The Lagos State Government has launched an investigation into an alleged case of child brutality at the Eva Adelaja Girls Secondary School in the Bariga area of the state.
PUNCH Metro learnt that a 14-year-old pupil of the school, Ogechi Anyalewechi, was hospitalised after being flogged by the principal of the school and over five other teachers.
The victim was said to have been punished after a prefect of the school, identified only as Zainab, complained to the principal that Ogechi returned a slap she gave her for “being rude”.
It was learnt that the principal and the teachers also took turns to slap the Senior Secondary School 2 student and also asked the prefect to slap her.
A teacher of the school, identified as Mr. Bello, was alleged to have told her to removed her tight (drawers) and flogged her on the buttocks.
Ogechi was said to have been treated at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, after the floggings.
She told PUNCH Metro that her ordeal started after the prefect challenged her for not carrying a chair.
She said, “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.
“She slapped me and out of annoyance, I returned the slap. She then went to report to the principal.”
It was learnt that the principal, identified as Mrs. Coker, summoned Ogechi and ordered her to kneel down.
The victim alleged that after the principal slapped her four times, other teachers present took turns to assault her as well.
“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.”
It was gathered that although school closed officially at 3pm, the 14-year-old did not return home till 5pm.
She was said to have been taken to LASUTH, where she was treated and placed on medication.
Ogechi said, “I could not sleep at night. I was in pain and had to lie down on my stomach.”
Her 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.
“She 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 principal and vice principal of the school later went to the station. A police source at the station explained that a group of seven soldiers, led by a brigadier, who claimed to be the husband of the principal, stormed the station.
The source said, “All of them were in uniform. They went to see the Divisional Police Officer. The IPO was later forced to abandon the case.”
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 quickly switched off her phone after our correspondent introduce himself as a journalist from The PUNCH.
The principal could not be reached.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the case had 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.
Effah-Chukwuma said Ogechi suffered both s*xual and physical abuse, urging the state government to mete out appropriate punishments to the culprits.
She said, “It is s*xual 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.”
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Fela Bank-Olemoh, said the state had started an investigation into the allegeation.
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.