By Olakunle Olafioye
Mrs Rukayat Samad, an alumnus of of Ansar-ud-Deen Comprehensive High School, Lafenwa, Ota, Ogun State, could not stop wondering over what she described as the height of moral degeneration among the current set of students in her alma mater.
Reports coming from the school in recent weeks have been anything but cheering. Teachers, students as well as the residents of the community where the school is situated said they now work, learn and live in constant fear of a group of students they refer to as Shobolabasa gang.
The gang, a group of delinquent youths, is said to have suddenly become a source of terror to the school and the host community. Reflecting on this disturbing issue, Mrs Samad could only recall with nostalgia how her alma mater, which once regarded as the hallmark of discipline and moral rectitude, has suddenly become a laughing stock in and around Ota axis of Ogun State.
Rumour in the last few weeks had claimed that some morally bankrupt students of the school took their delinquency to an unimaginable length recently when they organized a sex party tagged Shobolabasa Day. Shobolabasa is a vulgar and offensive Yoruba coinage which could be loosely interpreted as free-for-all-sex party, to the chagrin of the school authorities and residents of the community. Shobolabasa Day, Sunday Sun gathered, is a sex party during which about four male students have sexual intercourse with a female student.
But when Sunday Sun visited Ansar-ud-Deen Comprehensive High School, Lafenwa, Ota, on Tuesday, March 16, the serene ambience of the school initially seemed to belie the tag of notoriety that had been slammed on the school.
A cursory survey of the surroundings of the school, situated on an expansive parcel of land at Koro-Otun, Ota, a border community with Lagos, palpably evinced a façade of decorum and orderliness about the students of the school whom some residents claimed were becoming major nuisance to the community.
But the doubt over the veracity or otherwise of their claim soon petered out as Sunday Sun correspondent later discovered that the prevailing calmness which pervaded the school environment at the time was preceded and largely occasioned by the visit of a Zonal Police Commander in the state to the school earlier in the day.
A source who pleaded anonymity said that the visit by the Zonal Police Commander to the school was aimed at assessing the situation in the school.
“At first, we thought the presence of the police team would scare them. But we were, however, surprised to see them, pelting the police team with stones. A similar scenario played out yesterday when the Divisional Police Officer in the area visited the school. Some of them (students) stood over there and threatened to deal with the DPO if he tried anything strange. I believe the reason you don’t see them around now is because they thought the police team could return and might want to catch them unawares,” the source hinted.
The visit by Sunday Sun correspondent to the school last Tuesday coincided with that of the Olota of Ota, Oba Adeyemi Abdukadir Obalenge, who equally revealed during a meeting with the teachers in the school that he was on a mission to ascertain the veracity of the unpleasant reports coming from the school, as well as to be able to explore area of possible collaboration with the school management in finding a lasting solution to the problem.
Although the school management declined to comment on the issue, multiple sources within and outside the school confided in Sunday Sun that the teachers, just like their law-abiding students, as well as residents of the community are in constant fear of the gang. Another source who pleaded anonymity told our correspondent that the school had filed a report to the education authorities in the state, but regretted that nothing concrete had been done to address the problem.
According to the source, “the state of affair in the school does not support sound teaching and learning at all because of the fear of attack by these boys. We specifically don’t know what they intend to achieve with their misbehaviour, but what I know is that their activities have become a major source of distraction to the school. Their major weapons are stones. They pelt anybody and everybody, including their colleagues who are in the school learning with stones. Because of the porous and dilapidated nature of the school fence, they go out and come into the school at will without the fear of their teachers. While lectures are going on they will move outside the school with their MP3 players and start blaring music to distract everybody in the school.”
Sunday Sun also gathered that the school management summoned a Parent-Teacher Forum (PTF) meeting last December with the intention of appealing to parents to persuade and rein in their erring children, but the meeting ended abruptly as the gang again mobilized to rain stones on their parents and their teachers.
“It was a very scary experience for both their parents, particularly those who had not experienced this side of their misbehaviour until that day, and their teachers as well. Some parents who could not control their anger resorted to raining curses on them for daring to pelt them with stones.”
After the stoning incident, Sunday Sun learnt that some of the teachers at the school took a decision to stay away from the school until the government was able to proffer a lasting solution.
The leadership of the school was, however, said to have prevailed on them to drop the idea, reasoning that the decision could be wrongly interpreted that they were being sponsored by the opposition party to revolt against the state government.
Reacting to the allegation on the sex party allegedly organized by the students of the school, a source in the school said although the school also received the report that a sex party was organized by some students, the source, however, maintained that no such party was held in the school premises.
“Yes, we received a report that some students organized Shobolabasa, a form of sex party, but I can argue it anywhere that the party, if at all there was anything like that, did not take place within the school premises. The fact that we have been advised to be cautious and avoid trouble with these students does not imply that we should fold our arms or close our eyes to the point of allowing such atrocity to take place in the school. Talk about truancy, yes; talk about stoning and disturbing the school in every other way, yes; these are their stock in trade, but on the issue of sex party, there was nothing like that in this school,” the source maintained.
Findings by Sunday Sun showed that the allegation of students organizing sex parties was not peculiar to Ansar-ud-Deen Comprehensive High School alone as other sources claimed that students in other schools in the area also organized similar parties at intervals.
A youth leader in Ota, Yusuf Shoyemi, disclosed that students from other schools in the area have also been accused of staging similar parties at various times.
“Other secondary schools in and around Ota equally have their own versions of sex parties under different titles. Besides Sobolabasa Day, there is Sobolerefo Day, Sobolese Day among others. Schools like Iganmode Grammar School, AUD Comprehensive High School and Anglican Grammar School, Ota, are not excluded. Sadly enough, this has been going on for some time now, but the people including the managements of some of these schools feigning unconcerned about it. But now that the issue seems to have gone out of hands, they are now running helter-skelter looking for solution. But now that the problem has attracted the attention of the media I hope the government will step in and help to arrest the situation before it begins to spread to primary schools,” Shoyemi stated.