Public school buildings in Imo State appear to have been converted to safe havens for criminals after school hours.
Investigations by our correspondents in various locations show that some hoodlums now use the school premises as hideouts where they waylay people and dispossess them of their belongings.
Others rape innocent girls that cross their path while some smoke Indian hemp and defecate in classrooms at random.
Concerned citizens who spoke to Christian Voice wondered the effect of these activities on the school children and called on the government to redress the situation.
One of the respondents, a trader who did not volunteer his name, urged the government to force the teachers to live in the school premises where there are quarters, adding that unless these criminals are flushed, their activities could threaten the free education programme of Gov.
By Nick Chibunna
Meanwhile, a fire incident at Umuiyi Community School, Akabo in Ikeduru Local Government Area, has been linked to the hoodlums who smoke and throw cigarette and hemp stumps into the bush while they are still aglow.
The fire gutted furniture and building materials worth millions of naira, including a model six-classroom block of the school.
A community leader said that the police had severally been alerted on the activities of the criminals in the school.
Speaking to Christian Voice, the head master of the school, Mr. Gad I. Nwigwe, lamented that for long, the school had been under the threat of bad boys and hoodlums who now see public schools as safe for all manner of criminalities including the smoking of cannabis and other immoral practices.
On steps taken to arrest the situation, Mr. Nwigwe said that several reports and appeals had been made to the host community and its leadership, but not much had been achieved.
The school head said that the hoodlums had severally boasted that no power could stop them from carrying out their nefarious acuities in the school compound, adding that they had carried out their threats by setting the school on fire.
Mr. Nwigwe who conducted Christian Voice round the damaged building and its environs, has passionately appealed to the Imo State Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha to come to the rescue as furniture and materials, including desks and chairs supplied by the Imo state government had been gutted.
However, a top police officer told Christian Voice that the police had helped the community members to put off the fire on receiving a distress call.
He said that no response was received when the firemen at Wetheral Road and Government House were contacted.
He said that the police had begun investigation into the activity of some suspected young men in the community.