ENUGU —THE Zonal office of the National Examinations Council, NECO in Enugu was yesterday vandalized by officials of Enugu State Housing Development Corporation acting on the orders of the Managing Director, Mr. Ikeje Asogwa.
The officials, who were accompanied by some young men suspected to be political thugs and a handful of mobile policemen, broke into the offices of NECO located within the Coal City Garden at about 7 am when the workers had not reported for duty and allegedly evacuated furniture, office equipment and vital examination documents, including answer sheets and result slips.
Zonal Coordinator of NECO in the state, Mr. Joseph Archibong, who narrated the incident to reporters, said the office accommodation was allocated to the council by the state government last month and that barely a week after they moved into the duplex within the estate built by the State Housing Corporation, the council was notified that their presence was constituting a nuisance to other residents.
He expressed fears that the “unlawful action” of the agents of the government might prevent the council from conducting the November/December SSCE examination, which is expected to commence next week as, according to him, the list of trained supervisors that would conduct the examination in the state had disappeared along with other sensitive materials.
The Zonal Coordinator said: “At about 8.30 today (yesterday), my staff called to inform me that some unauthorized persons had invaded the office and on further questioning, they said they were even throwing our things out and throwing things out means throwing out our certificates, result slips, furniture, working materials as a whole and even answer booklets, and these are very sensitive materials.
“At the gate, they refused me entry. However, when we eventually entered with some members of staff, I got to the office and discovered that these materials were truly thrown out.
“I met the unauthorized persons trying to push in some of the materials again, especially the writing materials, the stationeries, certificates, result sheets and others. They now loaded about four vehicles with the furniture and other office equipment. We don’t know where they have taken them.
“The government said we are allocated an office space in a residential area and because of a number of clients coming in to see us everyday, they feel we should move. They now gave us an alternative accommodation in the month of August.
“When we got to the place, we told them that the place was not habitable and on the 8th of October they gave us another letter of re-allocation of another place around Enugu Broadcasting Service.
“On that 8th of October, they gave us one week to leave our present location. I had to travel to the, NECO, Headquarters in Minna to discuss and consult with my superior officers and I came back with a letter which I submitted to the Secretary to the State Government’s office.”
“The letter is requesting them not just to give us sometime but reminding them that we are dealing with very sensitive materials. The letter also thanked the government for being so kind and then asking for time so that we can put a fence, a gate and secure the place.
The implications are these: If the place is not secured, next week we are starting the exam, the SSCE November/December, hoodlums can hijack the most sensitive materials while we are offloading and we are being very careful concerning that.
“Even the Answer Booklets they have tampered with, we are afraid, we have to make a formal report to the Headquarters. The official reason given by the people for this unlawful action is that our clients constitute a nuisance because they come in their numbers but that is not enough reason for these unauthorized persons to invade our offices in our absence and destroy these sensitive materials and office equipment.”
He further explained that it was not possible for the workers to relocate to the ESBS premises immediately because the roof of the Staff Canteen allocated to the council was down and leaking having been abandoned for a very long time.
Asked why NECO has not moved to its permanent site within PRODA Headquarters at Emene Enugu which was officially commissioned by Governor Sullivan Chime since December 2007 with a firm promise to provide basic infrastructures like road, electric transformer and security, Archibong said that he cannot comment on the permanent site since he assumed office in Enugu only two months ago.
Efforts by reporters to speak with the Managing Director of the Housing Corporation, Mr. Asogwa when the office equipment were being loaded into some Hilux vans, proved abortive as he ordered his mobile policemen to seize the NTA Video camera and threatened to deal with the reporters if they did not leave the scene immediately.
Some NECO personnel present were also chased away by the gun-wielding security men acting on the instructions of the Managing Director,