The family of 33-year-old Sunday Ufuah, a physics teacher at Alihami Mixed Secondary School, Agbor in Ika South LGA of Delta State, was thrown into mourning on October 18 following the death of its breadwinner in the hands of a parent of a student.
Ufuah, like other teachers, had on the fateful day reported to his place of work at Alihami Mixed Secondary School to carry out what he knew best, which was imparting knowledge towards moulding the character of students at the institution.
Daily Trust gathered that on that day, Ufuah disciplined a JSS 1 student who had, along with some other students, gone to a palm wine shop and allegedly stole two kegs of the alcoholic drink.
When the incident was reported to the school authorities, the student and others were punished for bad behaviour and to serve as a deterrent to others.
The late physics teacher took it upon himself to discipline the student. But, in doing that, little did he know that would be his last day on earth.
While other students took their punishment in good faith, the JSS 1 student, on getting home, however, reported the flogging to his father, one Mr Nnajiofor Nweke, who came to the school in protest and, wielding a cane, descended on the teachers, flogging them for punishing his child for bad behaviour.
The teacher collapsed and was reported dead before arriving at the Agbor General Hospital.
Police detain suspect
Confirming the incident, the Delta State Police Command said the suspect had been arrested and was at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) of the command.
The command’s Public Relations Officer, DSP Bright Edafe, who confirmed the incident, said an investigation is ongoing for a suspected case of murder.
Angered by the incident, on October 19, members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in Ika North and South at Igumbor Otiku Mixed Secondary School, Agbor, staged a peaceful protest demanding justice for their colleague.
The protest grounded academic activities at Alihami Mixed Secondary School.
Clad in black attire, the teachers marched round the school and major roads in the locality.
Speaking on the protest, the NUT Chairman, Ika South LGA chapter, Comrade Isaac Arimokwu, described the action of the parent as barbaric.
Arimokwu wondered that if teachers who impart knowledge and mould the character of students to be of good behaviour are not safe in the hands of parents, where then will they be safe?
“It is a very unfortunate and sad incident. Right now, we are waiting for the police reports—both the autopsy and other investigations.
“Everybody in the state, including the state government and traditional rulers, is interested in this matter.
“He was a nice and very dedicated teacher. He has been teaching for many years at Igumbor Otiku Mixed Secondary School, Agbor, before he was transferred to the Alihami Mixed Secondary School, Agbor, barely a year ago,” he said.
He called for adequate protection for teachers by the state government.
Members of the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS), Delta State chapter, also demanded justice and protection for teachers in the wake of the tragic death of Ufuah.
Comrade Kenneth Okoh, chairman of the state chapter of the union, condemned the alarming spate of parents attacking teachers in the state and demanded the government’s intervention and justice for the deceased.
Okoh expressed the union’s deep sorrow over the loss of the teacher, whom he described as dedicated.
Delta govt assures teachers of protection
The Delta State Governor, Sheriff Oborevwori, in his condolence message to the family of the deceased and the state wing of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), condemned the action of the parent against the teacher.
Oborevwori directed the State Police Command to investigate the allegations against the parent and the student with a view to ensuring justice is served in the matter.
He warned parents and guardians against taking illegal actions against teachers for correcting their erring children and wards.
The Delta State Commissioner for Secondary Education, Mrs Rose Ezewu, who visited the Boji Boji Owa residence of the late Sunday Ufuah to condole with his family, assured teachers of government protection.
She described the deceased as a dedicated and God-fearing teacher.
“Whoever does not want their children to be taught good morals should keep them at home,’’ she stated.
She announced a scholarship for the children of the deceased to cover their secondary education.
“The student who was punished for scaling the school fence to steal palm wine had been arrested alongside his father, handed over to the police, and would be investigated and prosecuted in accordance with the law.
“It was an effrontery taken too far by a failed parent, but this would serve as a deterrent to parents for molesting teachers for reprimanding their wards for bad behaviour,” she said.
Reacting to the incident, Comrade Victor Ojei, an activist, who described the action of the parent of the student as shocking and distressing, noted that urgent actions must be taken to ensure justice and serve as a deterrent.
Daily Trust reports that this was not the first case of a teacher beaten to death in the state, either by a parent or a relative of a student.
On December 2, 2021, Mr Ezeugo Joseph, a school teacher at Erimu School in Abraka, Delta State, was confirmed dead after he was beaten by one of his students.
The teacher was beaten to death by one Michael Ogbeise, an SS3 student, for flogging his younger sister, identified as Promise.
Also, sometime in 2013, five students of Zappa Mixed Secondary School, Asaba, were arrested by the police for allegedly attacking a teacher of the school.
The students, four males and a female, were suspended indefinitely for attacking their teachers while they were being disciplined for misconduct.
However, the development is not limited to Delta State alone. It was also reported that on November 29, 2017, a female teacher, Odilinye Rita, of Starlight Secondary School, Ogidi, Anambra State, was beaten to death by the parents of one Okafor Chinaza, a 14-year-old student she flogged.
The teacher was said to have flogged the student for not sweeping the class according to the roster.