The Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade has directed the immediate suspension of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mrs. Anne Odey, for issuing a directive, banning devotions in schools in the state without due approval.
Odey had, on October 21, written to all the private and public primary and secondary schools in the state, ordering them to suspend morning and afternoon devotions as a result of intelligence report that bordered on security.
The government said the directive violated civil service rules.
In an interview with journalists on Friday, the State Security Adviser, Mr. Jude Ngaji said the governor had directed that the permanent be suspended indefinitely while the ban be lifted immediately.
He said, “It is true that Police got intelligence information that Boko Haram are planning to bomb schools during morning devotion and therefore directed authorities in the ministry of education to act fast. But the permanent secretary did not bother to revert to the governor nor call for stakeholders’ meeting to that effect.
“So, the governor felt pained that the permanent secretary got such sensitive information without seeking for his advice and rather went ahead to issue directive suspending morning devotion in private and public schools knowing that such sensitive directive could be counter-productive.
“In the light of the above, the governor has directed that the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mrs Anne Odey, be suspended forthwith, while the ban has been lifted immediately as there is no instruction to that effect from the governor’s office.”
The state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria had, on Wednesday, condemned in strong terms, the directive, declaring it unacceptable.
The state Chairman of CAN, Archbishop Joseph Ukpo, called on the state government to immediately withdraw such directive as it negated the freedom of worship hitherto practised in the state.
The state security adviser, therefore, appealed to religious leaders to disregard such instructions as the state government was committed to inculcating good moral lessons in pupils in both private and public schools.
However, the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Tina Agbor, said in another statement that Ayade had directed the setting up of a three-man panel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the issuance of the circular without recourse to higher authorities, while the State Security Adviser, Mr. Jude Ngaji, in his own statement said the governor had ordered Odey’s suspension.
According to the statement by Agbor, the panel is to be chaired by the Deputy Governor, Prof. Ivara Esu, with the Secretary to the State Government as the secretary.