Be Fair, Thorough, Impartial, Group Tells Perm Sec Imo Education Ministry

–      Commends IMHA For Distancing Self From Core Civil Service Issues

Imo Democracy and Accountability Monitoring Group, that is committed to ensuring transparency in all ramifications, has called on the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Barr Mrs Chinyere Ibe to be fair, thorough and impartial in handling issues arising from the numerous petitions written and addressed to the House of Assembly Committee on Education by some aggrieved Principals and other staff of the Secondary Education Management Board SEMB, who despite having reportedly retired in line with civil service rules and guidelines are allegedly plotting to falsify their service records in connivance with their contemporaries who are still in service.

The Coordinator of the group Comrade Kevin Awujor who stated this while addressing journalists in Owerri, the Imo State capital yesterday, said, “it has come to our notice that some Principals and other staff of SEMB who were supposed to retire between 2020 and 2022 but falsified their records and stayed uptil 2023 are still seeking re-instatement by scheming and plotting to further alter their records with the assistance of some of their corrupt and fraudulent contemporaries who are still in service.

Our investigation also reveals that part of the problem of the current Executive Secretary of SEMB, is her refusal to compromise, accept gratifications or join the old order where members of the cabal who dictated the pace got whatever they wanted by throwing money around”.

“We commend the Chairman and members of the House of Assembly Committee on Education, for distancing themselves from the frivolous petitions and other core civil service issues and directing those involved to seek redress through appropriate channels within the civil service”.

“We are also aware that some Principals including the President of All Coalition of Principals of Secondary Schools ANCOPSS, in Imo State, Mr Duru, who retired in July last year in line with civil service rules and later applied for 1-year extension is among those who forwarded petitions to the House of Assembly, seeking re-instatement. He is also allegedly to have formally applied to change his date of birth from 1963 to 1964 and later from 1964 to 1965 but his request was not granted”.

Another source who pleaded anonymity said, a former principal of Ikenegbu Secondary School, Mrs Abigail Nwimo who remained in service uptil 2023 despite reports that her contemporaries retired since 2014 is among those who sent petitions seeking re-instatement because most of them have allegedly falsified their records and documents or are at the verge of falsifying them”.

A retired staff of SEMB who spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity said, “I don’t understand why some people take delight in doing what is wrong. I was with Mrs Abigail Nwimo at Ikenegbu Girls Secondary School, Owerri, when she wrote in one of the school’s record books that she was born in 1961. The most annoying aspect of her case is that after making several unsuccessful attempts to elongate her stay by all means, she not only resorted to blackmail but also locked up her office and went home with the key, thereby keeping the person who was posted to replace her outside for several weeks despite the intervention of the then Commissioner for Education who earlier approved her retirement”.

“There is also the case of a former principal of Naze Secondary School, in Owerri North LGA who was allegedly involved in age falsification scandal sometime ago but was let off the hook in questionable circumstances before Mrs Tina Azubuike assumed office as Executive Secretary of SEMB. She is also among those who forwarded petitions to the House of Assembly seeking re-instatement”

“What baffles most of us is that they are all claiming that there was one error or the other in their service records, hence they should be re-instated to enable them benefit from the extension granted by the state government”.

Another retired Principal who does not want her name in print, said, “I was informed recently by some of my colleagues that the former Principal of Akwakuma Sec School, Mrs Nwokolo retired in March 2023 before the current Executive Secretary assumed office in July 2023. Yet they are spreading false and malicious stories that the latter was instrumental to her retirement”.

Most of those who commented on the spate of petitions by retirees who are suspiciously claiming that there were errors in their service records, urged the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education to dissociate herself from all primordial sentiments and discharge her duties without fear or favour because Imolites are watching. Besdies, the way she handles the issues at stake in line with the available overwhelming evidence will make or mar her career integrity and reputation. More so, when some of those who submitted the petitions are already celebrating their victory on the ground that they can influence the Permanent Secretary. They also wondered why almost all those who petitioned against their retirement are from Mbaise, just like the Chairman, House Committee on Education Hon Agbasonu, who later bowed to good reason by distancing himself and his committee from the petitions which should under normal circumstances be handled as an entirety civil service affair”.

Imo Democracy and Accountability Monitoring Group, also called on the state government to as a matter of urgency streamline all issues concerning the extension granted to teachers by stipulating the modalities, who is entitled to benefit and the terms and conditions to avoid the prevailing confusion.