Arrest of minors by Oyo environmental task force: School owner raises alarm, seeks NAPPS support
•We are on top of the situation ―Environment Commissioner
A private school owner and member of National Association of Proprietors of Private schools (NAPPS) in Ibadan North Local Government Area of Oyo State, Mrs Olayemi Sylva, at the weekend raised alarm over what she termed the indiscriminate arrest of minors especially school children in Ibadan by officers of the State Environmental Task Force in the state.
The 61-year-old woman in her report to NAPPS stated that she was maltreated by policemen on instruction from a government worker when she went to seek the release of her 13-year-old student.
According to her, “On Friday, while taking attendance in the school, the principal found out that a girl in SS2 was absent and because it was unusual for the girl to be absent in school, we called the parent and were told she had been locked up since Thursday for dropping a sachet on the road after eating gala and sachet water after being apprehended by environmental officers and taken to their office at secretariat despite being in school uniform.
“I quickly went there and as I was parking, the girl saw me where they packed all of them and ran out crying. She was telling me what happened and how they did not allow her to ease herself or eat and while I was petting her that we will go home together, a police officer there heard me and started insulting me that who am I? And that I should get out.
“I told him this is a 13-year-old child that you locked up in her uniform since yesterday because she dropped paper on the floor. Can’t you scold her to pick it up and tell her not to do it next time? Did you place any wastebasket on the road around the city for people to drop things like that? Why don’t you go to Sabo and pack those dirtying the place? You gave them trucks and people to sweep and pack debris but arrest a small girl.
“That was all I said, they started dragging the girl from me, instructing her to go back to the cell and one of their bosses came out.
“I learnt he’s a former CP of police, his name is Ojomo, he said who is that madam shouting here, take her to the police station and lock her up.
“I asked what is the offence that you are locking me up, went inside my car to pick my phone so I can make a call.
“They came into my car, grabbed the phone from me and started dragging me, about five policemen, male and female, one carried my leg, another carried my hand.
“I said if I’m following you to the station, let me go in my car, let a policeman sit inside my car, they refused, they carried me like a baby and dumped me inside their vehicle and took me to Iwo Road police station where I was asked to sit behind the counter,” Mrs Sylva said.
She explained that she was refused bail until the police collected N7,000 “and told me to come on Monday because they are taking me to court after which they took that child to a mobile court and charged her, then told her to pay N3,000 fine after locking her up for over 24 hours.
“I was maltreated and roughly handled, at 61, I was thrown into their car like a baby.
“I am just reporting because I need the support of the association because it was a great embarrassment and can happen to any school around us,” Mrs Sylva said.
However, the state government has stated that it has ordered a full investigation into the circumstances that led to the incident reported in a viral audio by Mrs Sylva, on the orders of Governor Seyi Makinde.
A statement made public on Sunday by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor, Mr Taiwo Adisa, confirmed that the governor has ordered a full-scale investigation into the viral audio and the claims by the school proprietress.
“The attention of His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde, has been drawn to the contents of a viral audio credited to a school proprietress, Mrs Olayemi Sylva. The governor has since directed the state’s Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, Idowu Oyeleke, to commence full and immediate investigations into the matter and apportion blame accordingly.
“Governor Makinde has also given the commitment that no one found guilty of infractions in the matter would be spared at the end of the day and that the matter would not be swept under the carpet,” the statement said.
The statement also quoted the Commissioner for Environment as saying that his office had taken up the governor’s directives while keeping in touch with the woman and her family members.
“In line with the directives of the governor, I have immediately established contact with the affected woman and when it became clear that she had gone for medical checks, I visited her and made an initial deposit to take care of her medical bill.
“I have also been briefed by the Chairman of the Task Force, ACP Francis Ojomo, whose men have been striving hard to rid the city of Ibadan and Oyo state of dirt and refuse. We are fully cooperating on this matter.
“We want it to be on record that while the government of Oyo State will not empower any group or agency to brutalise any of its residents, it will also not permit any resident to disobey the law and violate laid down regulations, he said.