School report exonerates Nigeria Peace Corps Volunteers in Osun students’ unrest

By The Nigerian Voice

The authority of Osogbo High School has exonerated the volunteers of the Nigeria Peace Corps in the students’ unrest that disrupted the peace of Osogbo, capital of Osun State on Wednesday.

The report which was written by the authority of the school and submitted to Osun State Education Quality Assurance and Morality Agency which is investigating the incident gave the NPC volunteers a clean bill of health.

TheExecutive Chairman of the agency, Dr Isiaka Ayodele Owoade confirmed the receipt of the report and added that the Government Technical College whose students were also involved in the matter has also submitted its own report.

It would be recalled that the students of Osogbo High School and their counterparts from Government Technical College clashed on Wednesday in which they caused traffic gridlock on the Olusegun Obasanjo High way in Osogbo.

Dr Owoade said the reports would be scrutinised and that necessary steps would be taken to stop the incessant fight between the students of the two schools. He said the age long crises between the two schools would be addressed rather than treating the recent clash in isolation.

The report submitted by the authority of Osogbo High School exonerated the volunteers of the Nigeria Peace Corps and faulted the students of Government for their uncivilised conduct.

According to the excerpts from the report, “Staff and students of Osogbo High School were in their respective duty posts peacefully in the morning on 22-02-2017, till about 10.30am with grades 10 and 11 students receiving lectures while grade 12 were busy writing their mock examinations before the arrival of the students from the Technical College Osogbo who besieged the gate of Osogbo High School in an attempt to come inside the school with the intention to fight”.

“They bombarded the school in their large number with rains of stones which they hurled into the school compound from the main road. They were resisted entry by the security men in the school. The overall chairman of the school PTA who was personally around in the school called the attention of the principal of Government Technical College to the rampage of the students of his school.”

“The principal came around with some of his teachers. His presence suppressed the move of the students who retreated for a while only to resurface again about 15 minutes later in larger number with cutlasses, axes, iron rods, heavy metal objects and stones.”

In an attempt to gain entry into the school from the front gate, they pull down the wall of the school, hurled stones into the school, destroying cars of teachers. As at this time, the security forces had been alerted and they had arrived and helped to dismiss them.”

“Before the police men could go away from Osogbo High School Compound, the Government Technical College students had again made incursion from the near (back of the school compound) as there was no barricading perimeter fencing to bar them from entry. They came in and vandalized the security men’s residence in the compound among others.”

“Each time the policemen dispersed them they staged a come-back with renewed force, throwing stones into the school, brandishing cutlasses, axes, etc. All along the members of staff of Osogbo High School were able to curtail the movement of the students of the school within the school premises.”

“By 1.45pm, when the policemen who were on ground gave us the assurance of the restored peace and guaranteed the safety of our students, they were released to go home.”

The state commandant of the Nigeria Peace Corps, Mr Ayinde Paul Kayode told newsmen that the crisis was as a result of the refusal of students of the Government Technical College to respect the order of the authority of Osogbo High School which forbids them (technical college students) from passing through the gate of the Osogbo High school.

He explained that the allegation of extortion levelled against the volunteers of the Nigeria Peace Corps was not true, saying that it was a blatant lie fabricated by the students of the Government Technical College to indict the NPC volunteers and divert attention from the real issue of disobedient that is common among the students of the Government Technical College.

Ayinde noted that the report of the authority of the Osogbo High School has exonerated his men “My men would never extort any student. They dare not do that. We never received such report of extortion against NPC volunteers.”

The commandant decried the arraignment of the NPC volunteers at the court by the Osun State Police Command as he expressed worry that the volunteers should not have been taken as criminals where they were diligently carrying out their lawful duties to maintain law and order and ensure security of lives and properties in the area.

The police had arraigned two volunteers of the Nigeria Peace Corps, Olanike Akinwande and Akande Olawale along with a student of Government Technical College Osogbo, Olorunfemi Abiodun over the crisis.

Committing conspiracy to wit assault occasion harm and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 516 of the Criminal Code, Cap 34, Volume II, Laws of Osun State, Nigeria, 2003.

The police Prosecutor, Inspector Abiodun Fagboyinbo told the court that on Wednesday, 22nd of February, 2017, the accused persons assaulted one Oladele Anthony Olawale, Akanfe Nurudeen and others by beating them with sticks, broken bottles and some other weapons to the extent that they sustained injury.

Counsel to the first accused person, Mr Okebe Najite and the counsel to the Nigeria Peace Corps volunteers, Bosede Dada sought for bail for their clients but the prosecutor opposed the bail on the excuse that if they are granted bail, it would aggravate the tension in the state.

The presiding judge, Chief Magistrate Fatimah Sodamade declined the bail of the accused persons and remanded them in the Ilesa prison. The judge adjourned the matter till 10th of April, 2017.

In a chat with journalists outside the court, Ayinde said “Our men should not have been arraigned as the accused persons in this matter as it was clear that they were performing their lawful duties at the Osogbo grammar school that they were posted to.”

“Our lawyers would do the necessary things as directed by the court to secure the bail of the NPC volunteers. Our men were not indicted by anyone and in fact, the school authority exonerated them in the crises. Therefore, their arraignment came to us as a rude shock.”

“The NPC volunteers should not have been painted as criminals in this situation as they have not done anything wrong. There are NPC volunteers in all the schools all over the state and the parents and teachers could testify to the good work that we are doing”, Ayinde said.