest Ife! It was with a melancholic state of heart that I picked my aluta pen and revolutionary note to challenge the audacity of some microscopic few who wallow in stupor because they are drunk on power and cannot prevent its effect on them; they stagger. These are men that have refused to grow out of the state of nature, which Thomas Hobbes described as short, brutish and nasty. They are the thieves who accuse the farm owner before he accuses them of theft. Before they got to the top, they knelt, kneeled and bent in order to get our votes. When they ascended the ladder, they became harbingers of doom. These men are those who emerged as members of the Awolowo Hall Executives with Apoel Gideon as the master planner of evil and unscrupulous acts.
THE EVENTOn the afternoon of Saturday, 25th January 2015, Apoel Gideon, a part four student of law and the So called Secretary-General of Awolowo Hall, came to Awo block 4, room 108 to apprehend a student whom he claimed was a suspected thief (as at this time, I was not in the room). When I got to the room, I was informed about the incidence and I went straight to Gideon’s room where I met a moderation panel made up of Gideon, the Awo hall Chairman and one other student. I met the accused person in their midst being interrogated. I was impressed with the scene because it appeared to be a just moderation. I questioned the young man to know his level of guilt and I discovered that the incidence for which he was accused took place around 5:00 am, a time which I am sure the young man was still asleep on the said date of theft. Having satisfied that the accused person was innocent, I left the panel to their investigation with the statement, ‘I believe you are capable of making your finding’. I returned in less than thirty minutes only to find the accused person in unbearable pains and discomfort. As at then, the accused could not open one of his eyes. I told the panel that the system of moderation was barbaric, crude and a good description of jungle justice. Above all, this system of moderation is contrary to Section 36(5) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which states:
‘Every person who is charge with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty’.
This is also inconsistent with the provisions of Section 34(1)(a) of the Nigerian constitution which states:
‘Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly- no one shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment’
When asked for the reason for beating the accused person blue and black, the moderators claimed that he was guilty because he did not answer many of their questions and when he did, his statements were incoherent. I am not in support of not being able to hold on to one’s statement but am sure that this does not justify their illegal and degrading acts. Section 35(2) CFRN provides that:
‘Any person who is arrested or detained shall have the right to remain silent or avoid answering any question until after consultation with a legal practitioner or any other person of his choice’.
This section of the constitution explains that being silent when being questioned is supported by the law. On the issue of incoherent statement, it is clear that a person under duress is likely to say whatever he does not want to say as a result of fear or psychological effect of force or accusation.
THE CLAIMIt was recorded that Angola block J, room 108 was burgled by some avaricious students with kleptomaniac fingers on November 18, 2014. As claimed, five phones were stolen and this resulted in pains for the owners of the stolen items. One of these phones is a Blackberry Q10 which is very expensive and smart. The case was reported to the Secretary-General of Awo Hall before the end of last year and he claimed to start his investigation immediately. He claimed that he concluded his investigations before he came to arrest the accused. As a reasonable person, I asked to know the evidence to make the accused person culpable and he presented the evidence.
THE EVIDENCEAt first, only one evidence was brought against the accused person and that was what the childish and ignorant moderation was based on. When it finally occurred that they were fighting a lost battle, more evidence came up. I will list the evidence and try as much as possible to explain their relevance.
#Device Synchronization: The principal item that was stolen was a Blackberry10. The owner claimed that he synchronized his Twitter account with his Facebook account. The implication of this is that whichever account is logged into his facebook will appear on his Twitter timeline. He claimed that he logged into his Twitter account some days after the incidence and noticed that a Facebook account was connected to his Twitter. In anxiety, he went into the person’s profile, copied his name and saved some of his pictures. It was also claimed that two of his friends were there as witnesses to the event. As a person who had so many followers on Twitter, the phone owner thought it was wise to disconnect the two accounts immediately. The question to ask is ‘how did the accused person’s Facebook account linked with the Twitter account of the phone owner?
#Phone Tracker: The owner of the Blackberry phone also claimed that he and a number of people attempted to track the stolen phone with an application on the phone. According to him, he traced the phone to Awo Hall and the signal showed that the phone was at a place between a yellow building and annex.
#The female disguise: The owner of the Blackberry also claimed to have given the number he copied from the detected Facebook account to a lady in order that the lady might entice the thief with a beautiful pictures on whatsapp. The lady tried her best but the claimed thief did not yield to her proposal of dating.
THE PROBLEMS WITH THE EVIDENCEWhoever looks at these pieces of evidence would be amazed at the brilliant job done by the owners of the stolen properties and the moderators of the case. Alas, a critical observation would reveal the errors embedded. Since I was awake before 3:00 am on the said date of theft, I am sure every roommate of mine was asleep and none left the room before 7:00 am. I woke the accused person from sleep around some minutes to 8am so that he would go to work on time. Let us take time to look at these:
#Phone Synchronization and the Facebook account: The computer is programmed in a way to display human follies. Computer experts at times usually make some mistakes in handling various gadgets. The accused was busy with designs of induction notepads for the November 27 induction of medical students. Since the printer is in Ibadan, he had to use internet facilities to send the designs to the printer. In the process, he visited Cybernet cafe in Awo hall to send the designs. As regular users of the internet, we all know that we are usually tempted to connect to Facebook to check status updates of friend. While connected to Facebook, the time expired and he left without logging out. I believe we all know how Facebook works. The person who claimed to detect the thief through his Twitter account logged into Twitter in the same cafe (he confirmed this several times during interrogation) and connected to Facebook. Familiarity with social media will reveal to us that the account that would be displayed is the one that was not logged out from the server. That was why the Twitter account connected with the accused person’s Facebook account which was not apparently logged out.
It was claimed that the Blackberry owner used the cafe to detect this around December 7, 2014 and the system would have been restarted before then and this would not allow an account on any server. There is a lie in this claim of lapse of time. Who on earth would not try to look for a Q10 Blackberry from November 18 to December 7? It simply means that the owner definitely used the cafe earlier than he claimed, even on the said date. How am I sure of this? The lady that was used to trail the accuse started to engage him in a chat via whatsapp in November. I got to know this because the accused informed me that a lady was disturbing him on whatsapp. I copied the lady’s phone number and I engaged the lady in a chat on December 5. This was after he had disturbed the accused for not less than four days. This means that the latest time the lady could have started a chat with the accuse was between 27 and 28 November when the phone was stolen (for proof of my chat with the lady, come Awo block 4, room 108 and ask for Taiwo or Afreeka). It shows that the owner of the lost phone logged into Twitter account on the same system that contained the accused person’s Facebook account that was not logged out. It is very much possible to access the page of an account that was not logged out before the expiration of time. If the phone owner is not trying to cover up for the wrong moderation of the Awo hall executives, why did he say he used the cafe a long time after the accused person had used it when he actually used it the day the phone was stolen? If you want to confirm how you can connect your Twitter account to a facebook account that was not logged out of a system, please visit me in the room I gave earlier.
#The Pictures that were saved: The one who claimed to detect the thief saved some of the pictures of the accused from Facebook and presented them to the lawless moderators who failed to apply any reasonability test because they wanted to appear as champions who know how to figure out thieves in order to come out victorious in subsequent elections. When the accuser was asked to produce the pictures he saved, he showed some pictures and he claimed they were uploaded via Blackberry. We logged into the accused person’s account in his presence and we saw that the picture he specified was uploaded on September 10. None of the pictures he provided was uploaded via Blackberry as he claimed. This means that he only went into the accused person uploaded pictures to lay charges on him thinking he was the thief. This was only possible because he thought the account he saw was connected to his Twitter. To corroborate this, we asked the accuser to log into his Twitter account so that we could see his activity log if it contains any info that connects him to the accused person. He did not do this with the claim that he has too many tweets and would not waste his time going through them. Another way to know if the accused actually used the stolen phone was to check all the devices he has ever used to connect to Facebook. This will show us all the platforms the accused has used to log into Facebook. The Chief Moderator, Gideon claimed that this would only prolong the matter and would not proffer a lasting solution. I am sure this is definitely to cover up for their failures to carry out proper investigation before lynching an innocent person. This has become very common in Awo hall. This barbaric act also took place on January 23, 2015 where an innocent victim was beaten and battered in block 8 before it was discovered that he was innocent. This foolishness must stop because we do not know the next innocent victim to suffer from this manifestation of the life in the state of nature.
#The moderators also had incoherent statements: The accused was said to be beaten at first for incoherent statement. Unfortunately, I also got the moderators for the same fault. The theft issue took place on November 18 and was reported to Apoel Gideon. When speaking with the Awo hall chairman, he said he was in Lagos when the case was reported and he only got the fact when he returned later (I can’t remember if he said he returned on the following day or after some days). Now see, the accuser said he showed two of his friends the details of the detected account and revoke the access to his Twitter account immediately. When confronting the hall chair with the evidence to show that the link was as a result of failure to log out from a system he used and that they acted on an evidence they did not verify, he said the access to the account was revoked in his presence. Don’t forget that the accuser said that the access was revoked immediately he detected the connection and that the hall chairman was not even in Ife when the case was reported to Gideon. How then was the connection revoked in his presence? Why were the statements incoherent if not that the hall chairman was trying to cover up the error of the moderators?
#The tracker that was used: The accuser claimed that he used an app to detect the phone in Awo hall. He claimed that the tracker showed that the phone was somewhere between a yellow block and Awo annex. We all know that the blocks facing Awo annex are block 1 and 2. If the phone was in block 1 or 2, why would someone in block 4 be in possession as at the said time? If it was possible to trace the phone to that extent, why not continue the tracing till the particular place it was? A tracker can lead you from here to Lagos by just following the pointer. Why not continue to follow the pointer to the particular room where the phone was?
#The claim that accuser failed a four unit course because his phone was stolen and that the accuser should be held responsible: The owner of the Q10 claimed he had register for UTME because he failed CHM 101 and other courses. One other person whose phone was stolen claimed he failed a lot of courses and would register for UTME on Monday, January 26. As a law student, I have been taught to listen when someone speaks and to pay attention to all details. I have been taught to make findings. In my further investigation, I discovered that the CHM 101 which the accuser claimed to have failed was not out as at the date of the moderation, January 24 and 25. The first science results was CHM 107, a one unit course which was released on Monday 26th January. Their failure was a major reason which they were allowed to lynch an innocent victim without control.
#Going voodoo: During the beating spree called moderation, Gideon (after hitting the accused person’s head on the strong Awo wall severally, having broken bottle on the floor and forced the accused person to lay on it as if it was a comfortable water bed) seemed to realize that he had dealt with a wrong person. In order to satisfy himself, he brought out a particular object to the accused person and said ‘ifa ki n puro, opele ki n seke’ meaning ‘the god of divination does not tell lies and the oracle does not deceive’. Having said this, he ordered the accused person to confess but he said he was innocent. I can never be sure but something tells me that this further convinced Gideon that the accused was innocent. We all know that it is impossible to accept the innocence because he knew the extent to which the accused had been beaten and its implication. The question would then be ‘what is Gideon’s vested interest in the case?’
WHY THE MODERATORS WOULD NOT LET GOA reasonable person would want to know why Gideon would want to support the accusers. The answer is not farfetched. It is apparent that Gideon and his team members had the gut to beat the accused person because they thought they had enough evidence to crucify him. The beating was so much that the accused person could not see with one of his eyes for two days. The beating was so much that none of the four hospitals we visited agreed to treat the victim. What a pity that the vulnerable are usually cheated for what they know nothing about! When the counter evidence showed that the accuser and the moderators jumped the gun and had made a mistake in their findings, it was not a good thing for them to accept their fault because they knew that people would take the issue up. This would also reveal the weakness of those that constitute the hall executive. This would reduce people’s trust in their moderation. They had to hold on tenaciously to their claim that the accused person was guilty because their integrity was about to be questioned. The only way to resolve the matter and still protect their integrity was to act as if they were doing the accused person a favour by begging the accusers on his behalf.
HOW THE CASE WAS FAINTLY RESOLVEDAfter the accused person had been beaten blue black, all parties concerned were called upon. There were three people from the accusing side and five people defending the accused person. Questions were raised and answers were given. At the end, the issue was not resolved based on evidence (after the accused person had been beaten mercilessly on a baseless evidence) because the moderators had something to protect – their offices and integrity. Gideon said the two parties should forget the issue on amicable terms to let peace reign. Let me reveal the truth behind that kind of terms. They wanted the case to end in a way that nobody would latter accuse Gideon and other moderators of beating up an innocent person. Gideon immediately told the phone owners to forget about their stolen items at that spot and they agreed (people who already threatened to collect one hundred thousand for the phones and even threatened to kill the accused). Is that how easy to forget about phones worth one hundred thousand naira? It left me with the belief that the moderators and the accusers already knew from facts that they picked up the wrong person and later discovered this. They had to look for a wise way to end the matter. The only way was to make it appear to the accused person that he was receiving a favour from them by not being asked to pay for the stolen items (items he did not steal). I have dealt with people who are more cunning and intelligent than they are; I know how to follow events, details and attitude.
MY POSITIONThe case was brought to an abrupt end but I have reasons to question the authority of students to beat up fellow students in the name of moderations. We say it is our tradition! What tradition allows the exploitation of innocent people? What tradition allows man inhumanity to man? What tradition allows my age mate or someone probably younger than I am to beat me up for what I know nothing about? What tradition would paint the society as barbaric and the people in it as uncivilized? What tradition should be repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience? Do we not know that a bad law is no law at all and a bad tradition is no tradition at all? Why would a number of students deliberately and consciously kick the national constitution in the face? Are we not supposed to be Intellectual Fighters for Emancipation (IFE)? Must this campus remain a place where the power drunk test the potency of their ill-acquired powers? For how long shall we fold our arms and watch this evil continue? This madness must stop! This barbaric attitude must be challenged! These enemies of natural justice must realize their follies! Why would someone moderating a case be drunk on alcohol (regal gin)! We can’t take it any longer! We are tired of living with fear of implication and unjustifiable punishments. Are these the leaders of tomorrow?
Let me bring this to an end with the words of Buckminster Fuller:
‘Those who play with the devil’s toys will be brought by
degrees to wield his sword’.
AFREEKA(I am not a contestant for any political position but an advocate of justice and legality)
PLEASE NOTE ESTEEMED READERS, as at the time of this article receipt, our own journalists in collaboration with the Press Team of Association of Campus Journalists(ACJ) have started making findings to ascertain to a reasonable height what actually went wrong. We will continually update you on the case as events unfold.