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FG, FCT land tussle throws 360 children out of school

At least 360 pupils of LEA Primary School in Wuye, Abuja are stranded with no place of learning after their school roof was ordered removed…

At least 360 pupils of LEA Primary School in Wuye, Abuja are stranded with no place of learning after their school roof was ordered removed on Wednesday.

The school is the only public primary school zoned into Wuye district, but has been running in makeshift buildings on a land marked as the permanent site for Federal Government Boys College, Apo.

On Thursday morning, the school gate closed, shutting out pupils and their parents as they resumed for school.

Sani Gambadi’s three children attended classes at the school until Wednesday, and he called for help.

“This is the only primary school in Wuye. There is no other place our children will go to school,” said Gambadi.

Workers were sighted taking roofing sheets off roofs of buildings used as classes and other buildings that had been repurposed as residential quarters.

Head teachers brought in the parents teachers association to enquire who ordered the roofing sheets removed.

The chairman of the school’s PTA, Ibrahim al-Hassan, who has spoken on phone with both the principal of FGBC, HA Abdullahi and the federal education ministry’s permanent secretary, Sonny Echono, said both men have been passing the blame from one to the other.

Daily Trust visited the FGBC on Thursday but Abdullahi was unavailable, and calls and messages to both him and Echono have not been answered.

The LEA school started under a tree, then moved into abandoned buildings on the site. It is populated by mostly rural children whose parents can’t afford private education in the district.

On Wednesday, the FCT education authorities which control the LEA school agreed to convert one structure on the site into temporary classrooms pending a permanent structure.

By Thursday morning, the gate was shut and a civil defender placed on sentry duty on instruction of the principal of FGBC.

“What I see is that the principal of the FGBC, the permanent secretary, and the people of FCDA, their plan is to spoil the knowledge of the children of Wuye,” said Al-Hassan.

“Removing this roof means our children will not go to school.”

Chika Offor, of Vaccine Network, which has helped drive up enrolment of girls amidst plans to repurpose classrooms for nursery learning, said both education authorities of both the federal government and the FCT are having “this confusion as to who owns the school or not”, adding, “All those things are irrelevant to the children.”

“What is relevant to the children is to have a place where they go to school. If FGBC says the land is theirs, fine. If LEA says it wants a small portion of land where the children can go to school, no problem. The problem now is when you drive the children from this place, where do you want the children to be?” said Offor.

“We have a lot of girl children from different communities who have now been convinced to attend school here. Some of them just started last term. What will become of them? How do you go back to re-convince the parents that schooling is important?”

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