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Concerns over safety of 340 Enugu students locked up by AMCON

Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

 Worries are being expressed over the safety of about 340 female students of Providence High School, Enugu, who, on Thursday evening, were locked up in their school premises by officials of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) in the company of over 30 riot police officers during the enforcement of a court order empowering it (AMCON) to take possession of the school facilities.

The officials had stormed the private boarding school for girls with armed policemen at about 5.30 pm on Thursday, to enforce a court order it obtained in 2016 to possess the buildings in the school premises over the failure of the original owner of the property to repay loans he obtained from banks.

 They had cordoned off all entrances to the college and ordered staff and students, who were taking school certificate examinations, to vacate the premises. Apparently, to show that they meant business, they locked up all entrances to the school compound with the students trapped in their hostels and assaulted a male teacher, who allegedly prevailed on them not to fire shots in the premises, before leaving. They also left bold inscriptions, “Property took over by AMCON on court order” on the school walls.

As at the time of filing this report, cars driven by the school staff into the premises are still locked inside, while a pedestrian walkway now serves as the only access in and out of the school compound.

It was gathered that Anaghara, who died in 2007, had before his death, leased the premises, which then contained two uncompleted buildings to the school owner, Mrs. Elizabeth Onwuagha on the understanding that she would complete the buildings and use the place for educational purposes. The deal was said to have been struck in 1996.

 A resident, Joseph Ugwu, yesterday, decried the development, saying such should not be tolerated in a modern society, where rules and regulations are observed.

He called on the Enugu state government to intervene to save the students.

Mrs. Onwuagha said she was not aware that the original owner of the property used it to obtain a loan from banks.

 She explained that she only got to know, when AMCON officials came with the 2016 court order, adding that they had earlier approached the commission to find ways of settling the matter since the owner of the property was no more. She said she had been paying rent on the property.

She explained that since acquiring the place in 1996, she had developed six other buildings in the premises, due to the school’s increasing population, and called for the state government’s intervention.

“My greatest headache is that some of the students are from outside Enugu State and their parents are not here. I would not want a repeat of what happened in Katsina State to happen here,” she said.

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