An 18-year-old Nigerian undergraduate, killed in Ghana over money on February 20, 2014, was no doubt one of the saddest days for the family of Mr Fred Awogbo.
Their son, Godwin Awogbo, a level 300, student of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in Central Region, Ghana, studying Social Science, was brutally murdered.
His body had been found with some of his internal organs gorged out, with his hands and legs tied. Godwin Awogbo’s lifeless body, was reportedly found on the school campus.
For days, everyone seemed to be clueless about what could have prompted such a brutal death. While the thoughts of Godwin being an ocultist came to the minds of many, his friends, however, were quick to assert that Godwin was a cool-headed person with no such connection.
It would be recalled that Godwin Awogbo’s death, made it the fourth Nigerian student to lose their life in the space of four months in Ghana.
This has not only posed the question of how safe Nigerian students are in Ghana, but it has also raised the question of how much university managements, take an interest in the well-being of their foreign students, most of whom are teenagers.
The first death case was recorded in October 2013 of a 15-year-old Nigerian, by the name Mr Austine Chukwuebuka Ogukwe, an SHS3 student of Ideal College, Community 5, in Tema, who was reported dead under the watch of his house master, amidst mysterious circumstance.
The second incident happened in November 2013, barely 26 days after the death of Augustine. Two Nigerian students, Eddy and Charles of KNUSford University in Accra, went for an excursion to the Volta region, under the guidance of school representative(s), but died when their canoe capsized.
At a meeting with the father of the victim, Mr Fred Awogbo and some of his relatives at the Nigerian High Commission, emotions flowed freely.
Mr Awogbo’s eyes were swollen, obviously due to prolonged crying. He expressed many regrets as regards why he had not listened to his late son’s proprietor, who had suggested that he should send his son to Canada to further his studies or better still, allow his son to weather the storm of strike actions often associated with Nigerian universities, than losing him in Ghana to the cold hands of death, where he thought he was safe and he would not lose him to strange culture.
Sharing how he got to know of his son’s death: “It was my wife that actually called. She received a call from the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana that our attention was needed. When I called the embassy, I was first told an incident happened in his school and my son was missing”.
I asked if there was a riot, they said ‘No’ and promised to get back to me.
“So that prompted my curiosity to find out through my contact in Ghana on what actually happened. I called the driver that I had handed over my boy to and I asked him if there was any problem in the school.
He said he was not aware of any, but promised to find out after sharing what I heard from the Nigerian High Commission’s staff.
A few minutes after, he called back to confirm that there was a problem, but he refused to say what exactly happened. Rather, he asked me to come over to Ghana.
“I was still ruminating over what could have happened to my son, when a doctor friend of mine from the northern part of Nigeria called and informed me that his wife told him of the news of my son’s death.
That was how I got to know about it. So on Monday, I left for Accra. We arrived at the Nigerian High Commission and with some of the staff of the High Commission, we went to meet the Vice Chancellor. The meeting was also witnessed by the Police and all Nigerian community leaders in Ghana.”
The Confession “At the meeting, the management asked some of his friends and roommate to say what they knew about his death. Meanwhile, while I was in Nigeria, I spoke with his roommate, a Ghanaian, who told me that my son had withdrawn some thousands of dollars meant for his school fees, but had lent the money to some students. When he requested them to pay back, they started threatening his life. It was after the threats that he heard about his death. “Unfortunately, after all of them had spoken, not even the roommate mentioned the issue of those my son lent some monies to and how they threatened him.
So, I told the school authority and the police right there to ask him to tell them how my son was threatened. It was when he started talking that we realised he (the roommate) was the one who borrowed about $4,500 from my son, thereby denying my son the opportunity of paying his school fees on time.
When my late son started worrying him, he set him up. So, after the police took my statement, they promised to arrest him.” Speaking on what kind of child his son was, he said, “My son was brought up in the church. When he was still in secondary school, he was being addressed as ‘Dr Pastor’ because he was active in church”.
Appreciating the efforts of the Nigerian High Commission, Mr Awogbo said, “The Nigeria High Commission in Ghana really surprised us with the number of effort they have put into this case.
They promised to make sure the killer is brought to book.” Mr Awogbo stressed his regret of sending his son to study in Ghana “Honestly, I regret sending my child to study in Ghana, because if he had gained admission into higher institution in Nigeria, this would not have happened.
The reason I sent him to Ghana was to avoid the issue of strike action in Nigerian institutions of higher learning. Even his mother and proprietor wanted him to go to Canada to further his studies. They really persuaded me but I said ‘No’, because I didn’t want to lose my boy.
“I have been travelling to Europe for more than 20 years and I know what happens in such developed countries. At a tender age, I thought if I sent him there, I might lose him; he might not even want to come back home. “So I decided that after he’s through with his degree, he would go and do his Masters in Canada, but here we are.” Advising parents who are yearning to send their children to Ghana to study, he said. “As for now, I cannot advise any Nigerian parent to send their children to study in Ghana; a lot of them studying here are teenagers and the stress is too much for them. Coming here myself has made me know that, in addition is the fact that the money we are paying is too much, compared to what private universities are charging in Nigeria.”