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The Customsmen's intervention

Published by Tribune on Fri, 17 Feb 2012

THE story has been in the media now for about three weeks. One had been restrained from making comments because, the holy book urges that we be quick to hear and slow to speak. There was no way the story would not go on and on, judging by the groups of persons and institutions involved. One Mr Gbenga Ogunleye, a teacher at the Senior Secondary School, Ijokodo, Ibadan had reportedly beaten a student, one Chukwuebuka Allison, for loitering at an uncompleted building near the school, with some other errant students while classes were on. The teacher allegedly badly brutalised the 19-year-old student.The student, according to one account, was sent home to call his parents while another account had it that he simply went home on his own to complain to his parents. Either way, the parents headed for the school or which parent won't in the circumstance' What transpired after this is what has been causing a lot of hulla ballo. What is, however, clear is that, from interviews with neighbours and other students, there were other Customsmen who came to the school and there was at least a shot fired by one of the Customsmen.As a parent, inasmuch as I am not for sparing the rod so that the child does not get spoilt, one will frown at any attempt to indiscriminately discipline any junior person be it in terms of age, resources or any other status consideration. Discipline is meant to correct and not to destroy. It is in that sense that the action of Mr Ogunleye should be condemned. He should have left Ebuka to the discretion of his parents if he refuses to be amenable to verbal discipline. That he is still in senior secondary school class three at 19 is indicative that the life of Ebuka is a perculiar story.A human being is not a metal that can be humanly or technologically fabricated to our taste. An errant child needs a lot more than canning. The teacher needs to note this very critical fact.The reaction of Ebuka's parents may reveal some of the story that is the life of the teenager. But that is their private life and their own business. I cannot, however, stop wondering why Ebuka's father chose to call his colleagues in the Customs, instead of the police who are legally empowered to intervene in this kind of conflict. If, as some of his colleagues have argued, Mr. Allison has a medical challenge that makes him to even be excused from physical excercises in his place of work, is he then still fit to keep the kind of job that he does since it requires rigorous physical exertion' Running after smugglers in the thick bushes along Nigeria's 4,047km porous border is no joke. And if as an officer, his first thought was to call Customsmen when he could not defend himself in the circumstance, then he is saying that next time I have an issue that is civil, as a journalist, I should mobilise members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to the place to avenge me' What need was there for Customsmen to 'visit' the school armed when it is not in the border area' What if some crazy teacher also had a gun'The action of the Nigerian Customsmen is most unfair in this particular instance. When we take actions, even when abberant behaviours are now the norm, disciplined institutions such as the Customs should lift up a standard. In the mood of espirit de corp, the best the men should have done was to call in the police and ensure that the teacher is charged to court with the relevant charges that will ensure a fair judgment, considering the extent of both physical and psychological damage done to the boy.Nigerians should begin the culture of reinculcation of the right values. If the men had just bothered to count one to ten like they taught us when we were younger to control our anger, maybe the Allisons would not be generating the kind of odious attention they have recently been having in the media. And the Nigeria Customs would have been saved the task of redeeming their image which was already being applauded in the light of recent actions taken by the Comptroller-General with their pro-people stance, before the committee of the House of Representatives on the fuel subsidy. Lewis, 08055001746 (sms only)Reactions:On Sanusi's theory of economic emasculation.Sanusi is mainly trying to make the real sector work, you can see the house of reps probe on the NNPC. So, what he (Sanusi) is doing is a diplomatic approach.08065868320------------------------------------------------------------------------------You have represented the Southern Nigerian ideology and hatred for the hausa /fulani. Sanusi knows about it. Weldone.08036547771-------------------------------------------------------------------Sanusi's theory of economic emasculation. Good write up. Send it to LFT, BBC and French radio propaganda channels of the imperialists. Put it on the web, facebook, aljazeera.08033403582-----------------------------------------------------On now that we are hereLewis, thank for your piece. My questionis: how many state governors have started the implementation of the new minimum wage, even when it is binded by law' Please ask them. Tunde.
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