20181008

Illegal Maritime Academy Busted; Owner, Teachers Arrested

The Nigerian Navy Ship Jubilee, Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State, has sealed an illegal maritime institution, Merchant Seaman Academy, and apprehended four persons including the school’s proprietor, Mr Adams Pius, in the Essien Udim area of the state.

It was learnt that the school, whose academic activities had been stopped in 2013, allegedly resumed in 2016, using “unwholesome strategies to defraud innocent Nigerian youths”.

The Executive Officer of the NNS Jubilee, Captain Suleiman Ibrahim, said former President Goodluck Jonathan proscribed the activities of the institution, among others, because it did not have the capacity to train merchant navy.

According to him, the navy received an intelligence report that the institution, after it was proscribed, resumed operation.

He noted that the NNS Jubilee stormed the institution on Friday and shut it indefinitely.

“This year, we received an intelligence report that the same school resumed training of young Nigerians in maritime studies in spite of the fact that there is no authority for them to do so.

“This was what led to our raiding of this place; we are shutting it down once more. We will also find out from the proprietor what authority he has to continue training young innocent Nigerians when he fully knows that the school does not have the capacity for this kind of training,” he added.

The NNS Jubilee handed the four suspects and 19 students, consisting of 17 males and two females, to the Divisional Police Officer of the area.

Ibrahim explained that he had briefed the Commissioner of Police in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi, who asked the DPO to take charge of the case.

The proprietor, Pius, said he set up the school as a mono-technic for the training of young Nigerians in shipping and security management technology.

The 46-year-old explained that the school applied to the Corporate Affairs Commission and received a Memorandum of Understanding, adding that he also applied to the National Board for Technical Education, which sent its accreditation team to the academy for programmes accreditation.

He noted that all the programmes of the academy were fully accredited.

“I have the accreditation certificate. As I am talking to you, the students passed through JAMB to gain admission into the academy. We don’t send text messages to students through fraudulent means as alleged.

“We go into the Central Admission Processing System, and once a person gets admission from the CAPS, JAMB will send the names of those students to the porter; it is then that the students will contact the school for admission,” he said.

One of the students, Mr Anieto Solomon, from Oguata, Anambra State, told our correspondent that he sat the United Tertiary Matriculation Examinations, adding that JAMB sent him to the school through a text message.

He noted that his first choice institution was the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, while his second choice was the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede.

He lamented that he did not know how he got admission into the MSA through the UTME, noting that he was only aware of the school through the SMS which he thought emanated from JAMB.

Another student, Olim Joseph, from Ogoja, Cross River State, said he had been in the school for the past two years studying marine engineering.

He said he did not include maritime study in his JAMB form, but because of the admission JAMB sent to him, he went for the course.

He said, “I got here through a text message from JAMB that I had been admitted into this institution. I was asked to call a telephone number that was attached to the text for further information. It was on this strength that I came to this place from Cross River.

“The fees depend on the voyage. Students on the first voyage paid N191,000, and those who are in their second voyage paid N150,000. A voyage lasts for four months.”

The Punch observed that there was no pond, stream or river around the school, which is cited in a bush, about a kilometre from the community.

It was also observed that two students were paired in a room which had no door or window.

The students told The Punch that they often came in contact with snakes, which usually made way into classrooms and the school’s premises.