Soun Basic School, Oke-Alapata, Ogbomoso, is currently unable to open for academic activities as the school is enmeshed in a serious crisis over allegations of witchcraft, as a mistress in the school (names withheld) is alleged of being a witch by at least 24 primary six pupils, who allegedly confessed she initiated them into the society.
Last week Wednesday and Thursday, July14 and 15, parents and hoodlums besieged the school hurling stones, clubs and other weapons over the development, spoiling to beat up the teachers, leading to a hurried closure of the school and on the third day, both teachers and pupils could not report to school for fear of attack.
According to investigations, trouble started towards the last week of June when a parent came to the school to lodge a complaint in the office of the head teacher (names withheld) that her daughter reported at home that she confessed being a witch.
The said parent started howling that it was a false accusation, causing a commotion in the head teacher’s office, a woman, who was said to be hearing of the matter for the first time.
The head teacher hurriedly summoned the primary six class mistress (names also withheld), under whose watch the matter broke a day earlier as well as the accused teacher.
Upon reaching the office, she was confronted with the report and was said to have explained: “Yes ma, after I settled in class yesterday, one of the pupils in my class came to me that ‘she had a confession to make that she would like to make heaven,’ I was rattled but listened to her.
“The pupil continued that she was a member of the witch fraternity adding that she was not alone in her class, she pointed out other pupils, who are members and they reportedly also admitted being members. In all, 24 pupils confessed to being witches and they alleged the primary two class mistress (mentioned above) in the school as being the one that initiated them.
“They said she was their head in the school and that she was the spiritual killer (olobe). They made many confessions. I asked questions and investigated further. We were still on it when the school closed yesterday,” the mistress reportedly disclosed.
But the accused reportedly flared up, insisting it was an orchestrated slander against her. The pupils were said to have been invited too and they were claimed to have repeated their confession implicating the said mistress.
That was the genesis of the crisis, according to findings; the angry parent was pacified and she left. The head teacher subsequently informed the Ogbomoso South Local Government Education Authority (LGEA) and the Association of Primary School Headteachers of Nigeria (AOPSHON) as well as the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) executives for mediation.
But following that, the mistress alleged of initiating the pupils flared up when she got wind of the matter and she responded by storming the school shortly after with her lawyer and police officers, who invited the head teacher, her two assistants, the mistress whom the pupils allegedly confessed to and the twenty four pupils.
They landed at Police Area Command Office at Owode, where they were questioned by policemen. The pupils reportedly stood by their earlier confession though a source said the pupils recanted. They were released at about 8:00pm that day. They returned the second day and were granted bail.
However, it was gathered that when they arrived the school at about 8:00pm that first day it was a tumultuous crowd that greeted them back to the school, with some in the crowd rough handling the head teacher, who was rescued by those who identified her.
The mob action continued the second day as parents, hoodlums and others trooped to the school causing pandemonium. “What was the grouse? Why the commotion? Who was the target – the woman alleged of being a witch, the pupils, the head teacher or the mistress the pupils allegedly made confession to?” ogbomosinsightonline.com sought to know but no answer could be obtained. The commotion on Thursday caused the authorities of the school to refrain from opening the school yesterday, July 16, even as the mob reportedly stormed the school yet again.
ogbomosoinsightonline.com got the head teacher on phone but she declined to talk saying as a civil servant she had no authority to speak to the press.
Also, a source close to the woman alleged of initiating the pupils reportedly claimed she had nothing to do with being a witch, “It is a slanderous accusation we could not fathom,” the source stated.
A source at Owode Police Station meanwhile confirmed the case saying, “Yes, the head teacher and her assistants as well as two teachers and pupils were at the station on Wednesday and Thursday.”
In the meantime, it is learnt that the Oyo State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has waded into the matter and had summoned the actors in the matter.