7 February 2013

Nigeria: Three Journalists Detained for Probing Mass Failure in Unity School

Even with the passage of the Freedom of the Information (FoI) Act in place, three journalists from three national newspapers were Wednesday detained by the police in Akwa Ibom State for attempting to probe alleged mass withdrawal of students from a Unity School in the state, the Federal Science and Technical College, Aka Offot in Uyo, the state capital over rot and falling standard of education in the institution.

The journalists are, Aniefiok Macauley of Daily Independent, Aniefiok Udonquak of BusinessDay and Patrick Odey of Daily Trust, were detained in the office of the Principal of the school, Mrs. T. A. Nweke, for hours before they were released following a directive from superior quarters.

Sources said the Principal of the school, Nweke who had arrived the school at about 11a.m. invited the journalists to her office and later phoned the police, alleging that she was being harassed and intimidated by the some journalists.

It was gathered that following complaints by parents and students, the journalists had gone to the school to seek response from the school authorities on the alleged rots in the school, falling academic standards and alleged imposition of illegal levies.

While interviewing the Principal, some people with mufti who claimed to be policemen from the 'C' Division of the State Police Command were said to have surrounded the office and allegedly held the journalists hostage.

The leader of the team, simply identified as Mr. Emmanuel and Divisional Crime Officer (DCO), was said to have ordered that the journalists be taken to the police station for questioning for daring to interview the school principal.

One of the journalists who attempted to leave the principal's office was pushed back and forcibly detained in the principal's office for hours.

After more than two hours, the leader of the team shouted on the journalists to leave the vicinity of the school following instructions from his boss to allow them go as the journalists had no right to interview the principal.

According to the immediate past Chairman of the Parents' Teachers' Association (PTA) of the school, Mr. Ime Idinyang, 'the 2011 WAEC results were unsatisfactory by Federal Unity Schools standard."

He pointed out that only 26 out of 139 students had credit pass in English language, while 18 out of 124 had credit pass in Mathematics in the 2011 examinations.

The 2011 WAEC results of the school equally showed that 39 out of 135 students passed at credit level in Biology, and five out of 135 in Chemistry thereby prompting mass withdrawal of students from the school.

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