The Buhari administration has vowed to expel students from government-run Unity Schools if their parents use the social media to “spread false and negative information” against the schools.
The Federal Ministry of Education issued the shocking order and communicated the same via an October 10 memo to all unity schools.
The circular said some parents were in the habit of making false claims on the internet, aimed at “tarnishing the image of the Federal Unity Colleges and inciting other parents/general public”.
“It has been observed that some parents and guardians of students under the guise of concerned parents are in the habit of using social media platforms through which they spread false and negative information aimed at tarnishing the image of the federal unity colleges and inciting other parents and general public,” the letter signed for the Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, said.
“These unwholesome acts are inimical to the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of the federal unity colleges and will not be tolerated.”
The circular said the government recognised the Parents Teachers Association as the only body for parents to collectively address issues relating to their children and wards.
“Any other group or body therefore, other than the PTA claiming to be acting on behalf of parents of students of Federal Unity Schools, is doing so unlawfully,” it warned.
It concluded: “In view of the foregoing. Henceforth, the child/ward of any parent/guarding found to be using the social media to spread false and negative information or incite other parents, will be withdrawn from the college. Parents and guardians are therefore advised to desist from such unwholesome acts.”
The circular was distributed seven months after a report about the abuse of schoolgirls at Queens College, Lagos, drew nationwide outrage.
The allegation centered on how a teacher, Olaseni Osifala, sexually molested a 13-year-old girl of the school.
The government and the school authority responded to the controversy by promising investigations and adjustments. It was not immediately clear if anything had been done about the matter.
The circular, which was issued from the office of director of human resources management at the ministry, angered many Nigerians after it was posted online ON Friday.
Chidi Odinkalu, president of Unity Schools Old Students Association, said the directive implied the ministry was moving against “free expression”.
“Nigeria’s Fed. Min. of Education will throw kids out of school if their parents do free expression on social media,” Mr. Odinkalu tweeted with a photograph of the circular.
“Free speech is sacrosanct in a constitutional democracy. This is unconstitutional and unacceptable,” another Twitter user, Akanimo Ukpe, wrote.