Delta education commissioner orders lesson centre closure
By Nosa Akenzua
The commissioner for basic and secondary education, Chief Patrick Ukah, has ordered the immediate closure of all private lesson centres in the state, adding that the decision became necessary in the interest of public good.
Ukah gave this order when members of the Delta State Child Rights Implementation Committee paid him an advocacy visit in his office on Wednesday in Asaba.
Ukah affirmed that if the committee had been backed by law, his job had been made easier in taking certain decisions affecting child protection in the state.
He said his ministry needed practical partnership with the committee in working out meticulous strategies to sweep off roaming street children and put mechanism in place to deal with offences against children.
The commissioner immediately instructed the director in charge of the department of advocacy and mentoring in the ministry, Dr. Emechili, to commence working with the committee towards building a strong synergy for the mentoring of school children in the state.
Earlier in their request, the committee chairman, Mrs. Kevwe Agas, had appealed to the commissioner to investigate the activities of the proprietor of a particular lesson centre over allegations of their involvement in serial molestation, rape and sexual assault on their female students.
Agas reminded the commissioner that, as a critical stakeholder in the implementation of the Child Rights Law as domesticated in Delta state in 2009, the focus of the law was to ensure that children were able to maximise their potentials through the four components of the law – child survival, child protection, child development and child participation. In addition, the executive assistant to the governor on special duties, Barr. Bridget Anyafulu, reported a number of rape and sexual assault cases involving the operator of the same lesson centre on minors under their care, which the committee had handled in the last one year.
Anyafulu stressed that the suspects had a way of making their rape victims stop talking after a case of either molestation, rape or sexual abuse had been opened. She pointed out that, in the last case, the 17-year-old girl became a hostile witness against her family, while, in another case, the girl’s family was pressured into accepting to settle without involving either her committee and police.
Her words, “We can’t continue to condone such lawlessness and outright disregard to constituted authority. We are using this advocacy to sound a note of warning: that we are ready to implement the law. We can as well arrest anybody who succumbs to pressures from law breakers as well as victims who refuse to testify or are compromised,” Anyafulu posited.