A mammoth crowd had gathered at the Girls’ hostel, attempting, amid maddening noise, to drag a helpless lady towards the Students’ Union building, popularly known as SUB, in the Mini Campus of the University of Ilorin.
The mini campus, as of 1992, housed Faculties of Education, Arts and Business and Social Sciences, and clinical year of the Faculty of Medicine.
The University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital was built outside, a few metres away; from University that was sharing a compound with Kwara College of Technology. Other faculties were located in the Permanent Site, known then as PS.
As I finished the lecture of the day and was coming to relax at SUB, the agitated crowd was fuming, armed with various weapons, and had declined to disperse unless the lady that was caught stealing be beaten to a stupor or killed.
Nevertheless, about four officers of the Student Union Government rescued and shielded her. I was curious to know what the situation was as the crowd was still surging, waiting to voraciously descend on the rescued culprit.
“Who was this culprit?” I asked one of the bystanders who told me a lady from outside the university campus had gone into the girls’ hostel to steal some of their items.
Unfortunately, for the lady, she met her Waterloo, having been caught as one of the ladies was asking her a series of questions before she attempted to bolt.
Eventually, she was caught by two boys who began to lead her away from the girls’ hostel. A group of boys who were free during that time hijacked the whole incident and began to visit massive beating on the ill-fated lady.
It graduated into a mob scene as all manners of beating came crashing on her until it appeared the lady might give up the ghost. The officers began to appeal to them to allow them to ask her some probing questions, but the fuming mob refused.
The mob was hell-bent on strangulating the lady. They began to compel the officers to strip her naked. She had been reduced to shreds.
However, those officers were still pleading, having seen her suffer a hard beating, but all pleas fell on deaf hear. We, the bystanders were also appealing to the mob but they insisted, until we struggled her away, dragging her towards the porters’ lodge, inside SUB.
By the time she was taken to SUB, we smuggled her inside the office amid torrential beating after which the door was slammed against her.
While she was inside, some of us who were sympathetic to the girl were still appealing to the mob, trying to enlighten them that it would amount to jungle justice inflicting injury on her or perhaps getting her killed.
The mob was still adamant, insisting on stripping her naked, or that she be handed over to them. At this point, I was curious about why they insisted on seeing her nakedness and why they wanted her dead.
The situation got to a point when it appeared we were at our wits end having pleaded many times and over and again. It came to a point that somebody had to carry the lady up through the small window in the porters’ office so that they could see that she was almost dying.
By the time, we showed her to them, her neck had begun to dangle, for it could not stand erect again as a result of the deadly beating. She was already foaming in the mouth, and could not utter any word.
The crowd, which had thickened, saw her as she was shown on the window, but still insisted she should be handed over to them. They wanted her stripped naked. The girls at the scene were scanty, but the boys were many. The girls were shedding tears already. They wanted her freed in as much as she had taken some beating.
Those of us inside the office were racking our brains on how to let this girl escape and hand her over to the police. We started arranging for a bus that would ferry her out unscathed from the irate mob.
Gradually, the crowd had tripled, and more students were still trouping to the scene, while we were brainstorming on how she could be smuggled out of the area.
All the porters, student union officers and everybody that should help were clueless.
At last, they brought the bus, but the crowd was unsuspecting. Nobody wanted to alert them so that they won’t attack us. Inside the office, the plan was that the lady would be sandwiched between us as we file out, so that we would form a wall of defence around her. Meanwhile, we promised the crowd that we would bring the lady out, but that they should promise not to kill her.
The atmosphere was tense, everywhere charged, but the way we stormed out of the small office was as if a volcanic eruption has taken place. The whole place became rowdy almost rapidly, and the lady was sandwiched between us. We formed a watertight defence around her, while somebody grabbed and hauled her out in haste.
It was a tug of war smuggling her onto the bus because as we were going, hails of stones, clubs and other missiles were hurled and crashing at us until she was dragged into the waiting bus to be handed over to the police. None of us cared to find out if he had sustained any injury or not amid hailstones landing on us.
Those of us who couldn’t go on the bus just mingled with the mob who ran after the bus when it sped off. If the side windows or windscreen of the bus got shattered or not, we could not ascertain. We also just talked to our legs in a way that they would not be able to trace us or locate our whereabouts.
We couldn’t have returned to the campus when tension was still flaring. How the lady escaped death by the whiskers remained mysterious to us. None of us cared to find out how the police handled the rest of the matter.
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