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UNILAG:BRUTAL BEATING AT UNILAG

“The guy was bleeding through his nose and right temple; his right eye and lips were swollen. Even while he was down and unconscious, the guy kept kicking him with his boots; the beating was just too much,” said Ime Etim, a final year student of the University of Lagos, describing the assault that almost resulted in the death of Jide Pinheiro, a post-graduate student of the institution.

However, the extent of damage to Mr. Pinheiro who has been in the hospital for over three weeks remains unclear. His right eye is swollen and he has trouble forming images. The result of the CT scan carried out on him has not been disclosed to him, he said, and he could only guess why.

The attack occurred on the evening of October 30 this year, near the car park of Mariere Hall. Eyewitnesses initially thought Mr. Pinheiro had died after he fell unconscious. “I was shaking where I was standing,” added Mr. Etim.

According to witnesses, Chijioke Onuoha, a 200 level student of Political Science and his friend Donald Okeke repeatedly hit Mr. Pinheiro on the head, with a brick. Although they could not confirm the reason for the attack, they heard Mr. Onuoha shouting after the incident: “No one can challenge me; there is nothing anyone can do about it, don’t you know who I am?” Mr. Pinheiro was immediately rushed to the school’s medical centre.

Three weeks have passed since Mr. Pinheiro was temporarily confined to the hospital bed. However, the students of the institution say they are yet to see any punishment meted out to the assailants, and fear that the influence of his father, a senior lecturer at the university, might be the reason.

Chijioke Onuoha, also known as C.J, is a part-time musician, and the son of Browne Onuoha, a senior lecturer at the institution’s department of Political Science, and the co-editor of Transition Politics in Nigeria.

The incident at the park

In his hospital bed, and in a barely audible voice, Mr. Pinheiro told NEXT he went to the car park to buy suya, a barbecued meat, when he saw Mr. Okeke and Mr. Onuoha approaching their car which was parked close by.

The trouble started when he overheard one of them insult a lady: “One of them said ‘get the be intimate with off the car’, I was just looking, but in my mind, I was like, ‘was that necessary?,’” said Mr. Pinheiro.

After that, the two men accused him of staring at them, and ordered him to kneel down.

He said: “It was crazy; I don’t know why they were acting like that. When I didn’t move, the other one (Mr. Okeke) started fiddling with his phone, like he was calling somebody. I was like ‘I don’t want any trouble’, but I knew what was coming when one of them pushed me.

“All I knew afterwards was waking up at the hospital. To me, it was like a split second, but obviously, it was not. I blanked out instantly, it was later that some of my friends told me he had also hit my head against the metal balustrades at the park.”

At that point, Mr. Pinheiro fell unconscious and it took him a week to remember the events of the night. Some of the witnesses who confirmed the incident said they were amazed that Mr. Pinheiro had not fought back.

“I still don’t understand why he did not even raise an arm while the beating was going on; the thing dey baffle me,” said Tunde Lawal, an eye witness.

“I witnessed from when the guy (Mr. Pinheiro) was standing tall, till he bent low, the beating continued, and till he was down,” added Mr. Etim.

However, Mr. Pinheiro said he had not defended himself because of a promise he made to himself and his grandmother.

“I have made up my mind not to be violent; once, I had a fight with the driver at home and my grandma wasn’t happy, so I promised myself not to fight anybody again,” he said.

Mr. Onuoha initially refused to speak with NEXT when contacted on the phone, “You’d have to speak to my lawyer, that’s all I’m gonna say to you,” he said.

He however admitted later that there had been a fight but that he had acted in self-defence. He claimed that Mr. Pinheiro had drawn a knife from a nearby suya seller and tried to attack him. He said Mr. Pinheiro was in his way, and had not moved when asked to move off.

“I’m not gonna give you a long story; I’d just say this: I told him to move out of the way; he refused, he pushed me and I pushed him back. He reached for the Mallam’s knife, and tried to stab me, so I defended myself. It’s as simple as that; it’s all I’m going to say to you,” he said.

In an interview with Monday, the suya seller, he denied that Mr. Pinheiro took his knife on the night, saying, “Na only this knife I get for hand, and nobody take am from me.”

Efforts to reach Chijioke’s father, Mr. Onuoha, at the Political Science department of the university were unsuccessful, as he was said to be out of the country on sabbatical.

The circumstances surrounding the attack remain unclear, but as Mr. Pinheiro continues to wait for justice, his assailant roams free.

Harris Longe, the school’s Dean of Students Affairs told NEXT that investigations are underway but that any action to be taken by the school would follow a set of procedures, as is the norm in the institution. “He’s going to face a disciplinary panel that would determine if he’s to be rusticated or expelled; there are laid down rules and regulations to that,” he said, adding that “the panel would decide how serious it is, but in this case, it is serious because he (Mr. Pinheiro) was hit on the head with an instrument; he could have died.”

He said the school cannot discipline the other assailant, Mr. Okeke, because he is not a student of the school but confirmed however, that a report has been made to the police, and he expects the victim to follow-up on it.

The victim said he will press charges as soon as leaves the hospital.



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