By DEBORAH AKPEDE
LAGOS- Not fewer than 40 hoodlums invaded a private school, Shalom Group of Schools in Baruwa, Ipaja area of Lagos State and displaced students and teachers.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the students and management of the school could not gain access into the premises as the main entrance gate had been blocked by the land grabbers, popularly referred to as ”Omo-Onile”.
The proprietress of the school, Mrs Adedayo Odeka, told NAN on Monday that the hoodlums were allegedly led by an “Omo Onile” popularly known as Kaka.
“He claimed that they had won a court judgement to take possession of our land.
“I told him to show me the judgement, as I was not aware of any court case let alone judgment but he refused.
Odeka said that the land was allocated to them by the Federal Government in 1992 and a school was built on it.
“Coming out overnight and claiming the land is uncalled for.
“This is a land we have been occupying for 30 years, students have been graduating year in year out.
“The land is a Federal Government allocation, we don’t have any dealings with ‘Omo Onile’ we have all our documents,” she said.
The proprietress said that the hoodlums came on Saturday and damaged fence and railings to gain access into the compound forcing boarding students to vacate.
She claimed that the case was reported at Ipaja police station but that the police were incapacitated.
“When the case was reported, the police
reluctantly followed us to the site after much pressure but could not act as the hoodlums continued with the erection of the structure,” she said.
She urged the government to arrest the perpetrators of this act and persecute them.
The security guard, Mr Micheal Yakubu, alleged that over 40 hoodlums, who were led by the Kaka group invaded the school around 6:00a:m on Saturday.
“They broke the wall, removed the two main gates to gain access, claiming that the land belonged to them.
“They brought in sand, blocks and started digging and erecting structure on the school field.
“After erecting the structure beyond nine coaches, they blocked the two entrances with blocks, put a small gate and locked it.” he said.
A parent, Mr Osagie Igebo, said that it was disheartening for a group of people to traumatise young children and send them out of boarding school.
“This is wrong for the society and the system, it is sad, look at the kids outside, these are our future generation that we are talking about.
“We have to change this narrative, even if there is a dispute on the property, it should be resolved amicably,” he said.
A teacher, Mrs Ifeoma Abah, said that the land grabbers, who stormed this school on Saturday chased the students out of the hostel.
“They chased the students out without considering whether their parents were close or far, some of them were half clad but the men didn’t care.
“We came this morning only to be denied access into the school.
“The pupils, students and teachers are stranded, we all have rights as Nigerians to learn,” she said.
A boarder in the school , Miss Success Afolayan, a senior secondary two student, said she felt tortured and traumatised on Saturday when the hoodlums invaded their school.
“I was traumatised, as we were running from pillar to post, this action is uncalled for, in a learning environment.
“This is going to affect our education, as we do not know when it will be resolved,” she said.
Mrs Oluwatoyin Okafor, the principal, said that the miscreants destroyed some of the school properties and sent them out.
“They destroyed the wall and iron rails and burgled the generator house.
“We were not given audience, the security agents were standing by their side with guns threatening to shoot us if we talk.
“We were left with no option than to call the parents of the boarders, who live in Lagos to pick them, while we pleaded with some teachers and parents to take those who live outside Lagos home with them.
“Our students are preparing for WASCE, NECO and JAMB, they just came to disrupt the school activities,” she said.
Another parent, Mr Ebenezer Akande, a civil servant, said that he was shocked when he saw that the two main gates were blocked.
“As you can see, the children could not gain access into the school.
“The Lagos State Government should wake up and do something concerning this land grabbers,” he said.
The registrar of the school, Mr Akinola Adebayo, said that he got an invitation letter from Zone 2, Onikan, that someone wrote a petition against him.
“When I got there on Thursday, they said that they had a petition against me, that I am using charms and cultists to chase Omo-onile away from their land.
“I told them that I don’t know the petitioner, after I answered the petition, the police asked the two parties (the Omo-onile) and (Shalom school) to come back today Monday Jan. 30,?but I was surprised that the Omo-onile invaded the school on Saturday.
“When we called the police, they said that there was nothing they could do,” he said.
Adebayo urged the government to intervene in the matter, so that the children can go back to school.
NAN reports that some students were carrying cardboards with the inscriptions such as “Education is our right”, “say no to Omo-onile oppressors”, “the future is weeping”, “Kaka, why take our right from us”, “Omo-onile, why send us out of our school”, “Government come to our rescue, save us from land grabbers” and many more.
The Police Public Relations Officers, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, who confirmed the story said that the case was not a criminal case.
“The case is not a police case, it is a civil case.
“I will urge the parties not to take laws into their own hands, so that a civil case will not turn to a criminal case,” he said. (NAN)