Screengrab from the video posted on YouTube. 
Four students from the University of Port Harcourt, in southern Nigeria, were burned alive Friday by locals who accused them of being thieves. A horrific video of the scene has since surfaced online, angering their classmates, some of whom reportedly decided to get revenge by setting fire to the part of town where the young men were killed.
According to the Nigerian press, the four killed students were second-year undergraduates whom local residents in the Aluu neighbourhood of Port Harcourt accused of stealing a laptop computer and a Blackberry phone. A friend of the victims, meanwhile, told the BBC that they had gone to Aluu to try to collect money they were owed, and were mistaken for thieves.
The three-and-a-half minute video, which the police are using as part of their investigation, shows four young men lying on the ground, completely naked, with tyres around their necks. An angry mob beats them with sticks before setting them on fire. FRANCE 24 decided not to post the video here due to the highly disturbing nature of the images.
On Sunday, police arrested 13 people in connection with the case. However, this was not enough to calm Port Harcourt university students, who held a protest on Tuesday, blocking major roads on the edges of the university. Some reportedly turned to violence and set shops, houses and cars on fire in Aluu, which is adjacent to the campus, prompting many residents to flee. On Tuesday, the university closed its doors indefinitely. According to several of our sources, who preferred to stay anonymous out of fear for their safety, there have long been class tensions between the residents of Aluu and the university's students, who come from around the country and are generally wealthier. 
This violence follows the killing of at least two dozen students at another Nigerian university, this time in the north of the country, earlier this month.
Editorials published by several Nigerian news organisations – as well as this petition – are now calling on the government to strengthen the police force and to mete harsh punishment to perpetrators of mob lynching, which they say is common but rarely caught on video.

“It’s not safe here anymore”

Robert (not his real name) is a student at Port Harcourt University. He also participated in Tuesday’s protest.
After seeing the video of this inhuman act, students couldn’t just sit back and do nothing, so student leaders led a protest of thousands. It was peaceful, not a riot, but some other students who were highly annoyed at the situation went and burnt down houses in Aluu town. This morning [Wednesday] I called a friend that lives in Aluu - as do quite a few students, since it is adjacent to the university - and she told me she was very scared because the boys had destroyed a lot of property. Aluu is now a ghost town, and everyone is living in fear of reprisals.
This morning [Wednesday], as early as 5 a.m., students were vacating their residences; I myself am all packed up and ready to leave town. I heard three gunshots ring out around 7 a.m. It’s not safe here anymore.

“Whatever may have happened, there is no excuse for people deciding to take the law into their own hands and killing young men in their prime”

Michael Lestat lives in Port Harcourt. He was a close friend of two of the victims, whom he had known for nearly a year. Lestat manages musicians, and had been planning a concert that included the two young men, who were rap artists. The concert was set to take place Thursday on the university campus; it has now been cancelled.
When I got the call from a friend telling me about the killings, I could not believe it. But then I saw the horrific photos that were being sent around. I have not yet been able to bring myself to watch the video. My two friends were talented, loving, and respectful people. I heard all the rumours about them being criminals, but I don’t believe them. And whatever may have happened, there is no excuse for people deciding to take the law into their own hands and killing young men who were in their prime, who were going to do great things. If there was a problem, these people should have turned to the police.
After they were killed, the university said it was not responsible for what happened to students off campus – and didn’t say much more. So students, fed up, decided to protest on Tuesday. I joined them early in the morning; there must have been at least 5,000 in all. I didn’t see any violence while I was there. We waited for 10 hours for the vice-chancellor to come speak to us. The vice-chancellor is the one responsible for the decision to make all students, after their second year, seek lodgings off-campus [because of a shortage of on-campus housing]. So the students, in addition to demanding that the university make sure justice would be served, also demanded that all students immediately be given housing on-campus, where the university would be responsible for their safety. [During a news conference Tuesday, the vice-chancellor condemned the killings, and asked the government to help clear hurdles for the university to acquire more land.] The student protesters also called for compensation for the victims’ families. I hope the university will listen.
 Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Gaelle Faure.