Paul Obi in Abuja
The federal government on Tuesday set up a committee to investigate the alleged sexual assault of a JSS 2 female student of Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos by a male teacher in the secondary school.
Mr. Olaseni Oshifala, a biology teacher at Queen’s College, was accused by a parent, Mrs. Chinenye Okoye, of making sexual advances at the girl by kissing and touching her private parts.
A statement by the Deputy Director, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. Ben Goong, said: “Worried by the development, the Minister of State for Education Prof. Anthony Anwuka, constituted a five-man panel on Tuesday (yesterday), which he also dispatched immediately to the college.
“The panel, whose members’ identities were concealed by the minister, is to unravel the veracity of the allegations levelled against the teacher.”
He charged members of the panel to do a thorough investigation to unravel the truth behind the allegations as well as make recommendations to government on how to deal with the situation based on the principles of truth, justice and fairness to all parties.
Anwuka also tasked the “parents, guardians, students and staff of Queen’s College who may have credible information on the matter to avail same to the committee via the following telephone number: 07034613096 and email: email@example.com.
He equally assured the public, particularly parents and guardians whose wards are in any of the federal government colleges, that their children are in safe hands and government would continue to do everything possible within the ambit of the law to protect their wards in all federal government schools across the country, including Queen’s College, Lagos.
He said: “Let me also use the opportunity to advise all parents to remain calm and avoid taking rash decisions that may affect their wards adversely.”
The investigation panel has two weeks within which to submit its report.
When queried on the concealment of the identities of members of the panel, Goong informed THISDAY that the decision to conceal their identities was done to prevent undue pressure on the committee.
The Parents Teachers Association (PTA) of the school on Monday also set up a panel to look into the allegation of sexual assault in the college.
Chairman of the association, Mrs. Beatrice Akhetuanen explained that there was need to thoroughly investigate the matter.
The accused teacher was alleged to be drunk most of the time and was in the habit of molesting the girl but she was rescued by some of the girls on that fateful day.
The student’s mother had alleged that she reported the case to the house mistress who confirmed that the teacher was in the habit of sexually assaulting students of the all-girls school, and there was nothing that could be done to him.
She alleged that the case was also reported to the vice-principal of the school, but said that the vice-principal had said that theh teacher would not be relieved of his job, threatening instead that her daughter would have to leave.
Since the story on the alleged sexual assault broke, it has gone viral on the social media, prompting the school principal, Mrs. Lami Amodu, to issue a statement, absolving the teacher of any wrong-doing and insinuating that mischief makers were out to tarnish the image of the college.
The school principal said that the allegation was an attempt to ridicule, not just Osifala, but the “hard-earned reputation” of Queen’s College.
She said: “I have zero tolerance for such behaviour. I have a daughter who schools here, even before I became the principal. I will not take chances.
“As I speak, no single parent has come to me or any of my vice-principals to report the teacher as a molester. I assure you that if the allegation was true, other parents would have been buzzing our lines non-stop”.