…I was grieved when I saw condition of my boy – Father of victim

…SEB, MOE have ruled that the culprit remains expelled – Principal

By Peter Okutu, Abakaliki

It was indeed a case of attempted murder at Government Secondary School, Afikpo, Ebonyi State, when a Junior Secondary School, JSS 1 student, Master Fruitful Onwe was allegedly forced to drink garri socked with hypo detergent by one Iroh Chidiebere Bright, an SS2 Student of the same School.

It was gathered that the ugly episode was hide from the School Management and Parents of the victims, until the bubble busted.

Vanguard gathered that the victim who was rushed to Afikpo Medical Centre after three days, confessed that Iroh Chidiebere Bright, a senior student of SS 2 and House Captain forced him to take the poisonous substance.

“He warned me not to reveal to any one either in the School or to his parents at home.”

Narrating his ordeal, the father of the victim and Public Relations Officer, PRO, Ministry of Works and Transport, Mr. Emmanuel Onwe explained that the entire episode was a painful to him.

“On Friday 20th May, 2022, I received a phone call from the Principal telling me that my son was admitted in the hospital. Furiously, I asked him what happened, and he told me that a senior student administered poisonous garri on my son and he became sick.

“I immediately took a trip to Afikpo and met the principal in his office from where he delegated a male teacher who took me to Afikpo Medical Centre where my son was receiving treatment. There I met the Vice Principal and another woman. The three of them led me to where my son was.

“My heart was so grieved by the sight of my child lying critical ill on the hospital bed but I managed to control myself. The child who administered the poisonous garri was also there.

“When I asked my son what happened, he narrated before the teachers. He said on Wednesday 18th June, 2022 while he was alone outside the hostel doing manual labour, the senior student who was also the hostel Captain came to him and asked him whether he will drink garri, and he replied him no. But the senior student told him to shut up and take what he has given him and drink immediately.

“My son again summoned courage and told him (the senior student) that he was afraid because he has never given him anything in the past. The senior student then insisted that he must drink the poisoned garri and warned my son not to repeat the statement. Out of fear, he succumbed to the intimidation and began to drink.

“When my son noticed that the taste was bad, he told the senior student that it had the taste of hypo-jik, but he told him to shut up. At that point my son refused to take more of the poisoned garri against the senior student’s persuasion. He then took it from him and entered the hostel.

“After about 30 minutes, my son began to have stomach upset and pain in the throat. He quickly went to the senior student and told him his experience. The senior student then gave him palm oil to drink and warned him not to mention what happened to anybody.

“Unfortunately, the problem persisted until Thursday night when my son became very weak and could no longer breathe well. The senior student made arrangement to smuggle him out of the school and send him home. He warned my son not to mention what happened to anyone including me and my wife if he gets home.

“Early in the morning while the senior student with the help of other two senior students were carrying my son on the back to sneak him out of the school, some teachers took notice of what was going on and intercepted them. The senior student and his friends maintained that nothing was wrong with my son but the evidence was already there as my son could not stand on his feet and was as well afraid to open up.

“They maintained their position until out of stiff interrogation of the teachers, another student who had the knowledge of what transpired came and revealed it to the teachers who then rushed my son to the hospital. The issue now is that some people are bent on reversing the culprit’s expulsion from the school since my child didn’t die.”

In a telephone chat with Vanguard, the Principal of the School Mr. Ogbonnia Nwachi stated that the “status of the case as at today, 2nd September, 2022, is that the Secondary Education Board, SEB, Abakaliki, and the Ministry of Education, MOE, have ruled that the boy or culprit remains expelled.

“Nobody is putting pressure for him to be returned. The two institutions have resolved that the boy remains expelled. We are proactive. As I always advise them because I hold regular meetings with them; be kind with one another as no one knows tomorrow.

“The person you are maltreating today because you are his senior could be the person that will help you tomorrow. So, if you are in the habit of maltreating him, and he becomes an eminent person tomorrow, you will not know how to meet him. You will be hiding.

“The best thing is for them to see themselves as brothers instead of this act that I want to show that am a senior. It doesn’t mean anything. Nobody has ever been given an award for being a bully or wicked. I will continue to advise them because for those of us on the field, to manage over 1000 students from different homes and with different idiosyncrasies is not easy.”

The Chairman of SEB, David Egbu who explained that the matter was not before his Board, called on the two families to make peace.

Meanwhile, the father of Culprit, Mr. Tony Iroh advised Students to focus on the reason their parents sent them to School and avoid playing with everything.

“I will encourage students to focus on why they were sent to school and not play with everything. If he is recalled, I will feel happy because he has been in the school for a very long time.”

Vanguard investigation revealed that some highly placed individuals within the Education sector in the State were putting modalities in place to ensure the return of the culprit to the School.

The implication is that if they succeed, the life of the victim will unarguably be perpetual danger.

This development is presently agitating the minds of students of the School as well as the parent of the victim.

It was also gathered that a woman lawyer (names withheld) in Ebonyi, who claimed that the culprit was a minor, argued that since the victim  didn’t die, the culprit should be allowed to return to the school.

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.