Security: States urge FG to release N1.6b safe intervention fund for schools

President Goodluck Jonathan announced the grant in May to secure public schools in the North East region and directed the affected states to complement the effort in providing security in academic institutions

Some State Governments on Monday called on the Federal Government to release the $10 million (about N1.6 billion) special intervention fund for the fortification of security in public schools.
President Goodluck Jonathan announced the grant in May to secure public schools in the North East region and directed the affected states to complement the effort in providing security in academic institutions.
The directive followed attacks on schools in parts of the country, during which several lives and property were lost to insurgents.
However, a survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria indicated that some states were not aware of the development, while others called for the release of the grant to prevent further attacks or abduction of students.
School administrators and principals of some secondary schools across the country applauded Jonathan’s initiative, saying that it would prevent further attacks on their institutions and safeguard lives and property.
They, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to make the fund available to beef up security in their schools.
The Principal, Federal Government Girls College, Calabar, Cross River State, Ijeoma Essien, told NAN in Calabar that the school lacks adequate security staff to police the entire premises spanning 64.086 hectares of land.
Essien said that the college was making efforts to tighten security in and around the school premises.
She said: “We have approached the Department of State Service to advice us on what to do and they advised us to train some staff on ad-hoc basis.
“We have done that and now we have 16 security staff, including six paid by the ministry, nine paid by the school authority and one paid by the Parents Teachers Association.
“We have even requested for soldiers but the Brigade Commander said they can only patrol.
“The police used to be stationed here but they were withdrawn since October 2013.
“I actually want soldiers.”
Essien said that as a result of the vast nature of the premises, the school had allowed some villagers to farm on the school land to avoid criminals from taking advantage.
According to her, this had enhanced cordial relationship between the school and the host communities, who now give privileged information to the security agencies.
A NAN correspondent who visited Government Secondary School, Calabar observed that visitors now undergo frisking and are subjected to serious interrogation by security men at the gate before being allowed into the premises.
In Adamawa State, one of the three North East states under State of Emergency, the state government said it was yet to access the special intervention fund.
Malam Ahmad Sajoh, the Director Press and Public Affairs to Governor Murtala Nyako, said the state was yet to get anything from the said intervention fund.
NAN recalls that in 2012, the town of Mubi recorded its first casualty when about 40 students of the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi were killed in their out campus hostel following insurgent attacks.
Sajoh said that the presidential directive to fortify security around schools in the North East could be said to be partially implemented in Adamawa State.
According to him, some schools were having security presence while others do not have, particularly private schools.
Tertiary institutions like the College of Education, Hong were advised by the Army to close in February after the Provost of the college, Johnson Pongri, confirmed receipt of threat letters purportedly written by Boko Haram warning the school to close.
The Adamawa State University, Mubi also received similar threat letters, but the Vice Chancellor queried the genuineness of the letter.
He said the institution would not close because of military presence, adding that all security operatives had resolved to work together.
In Kwara State, the state’s Police Command told NAN that it had deployed enough personnel to all public schools in the state to forestall activities of insurgents and protect lives and property.
Ambrose Aisabor, the Commissioner of Police in the state, said enough personnel were currently in all the boarding schools in the state on 24 hours basis.
Aisabor gave an assurance that the command would not relent in its efforts to provide adequate security to all schools.
The state Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development, Alhaji Saka Onimago, said the State Government has set up Harmony Security outfit to beef up security in the state.
Onimago said the outfit comprised officials from Army, Police, Civil Defence and other security organisations.
The commissioner told NAN that the security outfit conduct daily patrol of all schools in the state to ensure that law and order prevailed in the schools.
Similarly, Onimago said the state was not aware of the N1.6 billion special intervention fund announced by the Federal Government on security.
The Principal of Government High School, llorin, Hajiya Ramat AbdulMalik, and her counterpart for Baboko Secondary School, llorin, Alhaji Kehinde Omomeji, said they engaged private security outfit to complement government efforts.
In Lokoja, the Principal, Crowther Memorial College, Berida Beatrice, stressed the need for government to give serious attention to public schools to ensure security of students.
Beatrice noted that since the wake of insecurity in the country, her school had beefed up security by providing more security guards and building a security post.
Beatrice also urged government to release fund for the perimeter fencing of all public schools in the state.
She explained that security was the business of all, saying that the school management was doing everything possible to ensure the safety of students and teachers.
She called on parents to monitor their children and prevent them from joining bad groups threatening the security of the country.
The PRO of the Nigeria Security‎ and Civil Defence Corps in Kogi State, Adelaja Rotimi, also told NAN that efforts were being made to ensure frequent patrol of schools in the state.
Rotimi said that the NSCDC was seriously working with other security agencies to combat crime in the state.
Rotimi called on members of the public to always be vigilant and report any suspicious movement and objects in their respective areas.
In Oyo State, NAN learnt that both government and private owned schools in the state have taken measures to ensure the safety of their students.
Kolawole Bello, the Principal of Baptist Secondary School, Liberty Road, Oke Ado, Ibadan, said the management of the school had provided students with some security tips.
Bello said: “I am aware of the security situation in schools in the country hence we tutor our teachers and students on happenings concerning security.
“We have told them to be wary of strangers and not to heed the call of anyone not known to them and to be vigilant.”
On the special intervention fund, the Oyo State Commissioner for Finance, Zacheus Adelabu, told NAN that he was not aware of the grant.
“Oyo State Government is not in the know of any intervention fund and so we have not been able to access it for anything,” Adelabu said.
Adelabu also called for the release of the fund.
In Abia State, both private and public schools had put in place measures to ensure adequate security to prevent attacks from insurgents.
At the Government College, Umuahia, the Principal, Chief Jerry Onyemachi, urged for more security personnel to effectively man the large premises.
Onyemachi lamented that the “porous security situation” in the school was made worse by lack of perimeter fencing around the buildings.
The principal said that a seminar on anti-terrorism organised by the police for school principals had helped to educate them on how to handle strange objects and suspected Improvised Explosive Devices found within their premises.
Most of the schools visited in the state have the services of regular police and Abia State Vigilance Group, otherwise called Bakassi, to beef up security in their premises.
On the N1.6 billion Federal Government security grant to states, NAN learnt that the money was yet to be disbursed to schools in the state.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Eze Chikamnayo, told NAN on phone that he would “need to speak with the relevant authorities on the issue before fielding questions”.
However, the Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, confirmed the release of the fund to newsmen on June 17.
Okonjo-Iweala explained that N3.2 billion was actually needed for the take-off of the “Safe School Initiative” programme introduced by the Federal Government.
According to her, the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, had also pledged to support the programme to keep Nigerian children in school and urged the state governments to complement the policy.