By Dayo Johnson, Akure
TONGUES are wagging over the allegation that some cooks at the Federal Government Girls College, FGGC, Akure, Ondo State capital were caught by students while picking into two “Ghana-Must-Go” bags, used sanitary pads of female pupils, possibly for sinister motive.
Already, those fingered have been suspended by the school authorities while police detectives have equally picked them up for questioning.
Three of the cooks were initially “caught in the act “ but one of them was reportedly “let go” because of her alleged connection.
The suspects have been in police custody in the last one week.
But investigation by Sunday Vanguard revealed that the suspects allegedly worked in collaboration with a top female official of the school.
It was alleged that the used sanitary pads were taken away for ritual purpose.
Reports had it that the alleged act had been on for some time until nemesis caught up with the suspects when some students of the college saw them picking the sanitary pads at odd hours into some “Ghana Must Go” bags following which they raised the alarm.
The school’s Principal, Mrs. Florence Ejikeme, reportedly, ordered immediate suspension of the suspects and consequently set up a panel to look into the students allegation.
But the action of the school authorities, it was learnt, did not go down well with most of the students who believed the matter was treated with levity and suspected that it may be swept under the carpet.
Some workers in the school, reportedly sympathetic to the students case, encouraged them to stage a protest.
This was leaked to the school authorities and the Chairman of the Parents Teachers Association, PTA, of the school, Akin Ashimolowo, was immediately invited to mediate and also to assure the students on the need to shelve the protest.
Ashimolowo, while addressing the students, promised that the school authorities and the PTA would get to the root of the matter.
Still not convinced, some of the students, Sunday Vanguard learnt, reported the matter to their parents during the school’s visiting day and it became a matter on the agenda.
Reports had it that the parents, the school principal and the PTA executives engaged in a shouting match when it became obvious that the matter was about to be treated with levity by the school authorities.
A protest by the parents during the visiting day led to the invitation of police detectives who later whisked away the two suspects.
Fray nerves were calmed after the intervention just as some parents threatened to take their wards away from the school following the ugly development.
Speaking with Sunday Vanguard, a parent alleged that the suspects confessed to the alleged crime at the police station.
She alleged that one of the suspects is connected to a prominent politician in Ondo State and that efforts were on to sweep the matter under the carpet.
“The question we want to ask the police is, where did they (suspects) keep all the sanitary pads they have been taking since all these days? Who sent them, who are they working for? “, the parent said.
It was gathered that some parents of the students have vowed to get to the root of the matter and would not allow the school authorities to shield the suspects from prosecution if found.
Many of the parents are, however, not on the same page with their association (PTA) on the matter.
Those who spoke wondered why police detectives were still holding the suspects if the allegation was unfounded as the PTA Chairman wanted them to believe.
In a statement, titled, “FGGC Akure PTA: Our response to the arrest of cooks allegedly scavenging for used sanitary pads” , issued immediately the allegation went viral, the Chairman of the school PTA denied the entire story.
“Our attention has been drawn to newspaper reports of the arrest of two cooks for allegedly picking used sanitary pads of students at Federal Government Girls College, Akure. We are compelled to respond to the issues raised in the newspaper reports to set the record straight” , the statement said.
“Our investigation revealed that some girls saw the cooks at the incinerator site ostensibly gathering waste products. They were there and then accosted by the girls who searched their Bagco bags and found a spoon, pair of slippers, a cooler and three used cakes of Premier Soap.
“The girls then called the attention of their house mistresses to the scene who also searched the Bagco bags and found the items listed above.
“The cooks were led to the top management team of the college, which, on initial investigation, concluded that they be immediately suspended while further investigation continues by the committee set up by the college.
“At this stage, the PTA Chairman was invited to the college and, on arrival, he called to see the students who witnessed the drama and appealed to the students to conduct themselves well and allow further investigation of the matter. “Protest from parents on the Visiting Day, Saturday April 2, 2016 led to the invitation of the police. The alleged cooks were subsequently arrested and driven away to the Area Commander’s office for further interrogation.
“While awaiting the police report on the investigation, PTA Executive has been talking and appealing to the parents and students to exercise patience with the conclusion of the investigation considering that the students are writing the WAEC Examination.
The state police commissioner, Mrs. Hilda Harrison, told Sunday Vanguard that the police had not seen evidence to prosecute the suspects and that the matter was still under investigation. Harrison said the inability of the school authority to have a proper waste disposal system in the school was disturbing and was responsible for what happened.