…as schools resume

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

“The state government remains resolute in its commitment to ensure the safety of lives and property of residents and has already beefed up security in schools to prevent a re-occurrence, (kidnapping).

Four Igbonla freed studentS; From left; Yusuf Faruq, Isiaka Rahmon, Perm Sec, Min of Education, Mr Adesida Odeyemi, Agbaosi Judah and Jonah Peter in school after resumption, yesterday. Photo by Monsuru Olowoopejo.

“It is on record that the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode-led administration has invested massively on equipment and welfare of security personnel so as to ensure that the State remain safe for residents and investors.

“This government has already taken giant steps to secure all our schools especially those in the suburbs and riverine areas and we are confident that the steps taken so far will go a long way in nipping a repeat of such in the bud.”

Those were the words of assurances made by Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, shortly after the release of six students of Igbonla-Epe Model College who were abducted on May 25, 2017 in their school premises.

Two separate incidents of kidnapping of secondary school students were witnessed in the state within seven months last session, the other being the abduction of some students at the Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Ikorodu.

Apparently still haunted by the incidents, school administrators, parents, guardians and stakeholders have expressed concern over the safety of students across the state as the 2017/2018 academic session commenced last Monday.

Penultimate Thursday, ahead of resumption, the state government, through the Ministry of Education, had organised a workshop for stakeholders on the safety of students and staff of model colleges and upgraded secondary schools across the state where issues concerning security were discussed.

At the event, Governor Ambode ordered the state ‘special taskforce’ to demolish illegal structures and shanties located within the set-back and around all public schools in the state.

The state Police Command also announced the deployment of armed policemen to some model colleges, particularly those located in riverine areas in order to nip in the bud any possible security threat to students and staff.

The three lecturers who spoke at the occasion harped on vigilance by government and members of the public, stressing, “Security is the job of everyone.”

Some of the other speakers urged the state government to secure riverine areas while some raised the alarm over increasing presence of criminal elements around various schools in the state and wanted government to arrest the situation before it gets out of hand.

The state deputy governor, Dr. Idiat Adebule, explained the measures already taken to prevent kidnapping or crime in schools as well as ensure that students and staff are safe and secure.

Adebule, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the state ministry of education, Mr. Adesina Odeyemi, spoke on the theme of the workshop, ‘Towards a safe and secure learning environment’.

She stressed that the security of lives and property is the prime responsibility of any government and the state government had not shirked from the responsibility since 2015 that Ambode came on board.

“The future of our children depends on quality education and their safety will not be compromised as they are commencing a new academic session. We all have to be on the same page on security, we have to be proactive in order to ensure a smooth sailing 2017/2018 academic session”, the deputy governor said.

She, however, acknowledged that there is a new phase of insecurity that should be confronted which is the kidnap cases of schools students.

She continued, “However, no stone should be left un-turned in this battle, capacity building in the area of safety and security is equally essential.”

The measures in place to boost security include construction of perimeter fences, clearing of bushes, shanties, within and around school premises, construction of watch towers, flood lights and alarm system to alert students and teachers alike in case of intrusion, and Close Circuit Television, CCTV, installation in schools.

The Ambode government also presented to the state Police Command helicopters and three gun boats purchased for aerial and waterways monitoring of criminal elements.

While delivering an address on security, the state Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, Bolaji Salami, who is also Officer in Charge, OC, State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, Panti, disclosed that the police had destroyed over 200 camps of kidnappers in the creeks and within Lagos.

He said, “The Commissioner of Police in Lagos has also approved the deployment of armed policemen on 24 hours basis to some model colleges to enhance security of lives and property.

“The armed policemen will be on shift, a team will be at duty post from a certain period in the day while the other team will take over the second shift. These are some of the strategies the police are putting in place to checkmate incidents of kidnapping and other sundry crimes.”

Meanwhile, two days after the resumption for the new academic session, four out of the six kidnapped students of Igbonla Model College, Epe, who regained freedom, joined their colleagues.

The four freed students who resumed with their colleagues are Yusuf Faruq, Agbaosi Judah, Isiaka Rahmon and Jonah Peter. The two others still expected in school are George Adebanjo and Philips Pelumi.

During a visit to the school, it was also observed that the entrance gate had been rehabilitated and the construction of watchtower reaching 96 per cent completion. Toilets and classrooms in the school premises had also been renovated.

.I have nothing to be afraid of- freed student

In an interview with journalists, one of the freed students, Judah, showing no sign of fear, said he, alongside his three colleagues resumed because they loved their school and the serene atmosphere good enough for their academic pursuit.

He said: “I feel great resuming in school. I believe that nothing bad can happen to us again. I have put the kidnapping behind me and decided to come back to school.

“I decided not to go to another school because I like my school. I have nothing to fear. The teachers’ style of teaching is fantastic. They often give us the opportunity to ask questions whenever we don’t understand what we are being taught. The facilities have improved, especially in the area of security.

“For those that have not resumed, I believe that they do not have any reason to be scared because those that encountered the trauma with them have returned to school”.

To boost security, armed policemen deployed from Rapid Response Squad, RRS, were seen on the premises, patrolling.

The Perm Sec in Lagos State Ministry of Education, Odeyemi, who led government entourage on a visit to model schools in the axis, including Model College Agunfoye in Igbogbo Bayeku Local Council Development Area, LCDA, assured parents of adequate security within the school and environs, saying there was no need for fear.

In order to enhance security, Odeyemi said: “The students have been sensitized on how they can use alarm during emergency cases.

“And in order to ensure that we have improved security, we have lit up the schools. We have raised the perimeter fences and put in place other security apparatus that we cannot disclose to the public to boost the confidence of parents.

“The entrances to the dormitory have been strengthened to ensure that we do not experience what we had earlier.”

Meanwhile, the state House of Assembly has commended the Ambode government for providing the enabling environment for the resumption of the new academic session in the state schools.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Education, Hon Lanre Ogunyemi, gave the commendation when he led members of the committee to Lagos State Model College, Ajah on a visit to witness the resumption.

Ogunyemi stated that with what he and his colleagues had seen, it was obvious that the schools, teachers and pupils were ready for the new academic session, anchored on the provision of modern infrastructure by the state government.

The lawmaker donated N300, 000 to the school on behalf of his daughter, Dr. Olubukola Ogunyemi, who was a student there.

Ogunyemi, representing Ojo Constituency 2, also used the opportunity to call on private organisations to support government on education.

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