Attacks by gunmen on rural communities in Benue State this year alone forced over 20,000 pupils out of school, 16,000 of whom are currently housed in various internally displaced persons’ camps across the state.

The chairman of the state Universal Basic Education Board, Philip Tachin, who disclosed this to journalists in Makurdi yesterday, said more than 50 public primary school structures were also destroyed.

“Yes, it is true that some schools were completed and when destroyed. At least I have pictures that have been sent to me but I don’t know the exact number of schools that have been destroyed but they maybe tuning to over 40 or 50 thereabout. There is no way I can access those places myself because of the insecurity. One of the picture of the completed project was sent to me by a military person when they went there and saw that they came and burnt down the whole thing, the block that was completed.

“Another contractor sent to me that he had finished the project but went there and saw that the Fulani people had burnt down the building, so there are several of those. You know that thousands of school children have been forced out of school in those affected places. It’s difficult to even know exactly what was there because of insecurity. Going there is security risk,” Tachin said.

On abandoned primary school projects in the state, Tachin said the board would compile the names of defaulting contractors and forward same to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission if they failed to complete those projects by next month.

“I have given them (contractors) up to December, and if they don’t comply with directives, I will compile their names to the EFCC. The projects were meant to be completed within 12 weeks, but it is over three years now and the contractors are delaying the work,” he said.

He noted that the board had earlier terminated about 90 primary school projects abandoned by some contractors in parts of the state.

He said the projects which, awarded specifically to be completed in 12 weeks, had lasted for over three years as contractors complained of inflation.

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