From left: Mr. Ezekiel Yerima, with Righteous Samuel and Naima Hussaini, two school girls who returned lost N250,000.

By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Jos – In more than two decades, residents in the Jos and Bukuru metropolis of Plateau State have been highly polarized along major lines of religion and tribes. The major meeting point like the hospital, markets, and a few public schools especially those in border communities are where people of these diverse groups meet for their transactions.

Despite all efforts by government agencies like the Plateau Peace Building Agency and civil society organizations, to broker peace, the barrier of polarized settlements has not been broken. But two teenage girls, Righteous Samuel and Naima Hussaini have reechoed that people are first human before any other affiliations.

The duo are students of Government Secondary School, Bukuru, Jos South Local Government, although they don’t meet to play with each other after school hours due to the segregated settlement, being that they are from different religions but they are classmates and friends who play together in school.

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On the 24th of June, 2022 the duo, as usual, were playing together on the school premises when they sighted a black-coloured nylon bag lying around, their curiosity was pricked and they checked its contents. They found the bag containing some amount of money and without any thought of keeping the money for their use, they picked up the bag and gave it to their teacher, Mr. Ezekiel Yerima.

The teacher later traced the rightful owner and returned the money to him.

Recounting what transpired, Righteous and Naima who are JSS 3 students collaborated on their words saying, “We came out of our class and saw some of our friends outside, we joined them to gist. After some time, we left them and as we were going together, we sighted a nylon bag near a red car parked in the school compound. The bag was looking different so we decided to check what was in it. When we opened it, we found money inside so immediately, we picked up the bag and took it to one of our teachers.”

When asked why they did not keep the money for themselves, Righteous said, “My parents have taught me not to take what does not belong to me,” and her friend, Naima added, “my parents have always told me that what belongs to others is not mine so I should not take what does not belong to me.”

They advise their contemporaries to always honour their parents by adhering to their good advice stressing, “keeping the money would have hurt the owner who may have had plans for it.”

However, the teacher, Mr. Yerima who traced the owner of the money expressed joy at the teenagers’ conduct saying it shows there is hope for tomorrow.

It would be recalled that Mr. Yerima is being owed two months’ salary in his place of work but he chose to return the money to the owner stating it was the right thing to do.

His word, “The incident occurred on the 24th of June, the owner of the money came to the school to supervise the NABTEB examination. I guess the money slipped from his pocket as he was leaving his car so when the students brought it to me and went back to their class, they told me they found it near a red car parked in the school. Since we knew who parked the red car, we called his attention to see if he missed anything.

“When he checked, he said he lost some money which he wrapped in a black polythene bag. He told us the amount was N250,000.00, when we checked, we discovered that it was the same amount that the children brought to me so we gave him the money. He was so happy and we are proud to say that we have students who have displayed such a level of patriotism in a time like this. It shows there is hope for the future.”

It was gathered that the school has honored the students by announcing their good deeds at the Assembly ground, giving them Awards, buying some gifts to appreciate them, and promising to pay their first term fees in the new academic year and their teacher noted, “what they did is exemplary, it must be emulated by all.”

Meanwhile, the students who disclosed their lives’ ambition, called on the State government to assist them in their studies by giving them the needed infrastructure and commendable incentives to their teachers.

A youth leader in the Bukuru area, Aliyu Hassan commended the teenagers and called on residents to eschew unnecessary rancor and embrace one another irrespective of religious or tribal affiliations as according to him, “these children are from different faiths and tribes but they exhibited humanity by not taking what did not belong to them. This type of friendship and goodness must be encouraged among adults.”