Undergraduate Students of the Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko (AAUA) in Ondo State have raised the alarm over the repeated and continuous "brutal" invasion of their hostels by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The students said they had become a subject of attack and harassment at the hands of SARS officers who now carry out "illegal arrests" on a daily basis in the student environment.
The undergraduate students noted that some of the police officers always stormed the students’ hostels at night, forcefully searching the rooms mostly belonging to the boys while also soliciting bribes.
They said it was time the Students' Union and management of the school came to their aid by ensuring maximum security of life and properties before matters get out of hand.
Many of the enraged students spoke with Sahara Reporters on Tuesday, following the reports of brutal and forceful invasion of some off-campus hostels by SARS officers.
The armed officers were said to be on desperate mission to "carry out a search" on the students' rooms around 4am while everyone was still asleep. However, sensing danger, the students refused to open their rooms for search.
It was learnt that the officers were angered by the action and broke the burglaries and doors to gain access to the rooms.
An amateur video footage obtained by SaharaReporters showed how the SARS operatives broke in and molested the AAUA students.
Speaking, Adefola Adewumi, a student of the institution, revealed that the operatives of SARS had committed lots of crimes against the undergraduate students of the university.
Miss. Adewumi said the students living off-campus were regular victims of illegal arrest, attack, molestation and harassment in the hands of the bribe-seeking armed police officers.
“The incident that happened on Monday is true but that was not the first time the policemen attacked and molested us here at the off-campus," she said.
“The SARS guys are in the habit of forcefully invading our hostels at midnight and searching for what is not lost; they would come with guns and be harassing us. Several times, they would accuse us of doing ‘yahoo Yahoo’ and be forcefully searching our laptops and phones. In fact, they would go into our rooms and search under the rugs, carpets and the ceilings.
“Whenever they did not find anything incriminating, they became aggressive and would start demanding bribes from us; if you didn’t give them, they beat, arrested and dragged you to the station."
Another student of the institution, Ifedayo Oluwasanmi, who is in 300 level, said some of the undergraduates wereliving in palpable fear in their various off-campus hostels due to repeated invasion by the armed policemen.
“Yes, it is true and it has become a recurring incident for the past three months at the off-campus hostels of the AAUA, many of us are even tired of staying outside the campus as from next session,Oluwasanmi said.
“Some of these policemen from SARS would invade your room and accuse you of smoking Indian hemp or cigarette. They would even tell you they are from Scorpion squad; some will tell you they are CP boys and have the right to search your room for exhibits.
“We have begged the management through the Students' Union to help us do something about this issue because I can’t even say we are safe any longer in our various off-campus hostels in the hands of these armed policemen.”
Olasunkanmi Oladimeji, former student of AAUA who narrated his experience to SaharaReporters, said the operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad had become the ‘bad eggs’ of the police.
“While we were still in school, we always spoke out aloud against all these forms of attack on the students and it is unfortunate that the forceful invasion on students hostel by the police continues in AAUA unabated," he said.
“I had a similar experience while I was staying at Omolayo hostel; policemen from SARS would burst into our rooms and start looking for what was not lost. They would tell you they were looking for the ‘Yahoo boys' among the students and if you dressed too flashily they would quiz or harass you. They would be asking us for money by dragging us to the ATM to withdraw money for them.'
Reacting, one of the Students' Union Government officials, who asked not to be named, told Sahara Reporters that the union had stepped into the issue.
“We are now dealing with the situation, mostly the one that occurred yesterday," he said. “We are very sad that same police that ought to protect us are the ones attacking us. The Students' Union has called for resistance of this and we shall no longer take it on our students."
All effort to reach the university’s spokesman, Mr. Sola Umoru, was unsuccessful as his mobile lines were not connecting as of the time of filing this story.
Femi Joseph, spokesma of the Ondo State Command, said the command had already ordered a “full investigation” in the case.
“The incident that happened on Monday only occurred at one of the hostels outside the school and our officers on patrol were accused of forceful invasion, attack and illegal arrest of the students," he said.
“But let me state that the incident was overblown on the social media, mostly by the students, probably to attract sympathy but we shall get to the root of the matter.
“The Commissioner of Police, Gbenga Adeyanju, has ordered a full investigation into the several cases raised by the students because it sounded embarrassing to the command that our officers forced their way to the hostels by breaking the burglary proof and window.
“The Police doesn’t condole any act or form of indiscipline among its officers and we have always been guarding against this because any of our officers found wanting would always face the music. So, if any student was attack or brutalized by the officers [SARS] during the incident, let him/her come forward to give evidence and we shall take immediate action and sanction."
the spokesman said.