A former Commissioner for Education in Ebonyi, Ndubuisi Chibueze-Agbo, has decried the closure of his three schools by the Ebonyi State Government.
Mr. Chibueze-Agbo, who was a commissioner under former Governor Martin Elechi, via a statement he issued on Wednesday in Abakaliki, said government’s action amounted to infringement of his fundamental rights and impunity.
Mr. Chibueze-Agbo, a chieftain of All Progressives Congress, APC, said government’s action was designed to silence vocal members of the opposition.
He said that the closure of his three schools and revocation of Certificates of Occupancy of the three property are tantamount to “abuse of power, intimidation, executive lawlessness and designed to muzzle voices of the opposition.’’
According to him, the closure of the three schools located in different parts of Ezzamgbo in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi were without recourse to due process and the rule of law.
The three schools sealed are: Royal Comprehensive College, Ezzamgbo, Mandate International Secondary School, Ezzangbo and Royal Demonstration Nursery and Primary School.
“The schools were closed on the orders of the state governor on Sept. 20, just seven days after I wrote an open letter to the President against the governor, complaining over abuse of power and executive lawlessness.
“The schools are located in different parts of Ezzangbo with different title deeds, but the governor used only one C-of-O which was pasted in one of the schools to announce revocation of the entire property.
“The action of the governor is illegal, unconstitutional and undemocratic as Certificate of Occupancy in private property can only be revoked based on overriding public interest, and owners adequately compensated.
“More worrisome is that the revocation order which contained only the date and signature of the governor, did not contain reasons for revocation as stipulated by law,” Mr. Chibueze-Agbo said.
The former commissioner also said that he had petitioned the Commissioner of Police in Ebonyi on the purported revocation, sealing of the three schools and continued police presence in the property.
Emma Uzo, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dave Umahi, who reacted, described the allegations as replete with falsehood, malicious and unfounded.
He said: “It is not true. Accusing the governor of sealing his school is not true.
“He evaded tax for many years even as a serving commissioner and he lied on oath that he was paying his tax.
“And you know tax evasion is a criminal matter and revenue collectors are empowered by law to arrest and prosecute tax defaulters.
“It was the revenue collectors when they found out that he was evading tax payments who sealed the schools; the governor has no hand in the closure of the schools,” Uzo said.
Also, John Eke, Commissioner for Education, told NAN that the schools were sealed by officials charged with collection of Internally Generated Revenue, IGR.
Mr. Eke said that his predecessor only obtained partial title document for one of the schools which he photocopied and used for the two other schools.
“I don’t know what he is feeding the press with, but I know that he evaded tax payments for years and the IGR officials came after him.
“He has only one partial document for one of the schools which he photocopied and used for the other two schools that have no title deeds.
“His allegation is false and I challenge him to produce the documents of the other property if he has any,” Mr. Eke said.
The Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Ebonyi Command, Lovett Odah, when contacted declined comment saying that she has no information on the issue.
“The Command will investigate and make appropriate response, but for now, I cannot say anything,” Ms. Odah said.