Apparently angered by the directive banning morning devotion and prayers in private and public primary and secondary schools in the state, the Cross River State Governor has ordered the immediate suspension of the Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry Of Education, Mrs Anne Odey.
The state government has also directed the lifting of the ban on devotion and prayers in the schools across the state.
Odey was alleged to have flouted laid down civil service rules by making the announcement through a circular she signed that was forwarded to all public and private primary and secondary schools in the state, ordering the ban of morning and afternoon devotion in the schools.
Odey is believed to have issued the circular based on an alleged advice from the state police command due to security challenges facing the nation.
But, in a swift reaction to the development, the State Security Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade, Mr Jude Ngaji, disclosed to journalists that the governor had ordered that the permanent secretary be suspended indefinitely with immediate effect.
Ngaji who spoke to journalists in Calabar on Friday said the governor was not aware of such directive.
Ngaji said from preliminary investigation, it had been established that Ayade did not direct her to issue such a circular because the permanent secretary never informed the governor of such advice from the police command.
“It is true that police got intelligence that Boko Haram are planning to bomb schools during morning devotion and therefore directed authorities in 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 feel pained that the permanent secretary got such sensitive information without seeking for his advice and rather went ahead to issue directive suspending morning devotions 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,” Ngaji said.
Ngaji said: “it would be contradictory to say that the governor, who not only believe and fear God, but a strong catholic that believes in the moral content of morning devotion would turn around to do otherwise.”
Ngaji appealed to religious leaders to discountenance such instructions as the state government is committed to inculcating good moral lessons into the pupils and students in both private and public schools.
The announcement had attracted a lot of reactions from Church leaders and Christians in the state, with the state Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Archbishop Joseph Edra Ukpo, CAN, calling on the state government to immediately withdraw such a directive because it negated freedom of worship hitherto practiced in the state.
“This directive will negatively affect the moral upbringing of our children who are further leaders of this country,” Ukpo said.
The CAN chairman declared that such directive was unacceptable to Christians in the state.
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