The atmosphere was that of stark fear, and unreserved excitement at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK) in Awka, the Anambra State capital, last Saturday when a python was killed in an uncompleted building close to a male hall of residence. Being a weekend, majority of the students had gone out for extra-curricula activities; some chose to play football; others engaged in other games.
Few minutes past 9am, an unidentified man raised the alarm on sighting the python. Those in their hostels thought it was a joke, until the python crawled out of the building. Students ran helter skelter on seeing it. A local hunter, who lives in the building, chased the python with a cutlass, battling it for several minutes before overpowering it.
Students, who watched the scene from a distance, were stunned by his bravery. The brave among them joined the hunter to kill the python.
The students took the lifeless animal round the campus in a triumphant mood. As they went round, some students, out of fear that the python may come back to life, pulled back.
Reliving the incident, the hunter, who simply gave his name as Okey, said he found the python when he heard a strange noise in the building.
He said: “Out of curiosity, I moved round the building to know what was happening. I initially thought somebody was held in captivity within the building. But, what I saw was beyond my imagination. I saw the snake folded at a corner of a room. I quickly fetched my cutlass and an iron rod and moved to attack it before the students joined in killing it.”
The students wondered how the animal got into the campus.
A student, who gave his name as Iyke, compared the scenario to a “movie scene”. He said: “I was playing football with other mates as we do every weekend when we heard people shouting, “python”, “python”, “python”. We left the field to see what was going on and what we saw shocked us. It was like a scene in a movie. I never saw a snake as big and long as this. The length of the snake frightened other students, who ran away. We discovered that the hunter had already overpowered the python. We joined in killing the snake.”
Another student, Ebuka Ezeah, said: “When the hunter raised the alarm about the python, some brave students rushed to the scene with stones and sticks. They hurled stones at the snake, killing it on the spot.”
The students turned it all into a carnival, celebrating the python’s death. They sang and danced, carrying the python from one hostel to another and to various departments.
There was a drama when the school security officers came to the hostel and attempted to remove the python. But the students resisted, chanting: “bring back our snake”. The snake was returned to the hunter.
Some of the students, who spoke, called on the school management to ensure that their safety on campus.
One of them, Chuks Okafor, said: “This is not the first time we are experiencing something like this on the campus. The killing of two alligators in the hostel is still fresh in our memory. The management may have done well in protecting students against criminals; it is not just about crime. We need to be protected from dangerous animals. I expect the school management to do something about this latest python invasion.”