For allegedly using thugs to chase out pupils and teachers of St Malachy Primary School, Sapele in Delta state and sealing up the school, the state police commissioner, Ari Mohammed Ali, is said to have summoned the Chairman, Delta State Oil- Producing Areas Development Commission, (DESOPADEC), Michael Diden, aka Ejele over his alleged involvement, SaharaReporters has learnt.
Diden, a few weeks ago, allegedly used some Sapele youths suspected to be political thugs to invade St Malachy Primary School and had the entrance gate locked with chains and padlocks.
Heaps of sand were also put at the entrance to block entry.
He was said to have claimed he had bought the land where the school is situated as such no one would be permitted to use the premises for academic activities.
It was also gathered that the removal of the roofs of the school classrooms was allegedly carried out by Diden, who is a political ally of the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa.
Following the invasion of the public primary school, the state commissioner for primary education, Chika Ossai, visited the school and ordered the immediate removal of the padlocks on the school’s entrance gate.
Ossai also directed that the heaps of sand at the entrance should be removed.
He, however, condemned in strong terms the action of the commission’s chairman.
Our correspondent gathered that the intervention of the state primary education commissioner led to celebration among the school pupils, teachers and parents, who had earlier sent a Save-Our-Souls (SOS) to the state governor, Okowa.
SaharaReporters gathered that a few hours after the commissioner left the school premises, a Senior Special Assistant, (SSA) to Governor Okowa on Security Matters, Omasan Mabiaku, who is said to be loyal to Diden, mobilised over 30 thugs to the school premises and reclaimed it from the school authority.
Condemning the DESOPADEC chairman’s action, a parent in the area who simply identified herself as Ruth, lamented the situation.
She said, “We were very glad for the visit of the commissioner that at last, our children can now finally go back to school. But our hope was dashed. What kind of a state is this where people take the law into their hands? Painfully, Diden is a government official who ought to know the value and importance of education to our children who we always refer to as leaders of tomorrow. Where do we take the children to now? How can an individual claim to have bought school premises and the government will fold its hands and watch?”
Officials at the state ministry of primary education who spoke on condition of anonymity disclosed that following the inability of the Divisional Police Officer, (DPO) in charge of the area to handle the matter as a result of the closeness of the DESOPADEC chairman to the state governor, he decided to call for the immediate intervention of his boss, Commissioner of Police, Ari Mohammed Ali.
Ali, it was gathered summoned Diden, who claimed to have bought the premises from one Ogodo family in the area.
The police boss, it was gathered also invited the state commissioner for primary education, Ossai, representatives of the Ogodo family and other stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the matter.
When contacted, Diden, who denied any involvement in the removal of the school roof however stated, “How do you expect me to do such a thing, how can I do that? I bought that land from the Ogodo family and I can authoritatively tell you that I did not remove the roof.”
Confirming the invasion of the school premises and the police commissioner’s invitation, Ossai said, “The state commissioner of police has intervened in the matter and we hope that it will bring lasting peace and final solution. But the truth is that no one individual has the power to claim ownership of government land. Whatever reason that anybody has, every land is on trust to government and government also reserves the right to override public interest anytime.”