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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Anambra Commissioner, Journalist Disagree Over Investigation Report


By Izunna Okafor, Awka

The Anambra State Commissioner for Education, Prof. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh has debunked the media report by an Anambra-based journalist, Karen James of the Pechilly Investigative Channel, on the outcome of investigation of the case of bodily injury on a two-year-old pupil, Egbuniwe Davida Ifechukwu of the Blessed Wisdom Model School Housing Estate, GRA, Onitsha.

Recall that Anambra State Government had, on July 14, announced the immediate and indefinite shut down of the aforementioned school, over allegations that the proprietress of the school never reached out to the parents of the pupil to inform them of her injuries, did not administer any first aid treatment on her when she sustained the said injury, did not reach out to the family of the pupil thereafter to ascertain her welfare; and did not honour invitation by the government to explain what happened to the little girl.

Following the closure of the school, the Education Commissioner, Prof. Chuma-Udeh, who said the closure was ordered by Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo, also announced the setting up of a panel of enquiries.

However, after the first sitting of the 7-man panel in Awka on July 25, 2023, journalist Karen James reported that the meeting ended inconclusive, as, according to her, the Commissioner and the parents of little miss Egbuniwe were giving inconsistent testimonies on the subject matter, fed inaccurate information to the panel, and also switched allegations against the school.

You can read a copy of Karen James’ report HERE as was copied to ONYOKOMITA.
Few days after panel’s proceeding, the journalist, through her organisation, also wrote an open letter to Governor Soludo on the matter, a COPY of which was also made available to ONYOKOMITA.

In her reaction however, Commissioner Chuma-Udeh rejected James’ reports on the matter regretted what she described as the infiltration of quacks into the journalism profession.

The Commissioner’s reaction was contained in a statement “Injured Todler- Egbuniwe Davida Ifechukwu: Quacks’ Distortion of Facts Calls for Concern”, which was made available to this reporter by the Public Relations Officer of the State Ministry of Education, Mr. Nnaemeka Egwuonwu.

The statement reads in full: “The Commissioner for Education, Prof. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh has described as unhealthy, the infiltration of quacks into the journalism profession.

“Commissioner Chuma-Udeh was reacting to the unfortunate misrepresentation of facts by some sections of the media apparently controlled by quacks. They usually weep up unnecessary sentiments whenever issues arise bordering on public interest.

“The Commissioner stated that the most recent was the case of grievous bodily injury on EGBUNIWE DAVIDA IFECHUKWU-a two-year-old pupil of Blessed Wisdom Model School Housing Estate GRA Onitsha, reported to the State Government.

“The State Government has since investigated the matter through a seven man Committee which came out with the revelation that the child, EGBUNIWE DAVIDA IFECHUKWU, sustained the grievous bodily injury that got her humerus broken. She also had split tongue.

“Other findings of the Committee include that the child got injured following a book shelf accident which the school however refuted , claiming that the child sustained the injury while playing.

“One wonders why journalist Karen James would like to input flogging, which was neither mentioned at the panel nor elsewhere by the Commissioner or the petitioners. If not for mischief, why would Karen James mention flogging, attributing same to the Commissioner and parents of the child, then using it as a platform to launch unwarranted attack.

“By this, the author has exhibited abysmal ignorance and having no knack for detailed investigative reportage.

“The Committee further identified carelessness and negligence on the part of the school, for failing to reach out to the parents of the child, to ascertain her welfare.

“The child was receiving treatment from a local bone setter as was gathered by the Panel from the parents of the child, the school’s management and the parent who took them to the place. This treatment at the local bone setter’s place (which Karen James described as a professional clinic), was what the Committee viewed as unprofessional.

“One even wonders how Karen James got the information that formed the bases for her write-up, since neither her nor her Civil Society Organization — the Pechilly Investigative Channel was identified during the panel investigation.

“It is unfortunate to note that some people who may have received peanuts to dish out falsehood for whatever reason, have resorted to using the new media to misrepresent facts about critical matters, thereby misleading members of the public and desecrating the noble noble journalism profession saddled with the responsibility of informing the society accurately.”

Continuing, Egwuonwu said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Committee of Inquiry constituted by Anambra State Government investigated the report on grievous bodily injury on EGBUNIWE DAVIDA IFECHUKWU-a two year old pupil of Blessed Wisdom Model School Housing Estate GRA Onitsha and not any matter on flogging, as misrepresented by journalist Karen James. The report that triggered the investigation was made by A.A. Anagu Esq. and O. J. Akubilo Esq. & Partners, Counsels to Dr. and Mrs. A. A. Anagu. It stated among other things, that the child who went to the aforementioned school sustained grievous bodily injury.

“They also accused the school of not concerned attitude towards the welfare of the injured child.

“The Committee had since concluded the investigation and outcome made public in a number of press statements by the Commissioner for Education. Members of the public who genuinely follow the matter are therefore aware of what happened.

“No amount of sentiment from hired media outfits can derail the Soludo-led administration from ensuring that justice is done.

“The recent outings of quacks through the new media call for concern from stakeholders in the journalism profession. However, all hope is not lost, as real journalists are still doing their best in line with the ethics of the profession.

“While the likes of Karen James were busy weeping up sentiments and playing out sensationalism to please their pay master, real journalists have continued to verify the facts and feed the public with accurate information.”

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