The defilement of pupils by their teachers or other adults entrusted with their care is, sadly, not new, even if fewer cases end up being reported for various reasons, ranging from fear of stigma to cultural inhibitions.
For instance, some two years ago, the Ogun State Police Command arrested a school bus driver for allegedly defiling a four-year-old pupil on the school bus. In September 2021 also, a Grade Two teacher in Borgu Local Government Area of Niger State was accused of defiling 14 pupils of the school.
However, the alleged defilement of a seven-year-old pupil by her school bus driver in Lagos State and the subsequent killing of her father by the same suspect must not be treated as previous cases.
According to a news report, the pupil’s father, identified simply as Frederick, died while seeking justice for his daughter. Frederick’s widow had told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that her daughter narrated to her how Jacob had been taking her to his house at Ajuwon in Ogun to molest her.
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She said: “On Wednesday, February 1, my daughter told me that her school bus driver had been taking her to his house at Ajuwon, on the pretext that he needed to drop something at home, and that she should follow him.
“When they entered the house, the driver would ask my daughter to sit on his lap; to raise her school uniform and to kiss him on his mouth. I told my husband what our daughter said on Monday, February 6, and he immediately called the school to lodge a complaint and said he was also reporting the allegation to the police.
“He was told to come to the school first, so we went there on Tuesday, February 7, and met the school owner, the driver and some of the teachers.
“The school owner, after listening to us, confronted the driver, saying that he had returned late with the school bus the previous week and when asked, he said he had gone to drop something at home.
“He was later asked about the allegation levelled against him, but he denied it. My daughter was then asked and she narrated the same experience she told us at home.
“The driver couldn’t say anything other than to query, ‘me, me, me?’ My husband who was visibly angry went to the driver and shouted at him to question why he had molested his daughter.
“My husband angrily slapped the driver and they started fighting during which he pushed my husband on his chest. He fell and efforts to revive him were abortive.”
This is indeed a very unfortunate incident and we commiserate with the family of the deceased over the death. They should also know that the nation and all people of goodwill are with them at this trying period.
This is truly a sad development. While we urge the police to go after the alleged culprit and treat this case with all the seriousness it deserves, we equally advise parents and guardians to resist resorting to self-help, no matter the provocation. They should always allow the law to take its course. In this case particularly, the police should have been involved ab initio.
Schools should also understand the weight of responsibility they carry by looking after the pupils and students in their care, the same way they will expect others to do for their children. Perhaps, the deceased did not see any sign of commitment by the school management on the matter, which may have caused him to act the way he did.
School owners should do background checks on applicants before employing them so as to have their records before entrusting them with any responsibility, including taking care of children. They should also come up with standard operating procedure (SOP) on how parents should report cases of wrongdoing to the management, which include expediting action on issues such as this. The police, who are now handling the matter, should do a thorough job, so as to serve as a deterrent to would-be molesters. The police should act speedily and avoid situations where justice is delayed, or even denied. If Nigeria failed the father while alive, we must not fail him in death.
Indeed cases of molestation of children are on the rise across the country and all stakeholders must rise to tackle them immediately.
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