No fewer than 40 hoodlums have invaded a private school, Shalom Group of Schools, Baruwa, Ipaja, Lagos State.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the students and management of the school could not enter the premises as the main entrance was blocked by the land grabbers, popularly referred to as Omo-Onile.
The Proprietress of the school, Mrs. Adedayo Odeka, on Monday, said one Kaka led the hoodlums.
“He claimed that they won a court judgement to take possession of our land.
“I told him to show me the judgement, as I was not aware of any court case let alone judgment but he refused,” she added.
Odeka said the land was allocated to them by the Federal Government in 1992 and a school was built on it.
“Coming out overnight and claiming the land is uncalled for.
“This land, we have been occupying it for 30 years; students have been graduating year in, year out.
“The land is a Federal Government allocation; we don’t have any dealings with Omo Onile; we have all our documents,” she added.
The proprietress said the hoodlums came on Saturday and damaged the school fence and railings to enter the compound, forcing boarding students to vacate.
She claimed that the case was reported at the Ipaja Police Station.
“When the case was reported, the police reluctantly followed us to the site after much pressure but could not act as the hoodlums continued with the erection of the structures,” she said.
She urged the government to arrest and prosecute the suspects.
A security guard, Mr Micheal Yakubu, claimed that over 40 hoodlums, who were led by Kaka, invaded the school around 6am on Saturday.
“They broke the wall and removed the two main gates to gain access, claiming that the land belonged to them.
“They brought in sand and blocks and started digging and erecting structures on the school field.
“After erecting the structures beyond nine coaches, they blocked the two entrances with blocks, put a small gate, and locked it,” he said.
A parent, Mr. Osagie Igebo, said it was disheartening for a group of people to traumatise young children and send them out of school.
He said, “We have to change this narrative; even if there is a dispute on the property, it should be resolved amicably.”
A boarder in the school, Miss Success Afolayan, a senior secondary two student, said she felt traumatised when the hoodlums invaded the school.
“This is going to affect our education, as we do not know when it will be resolved,” she added.
The school Principal, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Okafor, said the miscreants destroyed the school property.
She said, “They destroyed the wall and iron rails and burgled the generator house.
“We were not given audience; the security agents were standing by their side with guns, threatening to shoot us if we talked.
“We were left with no option than to call the parents of the boarders, who live in Lagos, to pick them up, while we pleaded with some teachers and parents to take those who live outside Lagos home with them.
“Our students are preparing for WASCE, NECO and JAMB; they just came to disrupt the school activities.”
Another parent, Mr Ebenezer Akande, a civil servant, said he was shocked when he saw that the two main gates were blocked.
“As you can see, the children cannot access the school.
“The Lagos State Government should wake up and do something concerning these land grabbers,” he said.
The Registrar of the school, Mr Akinola Adebayo, said he got an invitation letter from the Zone 2 Police Command, Onikan, that someone wrote a petition against him.
He said, “When I got there on Thursday, they said they had a petition against me, that I was using charms and cultists to chase Omo-Onile away from their land.
“I told them that I don’t know the petitioner; after I answered the petition, the police asked the two parties (the Omo-Onile) and (Shalom school) to come back today, Monday, January 30. But I was surprised that the Omo-Onile invaded the school on Saturday. When we called the police, they said there was nothing they could do.”
Adebayo urged the government to intervene in the matter so the children could go back to school.
Some of the students carried cardboards with several inscriptions, including, “Education is our right”, “Say no to Omo-onile oppressors”, “The future is weeping”, “Kaka, why take our right from us”, “Omo-Onile, why send us out of our school”, “Government, come to our rescue, save us from land grabbers,” among others.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, who confirmed the incident, urged the parties to resolve amicably.
He said, “The case is not a police case; it is a civil case.
“I will urge the parties not to take laws into their hands so that a civil case will not turn to a criminal case.”