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WASSCE registration: Police hunt for fleeing principal after aggrieved students vandalize Edo school

Confusion gripped the Ugbekun area of Benin City, Edo State, on May 18 as aggrieved WASSCE students vandalised facilities at the Joseph Itotoh Memorial Group of Schools located at No. 20 Osaruwense Street, Upper Sakponba.

Trouble started when the students discovered that they would not partake in the ongoing West African Senior School Certificate Examination organized by the West African Examinations Council despite paying fees through the school principal, Samuel Oyebode and underwent biometrics.

Saturday PUNCH gathered that the students wanted to burn down the school during the demonstration but for the intervention of residents in the area. The principal is said to be on the run.

According to Punch, it gathered that the students suspected that something was amiss when on the commencement of the examination there were no WAEC officials for supervision and the principal was nowhere to be found. The students quickly agreed to take laws into their own hands by vandalising property in the school to ventilate their anger.

The Punch correspondent who visited the school on Thursday observed that it was shut with broken glass windows and pieces of furniture littering the premises.

A woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity and works in the school as a non-teaching employee, told Saturday PUNCH that it was the principal who claimed to have enrolled the students that could shed light on the incident.

The woman further told our correspondent that the principal’s absence on the day of the protest compounded the problem. She disclosed that the vice principal was almost lynched by the students but for the intervention of the residents who advised him to report the case at the Idogbo Police Station.

She said, “The students who paid for the exam also did biometrics twice at a School on Sapele Road. I don’t know why the school didn’t hold the exam. External examinations are held in the school. But I cannot say what happened this year. The students accused the principal of fraud but it is only the principal that can shed light on what happened.’’

A lady in the area who identified herself as Esther also said that officials of the Edo State Ministry of Education visited the school a day after the incident. She said, “Officials of the state Ministry of Education came to the school a day after the demonstration. They asked questions from people around to know what happened. I am sure they will also be concerned about what happened in the school and take necessary steps.

“It is a sad development and I am sure steps will be taken to stop this kind of situation. It’s a bad situation. The students left the school premises after vandalising many things. I’m not sure if the school will be open again because the students who missed the WASSCE are ready for a showdown.’’

A male resident, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that residents were surprised at what happened, adding that the students went on the rampage and were about to torch the school when members of the community intervened.

He said, “The destruction would have been worse than what you see if the students were not stopped by members of the community when they wanted to burn down the school. Many houses near the school building would have been affected.’’

READ ALSO: Kind People To Help SS3 Student Who Do Homework While Hawking Banana In Street

He stated that when the vice principal escaped lynched by the aggrieved students, he reported the issue to the police to save his life.

He added, “I think the students actually got annoyed because the principal was not available to brief them on what happened. They would have burnt down the school and it would have affected other houses if the people in the community didn’t intervene. But they had a field day vandalising the school property.’’

He noted that the school always registered students for external exams, wondering what could have caused the non-registration of the students.

The unnamed resident said, “The school has been in existence for over 20 years and it has been holding WASSCE for a long time. I don’t know what happened this time. But I think the principal has a lot of explaining to do.

“The matter was also reported to the police by the vice principal who was almost lynched by the angry youths. The situation has calmed down and hopefully, the school will resume when everything is sorted out.”

Attempts by our correspondent to speak with any of the affected students were futile. Some of the residents who spoke with our correspondent claimed they didn’t know any of them living either nearby or outside the community. After over an hour in the community our correspondent left the vicinity after he was advised by one of the residents to prevent an attack.

A visit to the WAEC office in Benin City on Friday revealed that the school was not registered for the 2022 WASSCE. Though none of the officials met in the office was willing to comment on the matter, a list sighted by our correspondent showing schools registered for the examination in the state didn’t include Joseph Itotoh Memorial Group of Schools.

Speaking with Saturday PUNCH, the Vice Principal, who identified himself only as Ezekiel, said he had yet to recover from the shock arising from the incident.

He also lamented that it had been difficult to reach the principal, whose mobile had been switched off since the incident happened.

He said: “Till now, we have not seen the principal and don’t know his whereabouts. It is only the principal that can answer why the students were not enrolled.  I can’t say why he acted in this manner. The last time I called his mobile, it indicated it was switched off from the day the issue became public. Even when his mobile rang at other times, he didn’t take his call. I am also shocked at the turn of events. I don’t know what he negotiated with the students as the exam fees.’’

The VP stated that the owner of the school was already making plans to register the affected students for NECO.

On her part, the state Commissioner for Education, Joan Oviawe, said that the ministry was investigating the matter and would come out with its findings soon. She stated that the state government was committed to eradicating miracle centres and abolishing malpractices in the education system.

She said, “We are aware of the matter. We sent our officials there and we will come out with our findings soon. However, we are bent on eradicating miracles centres in the state and ensuring that students sit for and pass their exams.’’

Also, the spokesperson for the police in the state, Bello Kontongs, said that the vice principal was arrested and released on bail, adding that the principal was on the run. He added that efforts were on to ensure his arrest.

READ ALSO: SS3 Students Stranded As School Owner Collects WAEC Fees, Disappears And Put School For Sale


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