Following the physical assault on a certain 14-year-old pupil of Eva Adelaja Girls Secondary School in the Bariga area of Lagos state, Anyalewechi Ogechi, by her principal and teachers, the Lagos State Government has launched an investigation into the case.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Fela Bank-Olemoh, said the state had started an investigation into the allegation.
He said, “We place value on the dignity of all students in our schools and I want to assure you that we are handling this case with due diligence.”
The Police Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, said the permanent secretary of the ministry of education had already taken over the case.
Ogechi, a Senior Secondary School 2 student, was said to have been punished after a senior prefect of the school, simply identified as Zainab, complained to the principal that Ogechi returned a slap she gave her for being rude.
The principal, simply identified as Mrs. Coker alongside five other teachers, reportedly flogged Ogechi following the complaint from the senior prefect, and inflicted injuries on her.
They took turns to slap her and the principal also ordered the prefect to slap her.
Ogechi was said to have been hospitalized at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Ikeja, after the brutal assault meted on her.
One Mr. Balogun, a teacher of the school, was alleged to have told her to remove her tight (drawers) and flogged her on the buttocks.
However, The Punch reports that Ogechi’s ordeal started after the prefect challenged her for not carrying a chair.
Speaking on the incident, the assaulted student lamented, “Last Wednesday, I got to school around 8am. I was asked to take some chairs from a class to a hall where a programme for principals and school teachers would hold later in the day.
“The prefect challenged me for not participating, but I explained that I was waiting for my turn to carry the chairs. She said I was rude to her and ordered me to kneel down. I refused and told her I was sick.
“She said if I didn’t obey her, she would slap me. I said I didn’t do anything wrong and she couldn’t slap me. She said if I repeated that she would do it, and I repeated it, then she slapped me and out of annoyance, I returned the slap. She then went to report to the principal,” Ogechi added.
According to the report, Mrs. Coker, (the principal) summoned Ogechi and ordered her to kneel down.
Ogechi alleged that after the principal slapped her four times, other teachers present took turns to assault her as well.
She said, “They called the prefect and asked her to slap me in their presence and she did that four times.
“A teacher, Mr. Balogun, ordered me to remove my tight and he flogged me on the buttocks. After this, I was asked to sit for my exam in the vice principal’s office. When I was done, the principal gave the VP a letter, saying I should be made to cut some grass afterwards.
“My school officially closes at 3pm, but I did not return home till 5pm.
Ogechi said, “I could not sleep at night. I was in pain and had to lie down on my stomach.”
The victim’s mother, Mrs. Esther Anyalewechi, said she reported the matter at the Bariga Police Station, adding that she was disappointed with the reaction of the principal.
Her mother said, “The principal said my child would not become somebody in the future. I asked if she were a mother, would she allow anybody to treat her child that way. All I wanted was just an apology for the assault which landed my daughter in the hospital, but she refused,” she added.
The elder brother of the victim, Joseph, said the family was prepared to sue the government to enforce the fundamental rights of his sister.
When the vice principal of the school was contacted for comment, she was said to have switched off her phone when asked to comment on the alleged brutality.
Meanwhile, the case has been brought to the attention of a non-governmental organisation, Project Alert on Violence against Women.
The Executive Director of the group, Mrs. Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, said a petition had been written to the deputy governor of the state, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education and the tutor general of the zone.
According to her, Ogechi suffered both sexual and physical abuse, urging the state government to ensure out appropriate punishments are given to the culprits.
“It is sexual abuse because the report from the girl family says the teacher asked her to remove her tight before the flogging, why didn’t they flog her with her uniform on? We are told that the tight is still with the teacher,” Effah-Chukwuma added.