14th February, 2012
There was commotion today as the Oyo State House of Assembly, southwest Nigeria, continued with the investigation of the SS3 student of United Senior Secondary School, Ijokodo, Ibadan, Master Allison Chukwu Ebuka who alongside his father, Mr. Emmanuel Allison, an inspector in the Nigeria Customs Service, was alleged to have beaten his school teacher.
About 10 Custom officers in three vehicles were said to have stormed the school to beat a teacher, Mr. Gbenga Ogunleye, for punishing one of the children of their colleagues.
The sitting was characterised by commotion, creating tension in the capital of Oyo state.
Students from various higher institutions led by student leaders of the University of Ibadan (UI) stormed the assembly complex in the UI students union vehicle with registration number FG 667 A50 in solidarity and support of the erring student.
They held the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Tokunbo Fayokun and other state government officials hostage for about 30 minutes trying to impress it upon the government to respect the right of children by not punishing the erring student.
The house which was tense throughout the session was not kind to police representative, CSP Funmilayo Akinfenwa, a pastor and the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Sango Police Station who came late for the session.
Immediately CSP Akinfenwa appeared on the floor of the House, the Speaker, Mrs. Sumonu Monsurat expressed disappointment that she did not only come late but she failed to carry out the instruction given her.
As she attempted to explain what kept her late, the speaker asked her not to bother to offer any explanation because the House would not listen to her.
When the CSP insisted on talking, the Speaker thundered again: “Shut up. What we will do now is to give you an instruction which you must comply with”.
At this point, CSP Akinfenwa could not hold back tears as she repeatedly wiped her face with handkerchief.
At the end of the session, Akinfenwa wept as she left the House chamber and was surrounded by sympathisers who consoled her.
But she refused to be pacified as she continued to weep until she was ushered into her official vehicle and left with her entourage.
There were mixed reactions over the way the woman was treated as many people were of the view that the speaker was too rude to her, stressing that she ought not to have publicly asked the senior police officer to shut her mouth.
“How can the Speaker be so intoxicated by power to the extent of asking a senior police officer to shut up? The speaker simply insulted the police authority and that is highly unfair. She has only four years on that seat and very soon, she will become an ordinary citizen. That woman is an elderly woman. She had really tried for this state. Whenever there is a problem, she is the one the police authority sends to resolve it. How can you treat somebody who is your age mate like that? The speaker is very very rude”, one of the eye witnesses stated.
Earlier, at the plenary session, all the parties involved were given the opportunity to defend themselves.
While Inspector Allison denied all the allegations levelled against him, reiterating that no shot was fired on the day of the incident, he said that he did not mind his son being punished for misconduct but he was against the extent at which his son was beaten by the teacher.
“The flogging was too much,” he said.
Ebuka, the student who addressed the house in Pidgin (broken) English admitted his misconduct, stressing that his teacher doubled his cane for refusing to take off his pair of trousers.
“He doubled the cane and flogged me. After he flogged me the Vice Principal later sent me home, make I go call my parents,” Ebuka said.
He debunked the allegation that he beat up his teacher.
Representing the Controller General of the Customs Service, the service spokesperson, Mr. Bashiru Adewale Adeniyi explained that the initial way the service handled the case was as a result of the lacuna in the service as at the time the incident occurred.
He justified the reason why Mr. Emmanuel Allison has not honoured the invitation of the police, stressing that he is yet to receive an order mandating him to appear before the police as summoned.
He assured that very soon, the service would have primary and secondary schools in Oyo State for the children of the staff of the service, saying that where they have school, their children attend their schools.
He said, “Education is very important to us. This is the reason why we run primary and secondary schools in most of the places we have our command but we don’t have our school here in Ibadan and that is why staff put their children in public schools. Customs officers have eight children in United Senior Secondary School, Ijokodo, Ibadan. I want to point it out that officers can be posted to anywhere and whenever this happens, their families follow them. And when they get to their new place, their children have to go to schools and they enroll them in any school that is available. So, that the children of our men change school does not say that they have committed crime where they are coming from.”
Explaining that the service does not condone indiscipline, he said that any parent could have behaved the same way Mr. Allison behaved seeing his son being overflogged.
He also cleared Mr. Allison of shooting as alleged saying, ‘Mr. Allison is an inspector who cannot mobilise a vehicle. I learnt that three vehicles were mobilised that day. Our fleet is 11 in Oyo State and it is meant for border. But as I said, we will investigate the matter and feed you back on our findings”.
But the Commissioner for Education countered him and the Customs Service, saying that they were being economical with the truth.
She said, “I take a bit off the spokesperson of Customs Service. It is a lie that there was no shooting. People around the area confirmed that there was commotion on that day when customs men infiltrated the school. There was actually shooting from customs men. I want to say that yes he was beaten but he was not beaten to the extent he claimed. I am interested in the report of the medical doctor that treated the student.”
She noted that the issue would not have escalated to the level it is if Mr. Allison had honoured the invitation the state government issued through the Ministry of Education, stressing that the student stand suspended until an apology letter is tendered.
“Could you imagine Mr. Allison refusing to honour the invitation of the state government that had paid for the child’s WAEC fees and I wondered the audacity he had with his colleagues to have stormed the school compound,” she said.
Other legislators condemned the behavior of Mr. Allison and his son except Honourable Olusegun Olaleye who asked for forgiveness on behalf of the erring student and the parent.
At the end of the session, the House referred the matter to the state ministry of education to handle the indiscipline aspect of the case while the police and customs were asked to investigate the shooting and the conduct of Mr. Allison as a customs man respectively.
The House also issued a warrant of arrest against counsel to Allison’s family, Barrister S. S. Akinyele for failure to honour the House’s invitation.
The House adjourned the matter till two weeks’ time.
By Gbenro Adesina/Ibadan