The National Youth Service Corps Scheme is compulsory for Nigerians who graduate before the age of 30 and it is an experience many graduates look forward to.
The scheme, however, left sorrow in the family of Oluwatobiloba Popoola, a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife who was posted to Bayelsa State for service.
Mr Popoola was killed on March 21 at Victory International School, Swali Yenagoa in Bayelsa State where he was posted for primary his assignment.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that some hoodlums attacked the school while Mr Popoola and his colleagues were marking the students’ examination scripts. He eventually died in the attack.
The victim’s brother, Jacob Popoola, told PREMIUM TIMES that the family was demanding a thorough investigation and justice for the victim.
“He lived with the proprietor of the school alongside his colleagues. But I was called on 22 of March and informed that some hoodlums attacked Corps members in the school and that our son was killed. I left my place of work immediately.
“I proceeded to Oyo NYSC office and they told me the report they heard was that they were attacked while marking examination scripts,” Jacob said.
He said the Bayelsa State NYSC coordinator later asked the family to apply to bring the corpse to Oyo State. The body arrived at the state on March 30 and was handed over to the family for burial.
“When they came, the NYSC representative brought the sum of N100,000 as consolation fee which I initially rejected. But the NYSC coordinator called back pleading that the family should take the money and we eventually did.
“Our worry was, however, that the proprietor of the school or any representative of the school where he was serving did not even call or show any sympathy, despite the fact that NYSC told us that they had provided our contact details to the school. He then told us they will never send corps members to the place again.”
The family said the refusal of the school to show up and explain how their son was killed denied the family the consolation of getting a clear picture of the incident.
“We also expected that the police would get in touch but they refused until last week that the Bayelsa State Police spokesperson called to apologise for the police force”, he said.
“The police emphasised that our son did not have links with the hoodlums. But unfortunately, we are yet to know the steps being taken for justice.”
The mother of the deceased, Mrs Oladoyinbo, said her son was never a cultist or involved with any illegal group.
“We want the police to get to the roots of this matter and allow justice to prevail,” she said.
School Proprietor Mum
PREMIUM TIMES made several efforts to reach out to the Proprietor of Victory International School, Jerry Yeseme, in Yenagoa; but the efforts did not yield success.
When PREMIUM TIMES first contacted him, Mr Yeseme told our correspodent to send him text messages.
He has, however, refused to respond to subsequent calls and text messages on the matter. He also blocked this reporters phone number from reaching him.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the Bayelsa State coordinator of NYSC, Loto B. O, she said the scheme had sympathised with the family of the deceased.
A letter of condolence obtained by PREMIUM TIMES reads: “With our heart full of grief, the director general of NYSC, staff and all corps members in Bayelsa State sympathise with the family of Popoola over the death of a patriotic Corps member”
“The death came as great question to us coming at a time when the family and the nation needed him most. Words cannot express how we feel. But we pray the Almighty God will give the departed soul eternal rest and the family fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”
The Bayelsa State Police spokesperson, Asinim Butswat, said he was supprised that the school where the incident happened had not reached out to the family of the deceased.
“I have been involved with the brother of the deceased, Jacob. I understand the family’s plight concerning the death of their son. We have assured them that justice will be done by arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators.”
He said a thorough investigation was ongoing on the matter.
On the negligence of the the school where the incident happened, the police spokesperson said: “I would not know why he didn’t reach out to them. How will somebody contributing to your school be killed without you showing interest in what happened to his family? I will try again and keep in touch as investigation goes on.”