The students were protesting the death of one of their own.
The Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, on Tuesday ordered students of the Idogbo Secondary School in Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area, to pay for all school property destroyed during a recent protest over the death of one of their colleagues in a road accident.
The governor, during an assessment of the damage to the school property, directed the state Ministry of Lands to immediately demolish, without notice, all illegal structures put up by trespassers of the school and other public schools’ lands.
Mr. Oshiomhole, however, insisted that the students had no reason to resort to violence that resulted in the destruction of their school facilities, no matter the provocation.
“If teachers could be sanctioned in Edo State for flouting education directives, students who destroy school property are no exemption to punishment,” he said.
A junior student of the school was crushed less than a kilometre from the school premises by a hit-and-run vehicle last week while playing football on the road on his way home from school. The boy reportedly died later in an unnamed hospital, even as good Samaritans tried in vain to save him.
It was gathered that fellow students while protesting the incident resorted to destruction of the school property, blaming the school principal for the accident and accusing him of refusing to abandon the WAEC examination that was ongoing to take the student to the hospital on time.
Angered by the level of destruction of school property by the irate students, the principal (name withheld), who reportedly told the students that his authority over them was limited to the gates of the school premises, reported the matter to the state government.
Mr. Oshiomhole, who rushed down to the school to attempt an assessment of the situation, condemned the students for their poor conduct.
“Let me advise you very strongly that on no account should you vandalise government property and, in particular, on no account should you vandalise your own school. It is like if you are annoyed over one thing or the other you tear your own shirt. Will that make sense? Unfortunately, someone was knocked down by a car and he died. It’s very unfortunate. We are still trying to find out the role of the teacher: whether the death was preventable or who was responsible. I assure you once the facts are clear government will take the right decision, because, as a government, the life of every person living in Edo State is important to us and it is even more so when we are talking of children,” he said.
The governor, still admonishing the students, reminded them that the schools were built with tax payers’ monies. He added that the government was devoting more of its resources to build “beautiful primary schools and beautiful secondary schools so that all of you would be able to learn in an environment that is clean and by teachers who are well paid.”
He told the students that once the school has taken an account of the damages, parents would be asked to pay for them or risk the suspension of their children from the school.
“We will ask your parents to pay for it within a limited time and if they don’t pay for it, the students will be suspended from school and they will not be admitted in any government school in Edo State.”
He added that he had been briefed of illegal structures erected on the school’s land- which is government land- saying, “As I am going back now, I will direct the Ministry of Lands and Survey to demolish and destroy any property on government land without any notice. We don’t need to give them warning because they are illegal. We need to make the point that there is state authority. You encroach on government school, the risk is yours. Then when we begin to take those steps, people will learn to respect public interest.”