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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

ANAMBRA: Tension, As Govt Health Workers Storm Schools with Masked Armed Men, Wreck Havocs


By Chukwudi Ebele

An urgent alarm has been raised over the recent strings of activities attributed to some environment health workers in Anambra State who used masked armed men to intimidate, harass and extort some teachers school owners in some communities in the State.

The incident happened on Thursday in some communities in Idemili North Local Government Area of the State, where the said environmental health workers, in company of the the masked armed men, barged into into schools within Ogidi, Nkpor, and Obosi to abduct the teachers under the guise of enforcing fumigation levy for the State Government.

According to the excerpts from ‘Kulele Zone’ —a phone-in radio programme of Wazobia FM anchored by radio presenter Akwugo Toochi — our reporter gathered that the abducted teachers, principals or proprietors, after being subjected to some inhumane treatment and humiliations, were also compelled to pay ransom before they would be released; hence, they all bought their freedom with cash sum of money ranging from N300,000 to N350,000 without receipt.

The radio presenter, who brought up the issue as a topic for discussion because of the insecurity concerns in the state and the country at large, further noted that such incident could be another form of kidnapping, given that no public notice has been made, nor any awareness created about Governor Chukwuma Soludo setting up any taskforce on fumigation of schools in Idemili North or other parts of the State.

“Even if for any reason the State Government sent the taskforce with the Health workers, why should they cover there faces, use brute force and storm school premises where minors and children are learning, to terrorize them.

“Armed men should not be seen brandishing their rifles inside the school premises. It brings fear and panic, which is traumatizing and dangerous to the mental health of the children,” she said.

Contributing, an eyewitness who phoned-in during the radio programme, narrated that she saw when the team of masked armed men stormed St Joseph Catholic School, Enekwasumpu in Obosi.

According to her, the school’s security guard tried to resist them but they overpowered him hitting him with the butt of the rifles to weaken him, after which they tied him up.

“The masked men went further to arrest and force the teachers into the security van which left children scampering for safety. Even those of us at the street took cover because of the fierce looking masked operatives.

“It was later we learnt that they came with health workers from Idemili North Health Authority to demand for fumigation levy,” she narrated.

Corroborating her, another participant who phoned-in during the programme explained that the same group went to another school at Ogidi where her neighbour’s children are schooling, to abduct their teachers, which made her neighbour to restrain her children from going to school for now, till further notice, as the people may end up abducting the school children and also demand ransom on them if they don’t see teachers to abduct.

Also speaking on the condition of anonymity, a victim of the incident alleged that the same daredevil group came to their school at Ogidi in company of the said environmental health workers and whisked away virtually all the teachers in the school premises, without any official notice or demands, hence leaving the pupils stranded without their teachers and caregivers.

She said that the health workers further extorted the cash sum of over N100,000 from the school proprietor without receipt and without accepting that the payment be made through the state government’s remita account number —all happening after much humiliation in the hands of suspected vigilante operatives working for the environmental health workers.

“As soon as I opened the gate a team of armed men on mask with a Vigilante vehicle, suspected to be special force a.k.a Ebubeagu started harassing us saying they were sent by the INLGA Environmental health to come and arrest all the teachers present in my school.

“I asked them what offence we committed to warrant such humiliation. They said that I locked the gate against them. They forcefully pushed every staff of my school into the security van leaving the school children scampering for safety without any caregiver.

“They did not allow us to make any calls. It was when their vehicle could not contain all my staff that they reluctantly allowed two of our staff to stay behind in the school.”

Continuing, she said: “Getting to the Idemili North Local Government Health Authority, adjacent to the Local Government Secretariat, Ogidi, all of us were ordered to remove our shoes and sit on the bare floor like common criminals.

“After hours of detention, with the safety of the nursery and primary school children hanging in the balance, our school proprietor came to bail us from one Madam Ebere, who claimed to be the Chief Taskforce of the Local Environmental Health.

“After much negotiations from about N350,000, she accepted to collect N130,000 which was the last money in the proprietor’s account. We requested for receipt or account number for remita, but they insisted we withdrew cash from POS and pay the money in cash to bail ourselves.”

The victim further recounted that, while they were still in detention at the Environmental Health Authority, Ogidi, another group of teachers from another school in Obosi was also abducted and brought in by the same team of masked men, in collaboration with the health workers; while and all of them were also subjected to the same inhumane treatment they passed through.

“Our school is Government approved. We are law-abiding and we pay all revenues and ensure we contribute our quota or tax payment because we support the good works of our Solution Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo.

“Even, if they had made any other requests for payment and issued us demand notice, we would have looked into that through our association to know the ones to pay in order to checkmate exploitation or multiple taxation and gotten back to them amicably; but there was nothing like demand notice for anything, only to use brute force to dehumanize and exploit unsuspecting citizens,” she lamented.

Meanwhile, when our reporter contact the Director of Environmental Health Department in Idemili North Local Government Area, Mrs, Beatrice Anene, for her reactions, she acknowledged to be very much aware of the terrible incident of intimidation, manhandling and extortion involving her office and staff; but, however, declined to make any further serious comments on it. after acknowledging that she was

“Yes, I am aware of the incident involving my staff and some schools. Ask the school what they did. I will send you the phone number of the person you will call to get any response you want,” she told our reporter.

However, when our reporter contacted the person, he declined to make comments on the issue, but rather continued expressing displeasure that the Director gave out his phone number without his notice or consent. After saying this, he switched off his phone.

Credit: 247ureports

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