DSS brutality: Calabar teachers threatened for involving lawyer

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Teachers of the Federal Government Girls College, Calabar, Cross River State, assaulted by operatives of the Department of State Services, have been reportedly threatened with queries for engaging a lawyer to seek redress.

Calabar Teacher

The lawyer, First Baba Isa, who said he took up the case pro bono, told PUNCH Metro on Monday that one of the teachers called to inform him of the Federal Ministry of Education’s reservation for involving his chambers.

Isa said the school management had got an order from the ministry not to let “a private lawyer intervene” in the case, adding that the move was an attempt “to sweep the matter under the carpet.”

This is just as a video clip of the attack captured by one of the teachers went viral.

It had been reported that a Civic Education teacher, Mr. Owai Owai, on Thursday flogged 10 pupils of Senior Secondary School 3, for forcing some Junior Secondary School pupils to sweep their (SSS3) classroom while classes had commenced.

One of the SSS3 pupils reportedly called her mother, Mrs. Asuquo, a DSS operative, on the telephone.

Asuquo reportedly raced to the school and invited her colleagues, who stormed the college premises, shooting indiscriminately. They reportedly flogged Owai, and other teachers, who attempted to caution them.

The lawyer had demanded that the DSS pay N10m to the school authorities in damages, tender an apology, repair the vandalised school gate, pay the hospital bills of the teachers, who sustained injuries during the attack, and return the teachers’ valuables the officials allegedly took away.

A teacher in the school had also refuted the claim by the DSS boss, Fubara Duke, that his men did not shoot, adding that several empty shells expended during the operatives’ continuous shooting at the school gates and walls were recovered, demanding that the perpetrators be prosecuted.

The lawyer, Isa, in a telephone interview with PUNCH Metro on Monday, said the school authorities and the teachers were under pressure to back off on the matter.

He said, “We have petitioned the police, the DSS, Minister of Education, and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. We hope our demands will be met at this level of petition. But if the DSS fails, we will file civil claims and go to court.

“There is a lot of politicking going on already. The teachers are being harassed and they are being blamed for involving a lawyer. They were told that the Federal Ministry of Education has a legal team. The point is this; the federal institution is reluctant to take action against the DSS in court.”

The lawyer stated that he would monitor the case to ensure justice was served if it was taken over from his chambers by the government.

“If they give it to another lawyer, no problem, but I will monitor the case. If it is not being done right, I am going to shout. The DSS is claiming that it was a case of mistaken identity. What happened in the school? Who was mistaken? The bullets are standard government-issued bullets,” he added.

In the video that went viral, there was commotion, with teachers trying to resist the attack. A voice was heard saying, “Let me see that phone,” (in reaction to the videoing of the attack).

Meanwhile, no fewer than 20 teachers from the college will today (Tuesday) embark on a peaceful protest to the Cross River State House of Assembly and the Governor’s Office to formally lodge their complaints over the attack on their colleagues by the DSS officials.

The teachers, under the auspices of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, also vowed to commence work-to-rule to press for the prosecution of the DSS officials.

When PUNCH Metro visited the school on Monday, normalcy had returned, but a few teachers were still seen discussing the matter in groups.

The Chairman of the Cross River State chapter of ASCSN, Mr. Akinwunmi Ogunyemi, said the national body of the union had given approval for the protest.

He said although the on work-to-rule had commenced on Monday, the teachers still taught “because of the sympathy they have for the pupils.”

Ogunyemi said, “The national body of ASCSN has directed that there should be a protest. Issues like this cannot be allowed to die down. We ought to have started the work-to-rule based on the decision that we took during an emergency congress, but we have not started because of the interest we have for the pupils.

“By tomorrow (Tuesday), we shall go to the state House of Assembly and the Governor’s Office to formally present our grievance. We do not want this matter to be swept under the carpet. It shall be a peaceful demonstration and we are hopeful that hoodlums will not hijack it. The trek will start from the school, which is about six kilometres to the Assembly.”

The Cross River State Police Command on Monday said it had started investigation into the matter.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Irene Ugbo, said the police had visited the school to get first-hand information that would aid their investigation.

The spokesperson for the Federal Ministry of Education, Priscillia Ihuoma, could not be reached for comments as calls to her line rang out. She had also yet to reply to a text message sent to her phone as of press time.

Source: Punchng

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