The Center for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection, CEE-HOPE, a non-governmental organization committed to promoting the welfare and rights of Nigerian children, expresses its deep concern over the recent incident at the Odomola Junior Secondary School, Epe, a Lagos State primary school where a 10-year-old student was sent home from school for using a poster of an electoral candidate to wrap her notebook.
According to reports, the student had wrapped her books with the poster of Mr. Peter Obi, a Presidential candidate of Labour Party in the 2023 general elections. The act allegedly irked her school principal who reportedly sent the girl home with a note to her parents saying; “Miss Barinada Marvelous of JSS 2B is hereby permitted to go home to campaign for Peter Obi against the wish (sic) of Lagosians.”
The act which was publicised on social media by her father, Mr. Barinada, including the principal’s note, went viral with many people expressing outrage at the principal tending to partisan politics and punishing a child in what was obviously an innocent act.
CEE-HOPE in a press statement issued by the Founder and Executive Director, Betty Abah, described the act as totally condemnable.
Abah said, “we condemn the school principal’s action which drips with all the attributes of intolerance and involvement in partisan politics by a civil servant and which is clearly against the government’s Civil Service Rule.
“It is unacceptable that a child’s education should be disrupted in this manner and for such a reason. It is also against the brief of a school principal, educationist, and an adult citizen to deprive a child the right or access to education when clearly that child hasn’t broken any known rules or constituted a risk to others.”
CEE-HOPE also recalled a similar occurrence at the Odogunyan Grammar School in the Ikorodu area of the state where a school staff was videoed at a school assembly promoting her political choice, asking her students to recite political campaign songs and urging them to persuade their parents to vote for a particular candidate in the incoming gubernatorial election, namely the incumbent state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The group also commend the Lagos State Government for intervening swiftly and demanded that a thorough investigation be conducted.
“We commend the Lagos State Ministry of Education for swiftly addressing the unpleasant development via a statement in which they promised to investigate the developments and to mete out due sanctions.
“We urge the Lagos State Government to conduct a thorough investigation into these incidents and ensure that the right measures of punishment are meted out to those responsible.
“Such incidents should not be allowed to recur, and the education of Nigerian children should not be jeopardized due to adult’s political interests. Children have a right to a safe and conducive learning environment where they can develop their full potentials without fear of victimization or discrimination, Abah added.
While reiterating its call for children to be left out of adult’s political choices, rethorics and associated controversies, CEE-HOPE also noted with displeasure the recurrent public displays of intolerance, threats and intimidation by associates of the Lagos State Government in recent times, actions which the group says the government and security agencies have failed so far to adequately address.