BY SIMON EBEGBULEM & GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE
BENIN—FOR going ahead with the competency test for secondary and primary schools in the state, despite a court order stopping same, counsel to Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools, ASSUS, Mr. Olayiwola Afolabi, is to file contempt proceeding against Edo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Henry Idahagbon.
Meanwhile, Edo State Commissioner for Higher Education, Mr. Washington Osifo, has described the assessment test conducted in the state by the Prof. Denis Agbonlahor- led Assessment Committee as a success, saying that teachers who absented themselves from the test will have themselves to blame.
Although the exercise was marred by low turnout of teachers, the assessment test for public schools teachers was held on Saturday by the Edo State Government across the three senatorial districts of the state.
Afolabi, who spoke with newsmen, weekend in Benin, exhibited a photocopy of the receipt of an Edo State Government of a courier service with which an interim order granted by National Industrial Court, sitting in Abuja, restraining the state government from conducting the competency test or any other test, was purportedly said to have been served on the state Attorney General.
He said: “We are going to file contempt proceedings. We are aware that former Attorney General of this state went to prison for disobeying court order. So, if he goes ahead, we know the appropriate thing to do and the Attorney General will go to prison.
“We know the Attorney General of the state. I respect him, he cannot try it because he knows the law, he is a member of the Bar. If he tries it, it is prison straight, Oko prison and Benin prisons are there.”
On his part, the state Chairman, ASUSS, Mr. Charles Ifaluyi, reiterated the position of the union on the competency test and called on members to disregard any threat by the state government aimed at coercing them to write the examination, adding that there was an existing court order restraining the government and the Agbonlahor-led committee from conducting any assessment test in the state for the teachers.
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Louis Odion, had denied that the state Ministry of Justice was aware of an injunction restraining the state government from going ahead with the teachers’ assessment exercise.
He said: “There was nothing like a court injunction,” adding that he was glad that those who meant well for the children of the state participated actively in the test, noting that the exercise was not to witch hunt, but to reform the educational sector.
According to him, “We are not aware of any order stopping the test. An attempt to get an order does not in itself translate to an order stopping the conduct of the test. As we all observed, the test held successfully in the three senatorial districts of the state. May be, some teachers felt it was not necessary, but those who saw the import of what the state government was doing participated.”