Pupils of Loje International Schools, Ajegunle, Lagos State and their parents were shocked on Friday after some policemen from the Ajeromi Police Station forcefully locked up the school over the proprietress’s alleged inability to pay some debts.
Parents, pupils and the school’s teachers, who stood outside the locked gates of the school, were informed that the proprietress, Mrs. Loveth Nwachukwu, had borrowed some money from one Mrs. Stella Ikechukwu, a businesswoman, and had yet to make payment.
The policemen were said to have been accompanied by Stella and her husband.
PUNCH Metro gathered that LIS, which is composed of nursery, primary and secondary schools, had a population of about 250 pupils.
While teachers and other employees allegedly tried to placate the policemen and the Ikechukwus, pupils of the school reportedly milled about on the street, waiting for an end to the problem.
After several hours, during which some angry parents had allegedly turned back home with their children, the school gates were said to have been reopened at about 10am.
A source, requesting anonymity said, “From what we learnt, Nwachukwu had borrowed some money from Stella; she borrowed N500,000.
“To assure Stella that she would make payment, Nwachukwu gave her title documents of the land on which the school was built. Somewhere along the line, it seems Stella defaulted in making payments and that is why they brought the policemen to close down the school.”
President of Path of Peace Initiatives, Mr. Dandy Eze, described the incident as unlawful and embarrassing. He said, “When the incident came to my attention, I went down to the scene and spoke with one of the policemen. He simply replied that he was acting on orders from above. We intend to petition the Inspector General of Police over this incident.”
When PUNCH Metro contacted Nwachukwu, she said, “I was not around on the day of the incident, but I was informed by my employees that some policemen came to the school compound at about 6.30am and forcefully ejected the security personnel before locking the gate.
“I was told that they kept telling everyone on the street that I had borrowed some money and refused to pay. That is not the true picture of things. I actually borrowed some money from Stella – about N500,000 – and was to pay N100,000 as interest every month. I have finished paying the initial capital that I borrowed and only defaulted in paying the interest in February.
“Unfortunately, I have not been around for a while because I have been ill and this I tried to explain to Stella. Although I gave her the title document of the land on which the school is built as collateral, Stella had been threatening to lock up the school until I pay up. She had already reported me to the Ajeromi Police Division in February and when the police contacted me, they advised that I settle with Stella.
“So you can imagine my surprise when my employees called me on Friday that the school had been locked up. I was told that several parents threatened to withdraw their children as soon as the term was over because of the embarrassment.”
However, Stella’s husband, Ikechukwu, said Nwachukwu had yet to make any payment on the money she borrowed.
He said, “Initially we did not want to make a big deal of the matter, but we observed that she moved out of her house at Ago to another location and she never told us.
“Since then, she has been evasive, avoiding our calls and dodging us. That was why we went to the police. We only took that step on Friday hoping that she would be forced to show up at the school. Presently, Nwachukwu’s husband has intervened along with some other persons and we have settled things amicably.”
When the Lagos State Police Public Relations Offiecr DSP Ngozi Braide was conatcted, she said, “I will get back to you with the details.” (Punch)