Imo State Commissioner for Education, Prof. BTO Ikegwuoha, has once more denied directing principals of junior and senior secondary schools and those of primary schools in the state to impose any form of levies or extra-ordinary fess on their students and pupils respectively. 

The Commissioner for Education was reacting to an Oziza FM news flash which reported that the principal of Orji Comprehensive Secondary School, Owerri North LGA, one Mrs Amaliri had in collaboration with the NECO examiner, imposed and forcefully collected the sum of N3,500 from each of the NECO candidates. 

It was alleged that same imposition of levies has been going on since the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) started few months ago with the principals of Government Secondary School, Owerri principal of Urban Secondary School World Bank Housing Estate Owerri and that of Boys (Model) Secondary School situate also at the World Bank Housing Estate Owerri, imposing various sum of levies long after the candidates had registered for the external examinations at more than N39,000 each, including cost of issuing school testimonials.

Presently at the notorious Urban Secondary School World Bank Housing Estate, New Owerri, the extortionist principal who usually boasts of obtaining the authority of the top staff of Ministry of  Education has reintroduced the payment of N500 per NECO candidate for NECO testimonial, implying that there are now two sets of testimonials, the SSCE testimonial and the NECO testimonial to be issued to students after examinations. During the SSCE, each, student was forced to submit the result sheets or scripts after each subject written  with a minimum of N1000subjects such as a Mathematics and English Language attracted N3,000 each.

Like the principals of government secondary school and Boys Model Secondary School, New Owerri, the principal of Urban Secondary School World Bank Estate Owerri started by imposing environmental levy of N500 per candidate, Parents Teachers Association (PTA) levy of N3000 per candidate and other sundry levies, said to be authorized and approved by the Imo State Ministry of Education. 

While denying knowledge or collaboration in the new imposition, forceful collection and approval of such illegal levies and fees, Prof. B.T.O Ikegwuoha said”,     

“I salute you for bringing the information concerning illegal fees of N3,500 being charged to students that are presently sitting for NECO examination and allegedly collected at the Orji Comprehensive Secondary School by the Principal: Mrs. Amaliri in collaboration with the NECO examiner. Although investigation is ongoing, I must categorically and authoritatively inform you that, as the Hon. Commissioner for Education, I did not directly, indirectly or through words, body language or by any proxy or delegation of authority, or other known or unknown means authorize any Principal to collect any fee or fees for whatever name or means, for the purpose of any external or internal examination such as WAEC, NABTEB, NECO, etc. Consequently, any teacher, Principal who indulge such illegal collection of fees, will be sanctioned according to extant Civil (Public) Service Rules.

Let it be further stated that the Ministry of Education flagged off the distribution of sanitizers and facemasks provided by His Excellency, Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma, the Governor of Imo State to all schools (free of charge) in Imo State at the Government Secondary School, Owerri. In fact, most leading tabloid newspaper representatives were present, Trumpeter, Big Truth, etc. on Thursday, October 15, 2020. This is verifiable!

Please take your time and go to interview some Principals of Secondary Schools, including Ikenegbu Girls’ Secondary School, Government Secondary School, Owerri and many others, they will tell you that *infrared thermometers* were provided to all school before the commencement of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Examination.  One would have expected that the some infrared thermometers purchased by the Imo State Government and used for WAEC, NABTEB would have been good enough to be re-used for NECO. What is needed in most cases is the change of batteries and power storage after use and if for any reason any of the infrared thermometers is damaged, faulty or lost, should the Hon. Commissioner for Education not be informed in writing for replacement?

Let me assure you at the Oziza FM Station, to be at liberty to invite me to appear in person to clarify some of these allegations being peddled against the Imo State Government and the Hon. Commissioner for Education. Remember the dictum, which says: “he who alleges must prove”. The burden of proof is on the accuser and the accused deserve the right to face his or her accuser. Talk is cheap but facts are sacred”.

Records available to Nigeria Watchdog exonerates Ikenegbu Girls from the imposition and collection of these illegal fees and levies no other principal especially at the World Bank Housing Estate can deny ever imposing and enforcing collection of illegal levies (PTA) submission of scripts and environmental sanitation all of which were initiated by principal of Government Secondary School, Owerri the moment SSCE candidates were recalled to set for exams.