How Anambra school lost academic calendar for failing to explain two-year-old pupil’s injuries

The injured two-year-old pupil

I’M sorry, they say, heals wounds. Experience has shown that this short statement can calm some frayed nerves in some sensitve situations.  

But for her refusal to tender an apology, the Proprietress of Blessed Wisdom Model Nursery and Primary School, Onitsha, Anambra State, Mrs. Nkamigbo Ifeyinwa, has kept the school shut and her pupils sent home for one month.

This was made known by Commissioner for Education Prof. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh, while clarifying controversies surrounding the short closure of the school.

How it started

More than two months ago, a two-year-old pupil of the school, Ifechukwu Egbuniwe, reportedly sustained injuries at the school in a process that could not be explained by the authorities. This attracted the attention of the state government and other stakeholders after the incident went viral.

As a result, the state government, through the commissioner, closed the school, and a committee of inquiry was constituted to investigate the case of ‘grievous bodily harm, catastrophic and devastating injury’ on Egbuniwe.

Chuma-Udeh, who spoke to reporters in Awka, explained that the school was temporarily shut for failing to explain what happened to the toddler. She said, amid the development, that the state government was dragged to court by the proprietor through the state House of Assembly, demanding the re-opening of the school.

 According to her, the ministry acted on a petition to the state government, to intercede between the school and the aggrieved parents, but regretted that the school’s management remained recalcitrant.

 She said the matter wouldn’t have dragged on for long, if the proprietress had honoured the first and second invitations.

 She said: “We received petition from a legal chamber about a two-year- old child battered in the school, with a cut tongue and broken femur. We’re here to arbitrate and I simply directed the Director of School to invite the administrator to know what the problem is about.

 “The administrator refused to come, both on the first and second invitations. It was on the third invitation that she called me by 11pm as I was about to sleep, saying she won’t be able to honour the invitation because of an event she has in the school.

“I told her that if she refuses to honour our invitation the third time, that we will have no option than to put a temporary ban on her school until she explains what happened to the child that got battered.

“We’re appalled not just by her sheer impunity and adamancy, but her insensitivity to human life. This child could have been any of us and nobody could explain to both parents and government or any other stakeholder about what happened to her.

“I only did my job as a commissioner. Even when we placed the ban on her school, she refused to shut the school. We had to call Anambra State Joint Enforcement Committee (ANJEC) to effect the closure of the school. It was obvious the owner of the school was above the law.

 “Meanwhile, we set up a committee of inquiry and invited the parents of the child, their lawyer and proprietress. This time around, she came with her husband and retinue of her staff.’’

The commissioner said if the proprietress had sent two of the school staff members to represent her, the case would since been settled, adding that rather ‘’But she refused to tell the state what happened’’.

 “The committee after its investigation agreed that the matter was what apology or a milk of human kindness would have solved. We also discovered that within the four months the child had been in the situation, the school authority did not ask after her or seek to assist in the treatment.

“The committee came up with three resolutions: One, that the woman should placate the family of the child. Two, both families should get together and ensure the arm heals properly.

“But for more than five hours, we waited for the woman to say, “I’m sorry”, but she said she would never ever apologise, insisting it was not her fault. Meanwhile, both her lawyer and those who came with the child’s family apologised on her behalf.

“I believe that the proprietress feels the life of the child is meaningless. I have nothing against the woman, her school or closing down the school. I don’t think I have anything to gain.

“The incident happened to a little child and as a matter of policy, every child belongs to the state government, be it private or public schools. We’re here to protect the pupils. Our motto is reverence to human life.

“That you are running a private school doesn’t mean that you are not under the control of the state government and specifically the Ministry of Education.

“We got an apology letter from the school through the state House of Assembly and another letter from a law firm asking us to reopen the school with immediate effect. Things are not done that way.”

 Chuma further noted that the school would be temporarily closed down until it reconciles with the parents of the child and offset the medical bills of the injured child.

 “So, I want to state categorically that except the woman explains to us what happened to this poor child and gets along with the child’s family to ensure she has a holistic healing and two families assure government that everything is alright, we’ll wait for her in court.

 “She will tell the court how the child went to school and got battered to such an extent,” she added.

 But, while the media briefing was ongoing, the proprietress suddenly walked in, requesting to address the press. 

Surprisingly, she announced that the matter had been put to rest following her apology to the ministry.

 She, however, denied the purported version of another apology letter by the school’s lawyer mandating the government to open the school with immediate effect.

 She said: “To the glory of God, we’ve accepted to take the responsibility of making sure the child is fully okay and we’ve accepted further responsibility for the child.

 “By the special grace of God, the matter has been resolved amicably. I’ve apologised, which has also been documented.”


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