The 92-year-old Central School, Ikot Akpa Nkuk in Ukanafun local government area of Akwa Ibom State is not used to forceful closure except when the school joins state or nationwide strikes or is on holidays.
But for the first time in its long existence, the school was closed during the third term of 2016/2017 school year and still remains closed owing to the lingering insecurity that embroiled the area including some communities in Etim Ekpo.
Unlike the Central School, other public primary schools mostly in Wards 2 and 3 outside the security prescient of the headquarters were closed right from the first term of the school year while the rest in the local government area joined in the second and third terms of the school year respectively.
Straightnews team visited the area on Tuesday, October 9 to monitor the extent of the peace process brokered between the state government and the aggrieved youths who took up arms and decimated lives and destroyed down property.
Worried by the crisis, Akwa Ibom Police Command had directed the youths from Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun local government areas to surrender their arms and other dangerous weapons at the Central School for peace.
At the end of the exercise, more than 207 aggrieved youths including some impostors who infiltrated the rank of the youths to benefit from the supposed the state government’s booty under rehabilitation and re-integration programme.
Days after, one Unyime Friday Ibanga otherwise known as Overcomer accompanied by his lieutenants visited Government House, Uyo on Monday, October 8 and surrendered his troop to Governor Udom Emmanuel for peace, an action seen as a gesture to open door for return of peace to the deserted area.
Yet, Central School, Ikot Akpa Nkuk, venue of the peace initiative held from September 22 to 28, this year and located within the local government headquarters is among the beleaguered schools in the area which are yet to reopen for classes due to heightened insecurity.
Findings by Straightnews indicate pupils and teachers are yet to commence classes in most of the 64 public primary schools in the area including secondary schools in Southern Ukanafun except a few in Northern Ukanafun, Southern and Northern Afaha schools.
Generally, public primary and secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State resumed for classes on September 10 for the 2018/2019 school calender year.
As at 11 a.m. Straightnews team arrived at Primary School, Nkek Idim, moved from there to Annang Community School, Ikot Akpa Ntuen, Government School, Ikot Obiokpoho, and Government School, Nkek Enen Ido, yet there were no pupils nor teachers. The schools were under lock and key and were grown with tall grasses. Some reptiles and rodents were seen gaming.
At Community Secondary School, Nkek, it was worse. It was reported that some kidnappers under the pretext of aggrieved youths went to the school to abduct the vice principal of the school in 2016. In an attempt by the vice principal to flee, the suspected kidnappers shot him dead and everybody scampered to his or her safety, Straightnews learnt.
In the school, it was difficult to identify as it is overgrown with grasses and most doors and wooden windows, broken and pilfered. Some buildings were dilapidated. The team could not reach the school principal.
The same story went to Comprehensive Secondary School, Ntak Afaha. The school did not reopen for classes and students and teachers were not sighted. Yet, the school is overgrown with grasses.
In the last one year, there were no classes for students and pupils as the teachers had fled the area for fear of being killed or abducted for ransom by the rampaging youths.
In most public secondary and primary schools visited by Straightnews team, it was discovered that the schools did not reopen as students/pupils and their teachers were not sighted.
In an interview with Straightnews, Uwem Solomon, the chairman of Association of Primary School Head Teachers of Nigeria (APSHON), Ukanafun chapter, said he had held a meeting with the head teachers to see the possibility of re-opening the schools.
Solomon lamented that the suspected criminals abducted many of his members for ransom, set the houses of other head teachers ablaze and abused a few.
He said the local government chairman had met and told them that they should reopen the schools since peace has returned to the area, hoping that they would do so as soon as certain things are factored in to ensure their safety in the schools.