Written by Austine ELEMUE

Kuje Special school rape scandal: Ministry vows stiff action

The Federal Ministry of Education has vowed to deal decisively with anyone found culpable in the alleged rape of a six-year old male pupil in the FCT School for the Deaf and Physically Challenged.

Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Sonny Echono, said this while speaking to journalists during an investigation tour of the school in Kuje, last week.

Echono said: "If any child has been cannibalized in this school, if children are being physically assaulted or sexually molested, we will not hesitate to close the school and people would be hanged in this country, the full weight of the law would be brought to bear".

Commenting on the alleged sexual abuse of the minor, Echono acknowledged that abuse carried out against the child, but stressed that the full details have not been established.

"That particular case is a special case and we have concluded that there was definitely an abuse of that child. What we don't know at this stage is when, where and how that child was abused. The details would be concluded when we conclude the exercise here.

"We came here with the assumption that it might have occurred here (School for the Deaf, Kuje). Even independent people who knew the child before now have given testimonies about the child. It would take a matter of days, in fact before the end of the week. It is the final stage of the results that would guide what action we would take. But if we find out it is not true the reverse would be the case.

"We are here on preliminary report, we have been doing the investigation in a covered manner before now and for more than a week there are certain things we have been doing here without talking about it, but unfortunately it was escalated on the radio that is why it is now in the open. Our investigation is now at the final stage, a lot has been done between Ministry of Education, FCT administration and the police.

"We will address Nigerians on what has been found, but the issues are grievous. It has to do with national security, it also bothers on the rights of a child and child abuse. I won't be able to talk openly but there is a security report already. Let me also appeal that if there is any parent whether current or in the past whose child has disappeared, or died in mysterious circumstances or they could not find the body of their child, please that parent whether current or previous parent in the last 10 years should please contact us to let us know. 

"Besides parents, if anybody have any information on mysterious circumstances, even if it is not your child and it is another parent but you heard the child disappeared in this school please let us know. We have inspected the premises, and the school is fenced, we have looked at the students physically and the medical examinations are ongoing as I speak with you and we have met with parents and we have sourced for their consent to examine their children and they have given us their consent.

"We have also contacted parents individually in the last three weeks to get information and we have also collated the information. And some of the findings, we decided it is better to have physical medical examination of the students, that one cannot be hidden. We want to assure all parents that the true results would be revealed to Nigerians", he affirmed. 

In his remarks the Executive Chairman of the Universal Basic Education Board, Dr Kabir Matazu, thanked the ministry for embarking on an independent investigation, just as he revealed that the school has been in existence for about 29 years and no such complaints have ever been made against the school.

"We thank Ministry of Education for doing an independent investigation. This school was established in 1990 and from the record we have, this is the first time. The lady in question brought the child for admission in September 2018 and the boy resumed in October 2018 and the school vacated in November 2018.

"The child is 6 years old and was in the school for about 6 weeks. The lady reported the issue sometime in December 2018 when the school had already vacated and asked to come back in January 2019 when the school resumes. The child was never brought to the sick bay in the school. And the child is only 6 years old," he stated.

Meanwhile, the FCT Secretary for Education, Dr. Liman Bala, has ordered an internal investigation into the matter.

This was contained in a press statement issued by the Assistant Director in charge of Information, Mr. Anthony Ogunleye and made available to journalists.

The statement enjoined parents to remain calm pending the outcome of the preliminary investigation.



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