–        We’ve Been Following The Matter Since It Came Up In 2017

By Martin Opara

Imo Democracy and Accountability Monitoring Group (IDAMG) a non governmental organization that strives to ensure accountability in governance at all levels has said that the current Executive Secretary of Secondary Education Management Board (SEMB), in Imo State, Mrs Tina Azubuike and the Commissioner for Education Prof John Cliff Nwadike are not in any way involved in the alleged sale of land at Ara Secondary School, in Owerri West Local Government Area, stressing that the issue has been a recurring decimal since, 2017, when Sir C.O.E Chukwu, was the Executive Secretary of Secondary Education Management Board and Barr Mrs Oby Anyikude was the Director, Legal Unit.

The group, while reacting to online reports written and circulated by one Dan Opara and his cohorts in the so-called Okponkunews, said, “Mrs Tina Azubuike assumed office in June last year, while Prof John Cliff Nwadike also assumed office a bit earlier.

Our investigation reveals that, somebody built a gas plant at Ara Secondary School in 2017, when Sir C.O.E Chukwu and Barr Mrs Anyikude were in their respective positions, as mentioned above. Barr Anyikude handled the matter then, in her capacity as Director, Legal Unit. The matter came up again when Mrs Anyikude had become the Executive Secretary of SEMB and Prof Ikegwuoha was Commissioner for Education. When the matter subsequently came to the knowledge of the Governor, at whose instance the school was surveyed, it was discovered that, the said building was actually on school land. This, prompted the management of SEMB to invite the traditional rulers of the school’s three host communities who also confirmed that the house in question is situated on school land. Those who encroached on the land were then written by SEMB to vacate the land and desist from further encroachment.

It is therefore an act of wickedness to accuse those who assumed office several years after the land was encroached on of being involved in the reprehensible act which we also condemn in very strong terms”.

“We are also aware that the former Principal of the School, Miss Ogechi Amadi, whose transfer was referred to as an act of vendetta in the false, misleading and malicious report written and circulated by Dan Opara and his Okponkunews colleague in different media platforms, was involved in unethical, and unprofessional conduct that borders on extortion, insubordination and violation of government directive.

It is on record that Miss Ogechi Amadi, contrary to the directive of the Ministry of Education, through the Secondary Education Management Board, that students should be registered for the West African Education Council (WAEC) examination with the sum of #32,000, collected #65,000 for WAEC from the students and 15,700 for Junior WAEC instead of #6,500 stipulated by government. There is enough evidence to prove this, and she has already started refunding the excess.

She reportedly did this, despite the fact that the current SEMB Executive Secretary Mrs Azubuike, convened a meeting at Government College Owerri, where she publicly told Principals not to collect anything more than #32,000 for WAEC registration and 6,500 for Junior WAEC. She also made radio announcements to that effect, in addition to sending text messages to Principals”

“It is probably because of this act of insubordination and gross official misconduct that she was redeployed to the Secondary Education Management Board, Owerri Zone I, in line with the Governor, Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma administration’s zero-tolerance for corruption and attendant vices and to also serve as a deterrent to others of like mind.

We have gone to this extent to put the records straight to avoid a situation where the names of honest and hardworking public officers with impeccable track records who are doing their best to sanitize the system and change the narrative are dented by disgruntled and unscrupulous  elements who have several skeletons in their cupboards”.

“It has also come to our notice that the immediate past Executive Secretary of SEMB, Mrs Adaugo Nwanebo, contrary to laid down rules, regulations and guidelines of the civil service, allegedly rented out part of the premises of SEMB, Owerri Zone I and Ikenegbu Girls Secondary School to commercial car wash operators, in addition to leasing a portion of land at Ara Secondary School, for the building of a bore hole. She is also alleged to have in partnership with Chinasa Nwaneri, former Special Adviser, Special Duties to the Governor leased out part of the land that belongs to Development Secondary School, along Douglas Road Owerri, to an individual who has already built a house there. The Governor is already aware of this.

A community source who confided in this reporter said, “we have it on good authority that the former SEMB Executive Secretary Mrs Adaugo Nwanebo, leased out the land at Ara Secondary School to a bore hole operator, at the rate of #70,000 per annum in 2021. The person paid for two years and is supposed to start paying the school rent in November, 2024, in line with his agreement with Mrs Nwanebo and Mrs Nwanna, who was the Principal then. However, when the current Principal reportedly got hint of the shady transaction, she halted it and reported the matter to the Management of SEMB prompting Mrs Azubuike to minute the matter to the incumbent Director of Legal Unit at SEMB, Barr Iwuoma for necessary action, thereby distancing and dissociating herself from the unlawful act perpetrated by her predecessor”.

Having extensively monitored and investigated all issues concerning the alleged sale of Ara Secondary School land, leasing of government premises at Oweri Zonal Education Board, Ikenegbu Girls Secondary School and Development Secondary School, all in Owerri we, hereby warn purveyors of false, malicious and misleading information and their sponsors to desist forthwith or be prepared to face the full weight of the law and attendant consequences of their nefarious activities”.