Wednesday, May 25, 2022
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Chrisland: Police Start Probe, School, Parent Disagree Over Rape Allegation

Chrisland Schools, Lagos State, has denied allegations that a 10-year-old primary six pupil was raped during the school’s participation in the World School Games at Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The female pupil was among 76 pupils that represented the school at the event, which was held between March 8 and 14, 2022.

A statement by a Member, Advisory Board, Chrisland Schools, Akin Fadeyi, titled, ‘Chrisland Children Remain Our Centre of Focus,’ said 71 of the pupils ensured untainted adherence to the school’s standards.

“Within these 71, we kept our girls on the 11th floor and boys on the 4th floor to draw clear lines that respect moral boundaries.

“We were, however, compelled to engage with the parents of the remaining students who unfortunately got themselves involved in misconduct, and in accordance with our code of conduct processes, which are well known to the parents, we meted out measured reprimands to them to instil a sense of discipline and as deterrence to others.

“We are proud to reassure our stakeholders that no rape of anyone or the administration of a pregnancy test on any child took place on our watch. For emphasis, only a COVID post-travel test was conducted on the returning delegation of our students, in compliance with COVID-19 travel protocols at the Life Centre Medical Services on March 21, 2022, at School Hall, Opebi.

“This was through the nose swab test as consistent with COVID-19 health protocols. We trust that this can be verified at the source provided,” the statement added.

The statement came after a video clip of two pupils of the school engaged in what the school described as ‘sexual misconduct’  was shared on Twitter by an unidentified user.

The incident was said to have happened during the school’s trip to  Dubai.

A letter signed by the school’s head teacher, G.I. Azike, to the female student’s parents stated that she was suspended over “sexual misconduct.”

The letter surfaced online late Sunday and was shared by a showbiz personality, Ubi Franklin.

It indicated that the students engaged in a game called ‘Truth or Dare,’ when the act occurred after lights out.

“A full-scale investigation has been done and the parents of all culpable learners have been duly notified with the necessary punishment meted out on the learners.

“We cannot as a school condone such. Consequently, (the female victim) is hereby placed on indefinite suspension until you as the parents ensure that she is punished, adequately counselled and rehabilitated,” the letter read in part.

However, the student’s mother, in an 11-minute video clip released early Monday by Franklin, said the school management, during a meeting, only informed her that her daughter kissed a student.

Franklin later deleted the video.

In the video, the victim’s mother said after the meeting with the management, she did not hear anything from the school until after three weeks when a teacher sent her a Zoom link inviting her for another meeting.

“We had that meeting (involving) board of directors. One particularly said his name is Akin. He led the meeting and began by saying if there is no sin, there won’t be forgiveness and was speaking in parable.

“I had to ask what they were discussing and he said they just wanted to do a follow-up if I had withdrawn my daughter’s phone and to check how she was doing and I said she’s fine.

“But he made a comment that ‘when it happened,’ and I asked what happened, and he asked if she didn’t tell me and I said no she didn’t. So, I started screaming at them to tell me what happened and they said no. 

“So, we finished the meeting. The next day, a parent called me and said she needed to see me urgently. I had to go to her house and she showed me the video and said all the parents are aware,” she added.

She said she immediately called one of the school teachers, who did not take her calls.

The distraught mother said when the teacher eventually picked up, she denied knowledge of the incident.

The woman said she then decided to discipline her daughter in order to force her to talk.

She said, “As we were beating her, she pleaded to talk to me and said a teacher threatened her not to speak out. She narrated how it happened, how they abandoned them in the hotel, how the school left them and how she got into this thing that is happening now.

“They have been having meetings, sending delegates from their headquarters to have meetings with my daughter without my consent. Every day, when she is going to school, I will be forcing her to come outside. They took her to do a pregnancy test without us knowing and lied to us that they were taking her for a COVID test.

“Do they use blood samples or urine for COVID test? And I did not know until this thing came up. Because we started confronting them, they sent her a suspension letter. I am begging Nigerians to help me because Chrisland was trying to hide this issue and push us out of the way and my daughter was going psychologically insane.”

In a statement on Monday, the state government said an investigation had commenced into the matter, adding that all Chrisland schools in the state had been shut down.

“In view of the allegations, we are committed to ensuring that adequate medical and psychosocial support is provided. This is to reassure members of the public of the state government’s commitment to safety and child protection, especially in ensuring that all child-centred institutions within the state formulate and implement policies and systems that are compliant with the Executive Order (NO.EO/AAO8 of 2016), Lagos State Safeguarding and Child  Protection Programme.

“We also use this medium to remind the general public of the implications pertaining to engaging in any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child, commits an offence and is liable to a custodial sentence of 14 years. This includes producing, distributing, receiving and possessing an image of child pornography.

“In the meantime, all Chrisland schools within Lagos State are hereby closed, pending further investigations,” the statement said in part.

Reacting, the state Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi, in a statement released by the command’s spokesperson, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, also said the command had commenced an investigation into the matter.

“The command has commenced investigations into the matter with a view to establishing the identities of the players in the video, the true incident in the video, the geographical location of the incident, the alleged threat to life against a student of the school and circumstances surrounding the alleged repeated pregnancy tests conducted on a student without parental consent.

“The command is equally taking cognizance of the cybercrime angle to the whole episode and would not hesitate to enlist the support of the Interpol should the need arise. For a holistic and unbiased investigation, the command shall be working with relevant ministries, departments, agencies and non-governmental organisations.”

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, in a statement, said, “The decision of the Lagos State Government to close down the school is commendable.  A thorough and speedy investigation of the immoral act ought to be carried out with a view to sanctioning the teachers who failed to provide effective supervision of the pupils during the trip to the United Arab Emirates.

“In particular, the allegation of the mother that her daughter was subjected to pregnancy tests without parental consent should be referred to the police for investigation and possible prosecution,” he added.

In his reaction to the incident, a senior lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, condemned the parents, school management, government, and Nigerians for sharing the sexually explicit content online.

He said, “Parents have a responsibility in providing moral education for their children because children are susceptible to all sorts of influences by the media, including the broadcast media, radio and films that they watch at home. So, parents have the responsibility to nurture their children before they hand them over to schools.

“As for the school, this is not the first time things like this would be happening in Chrisland; the other time, a teacher was said to have raped and it resulted in a trial and it became topical for a long time. And that calls to question the responsibility of the management of Chrisland.

“What is the supervisory mechanism that exists in that school particularly when we are talking about young children that are prone to abuse not only by paedophile teachers but by fellow students. If students are released to their teachers and handlers to embark on a foreign trip, they have a bigger duty to supervise them 24-hour and also keep a vigil on them while they are asleep.

“But with what happened, they failed woefully in their duty to ensure that the children did not fall into any moral harm. And the fact that they allegedly attempted to cover it up aggravated that failure, and in the process of the cover-up, they violated the right of the child when they took the child to allegedly conduct a pregnancy test without the knowledge of the parents.”

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