Following the burning down of Madonna School for the physically challenged children of St. Michaels Catholic Church by a group of youths at about 6pm on June 13, 2017, there was tension in Okpanam town in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State.
According to a report by Punch, an eyewitness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, for fear of being attacked by those responsible for the act, said; “It was in the evening time, I saw some youths coming through the fence at the back of the bush and set one of the six block classroom and hall on fire, The fire burnt down everything in it.”
It was gathered that on February 27, 2017, two persons from Idege-Ocha village, Obodogwugwu quarters, Okpanam attacked the school, beat up the Reverend Sisters and threatened to kill them if they continued with the school.
Sources said the attack on the school led to the temporary closure of the school. It was learnt that Justice H.O. Akpotohwo of High Court, Akwukwu-Igbo had on 24 April, 2015 granted order of interlocutory injunction restraining trespass into plots of land measuring 11.237 hectares belonging to Madonna School.
The parish priest at St. Michael Catholic Church, Okpanam, Rev. Father Donatus Chukwuedo, said that three days after their visit to the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Ovie Agas, they were informed that the school was on fire.
“We can’t really ascertain the cause of the fire, but what we know is that the entire block of classroom and hall was burnt down, even a pin was not left out. We are calling on the security agency to bring all the culprits to book,” he said.
However, when a correspondent visited Okpanam palace, His Royal Majesty, Mbanefo Michael Ogbolu, the Ugoani of Okpanam, condemned the act.
Ogbolu said, “Burning down of Madonna School is uncalled for because the school, which catered for over 2,000 pupils with disability is the only one in this part of the country, apart from the one in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.”
Confirming the incident, the Delta State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Andrew Aniamaka, said police were aware of the incident in Madonna School.
Aniamaka said the course of the fire incident had not been ascertained, adding, however, that some persons been arrested.