Apart from learning, Ewu Methodist Primary School, Ewutuntun, Lagos appears to serve other purposes for different segment of the Lagos society, DUSTAN AGHEDO writes.
Although Ewu Methodist Primary School located in Ewutuntun community in Mafoluku area of Oshodi, Lagos State is well known to many residents of the state as a citadel of learning, it means even more to miscreants and peddlers that use the premises for their nefarious activities.
New residents in the popular Ogundele Street in Ewutuntun community of Mafoluku, Oshodi, where the school is located are often confused when they are referred into the compound for other purposes.
Ordinarily, there seemed to be a well laid down plan for both primary schools located in the compound, which measures about eight plots of land spreading across two streets. But with invasion of miscreants, traders, artisans and market women, the primary schools have become a shadow of itself.
LEADERSHIP Sunday check in the school premises showed that the school has become a den of criminals whose stock in trade is to carry out all manners of criminal activities and defecate openly in the full glare of people.
From the gate of the school one is confronted with stern looking men who throng the compound to smoke cigarette and Indian hemp in broad daylight.
Our correspondent observed that the problem of the school is compounded because the school fence serves as makeshift cubicles for shops and business activities from all sorts of traders; ranging from cigarette sellers, alcoholic drinks, restaurants, car wash, gas fillers, cobblers, even those who sell tea and food stuffs, amongst other related business activities in the region.
LEADERSHIP Sunday investigation also revealed that the school premises is more of a shopping complex than a study centre with the classrooms converted to a place for defecation, a place to pass the night, rendezvous spot for peddlers, hoodlums, a perfect haven for marijuana smokers, amongst others.
Of major concern also is the fact that a liquid Petroleum Gas depot, where people come to fill their cooking gas cylinders is located at the main entrance of the gate of the school. It is obvious from their operations that they have no shop but occupy a van parked within a distance from the entrance of the school, where they fill gas cylinders for their customers in the open.
Interestingly, one does not need to be told that the DAF van found in the environs with a full registration number, had been abandoned and converted into a shop.
Although, the primary school was fenced round, residents said the miscreants have succeeded in creating four illegal entrances and exits through a nearby Babayanju street to facilitate easy entrance from their preferred points.
These openings, it was gathered formed illegal entry points into and out of the school premises for the ‘Area Boys’ who do not have to use the main gate.
Confirming the activities of the miscreants, a resident, Udeh Jonah who rides a commercial Motor cycle popularly known as ‘Okada’ for a living within the community, said the street urchins are fond of using the school, either for smoking hemp or to defecate.
The Okada rider from Benue State added that he was not surprised because since he started living there four months ago, he had observed that children between ages of 14 to 20 go into the school to smoke with ease.
Another resident at Ogundele Street who simply identified himself as James said, the issue has been an open secret and that everyone knows that the school is a den of criminals.
“My brother this thing you are talking is not new. We see them everyday, they storm the school with all kinds of behaviours. It is an open secret and everybody knows that all kinds of bad things happen inside the school both day and night. My advice is that government should do something,” the resident informed.
Also speaking to LEADERSHIP Sunday, obviously not amused by moral decadence caused by seeming abandonment of the better part of facility, the chairman of Ewutuntun Community Development Association (CDA) and Vice-chairman, Ogundele Youth Forum (OYF) and the Youth Ambassador of the area, Bosun Fash said they have tried their best in the community to restore sanity in the school premises to no avail.
He explained that it was not quite long he cautioned two young adults whose ages ranged between 17 to 22 years that entered one of the buildings of Methodist primary school to indulge in vices as a means to please themselves.
Fash who lamented the situation of the school said the school has been in total shambles for a very long time and thus it took the intervention of himself, the community and youths to ensure the pupils still have a learning environment.
He called on leaders of churches, mosques and prominent individuals to use their good offices and influence to reverse the situation considering the implications and adverse effects such wayward living is having on the youths.
The community leader also condemned the practices of some security personnel who according to him come around at any time to smoke and drink, adding that if the community doesn’t come together to put a stop to it, the government would not.
“We need help from the government, the fence needs to be erected, we need security. If we can get reliable officers it will help because you see even officers in uniforms coming out here to smoke while students might be inside learning and when you tell them it’s not right they try to oppress you.
“A lot of people have come around to check the schools and its environs including the local government, Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Local Government Education Authority (LGEA), the council people they come around.
“They will come, take pictures, measurements, but afterwards we don’t see them again. Like SUBEB, they come around to inspect but we end up not seeing them again.”
Fash stressed that while they may have put in place control measures to curb the present situation, the schools and its environs are very much in dire need of government’s intervention before things get out of hand.
He added, “I try to coordinate the school premises because it is directly opposite my house where I happen to be the landlord. The school itself has been in shambles for a very long time, about 18 to 20 years now. It is loose and not secure. The other side, Babayanju, the fence has been down for the past four to five years; there is no gate, so it is widely open and highly insecure and as such easy for people to gain entrance to commit illegal and criminal acts including smoking, defecation and at night sleep in the premises.
“This is particularly very porous for the youths especially those around the neighbourhood and pupils, making the environment inadequate, unsafe and not soothing for academic learning processes.
“But the CDA alongside members of the OYF, we have contributed our own quota to curb the situation. We have contributed to the fencing of the frontage, most of the buildings were renovated by us. Looking at the administrative block where we changed the roof, the paintings, the iron windows; even the entrance gate was done by the CDA and OYF,” he added.
On how the school got to its sordid state, the Headmaster of Ewutuntun Primary School, Lawal Taoreed declined comments, saying he is not authorised to speak on the issue on the grounds that he is just a public servant.
“I am not competent to grant any interview, I am standing on directives of my top officers, so I would need permission from my superior officer to grant interviews,” Taoreed said.
Efforts to get the opinion of the Headmistress, Methodist Primary School also proved abortive as she was unavailable.
However, a source from the school speaking to LEADERSHIP Sunday said that the issue of miscreants is not new to the school.
The source revealed that some of the hoodlums even go as far as harassing the female teachers, noting that timely intervention of security operatives do save them from being molested.
He appealed to SUBEB and Local Government authorities to come to the school’s rescue saying, “The School Base Management Committee (SBMC) members made arrangements for security agents to make sure that they keep vigil on the environment, even at night but that has not tackled the reality of things here.
“We have four locations that are porous, already pulled down and used to gain easy access and entrance to the school compound.
“SUBEB have visited us here and have seen the measure of damages but we are still waiting for them to keep to their promise and do something.
“The residents are trying their best but not withstanding, more efforts need to be put in place to arrest the situation and as such, putting security and fence in place cannot be overemphasised.”
When LEADERSHIP Sunday took the matter to Oshodi/Isolo Local Government, an official at the Education department told our correspondent that the Chairman of the Local government is aware of the situation.
The official who spoke under condition of anonymity said, “The LGA Chairman is aware of the fact that some schools are porous in the local government. For that he has initiated a project to fence the schools. You know he cannot do it once but in phases. He has already started and I hope it will get there.”
LEADERSHIP Sunday contacted the Public Relations Officer (PRO), SUBEB, Seyi Akintoye to get his reactions, however the PRO said he was not in the position to give details of plans that the board has to ensure that the school is sanitised, stating that the board stands for excellence.
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