* Closes Ijegun school where proprietor allegedly defiled 2 students
By Monsuru Olowoopejo
As schools resumed for the new session yesterday across Lagos, the state government has vowed to shut any school that failed to provide adequate security for its pupils, leading to the premises been used to perpetrate defilement, rape or other illicit acts.
Worried by the increase in reported cases of defilement, the state government commenced the exercise shutting the private primary school where proprietor, Mr. Joseph Ogunleye was charged to court over alleged defilement of two pupils in his school.
The 56-year-old proprietor, who was charged before a Yaba Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos, allegedly defiled a seven-year-old girl and a 10-year-old girl who were pupils in his school on June 27, 2015 at Ijegun, Ikotun area of Lagos.
Ogunleye, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge before the Magistrate, Mrs. O.A. Erinle. The magistrate however granted him bail in the sum of N500,000, with two sureties in like sum and adjourned the case till October 26, 2015.
Barely a month to the next trial, Vanguard gathered that the state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has directed officials of the Monitoring and Investigative department of the State Ministry of Education to shut the school indefinitely.
It was learnt that the directive was in fulfillment of his earlier promise to wage war against sexual abuse and domestic violence in the state.
He was quoted as saying; “One of my cardinal programmes in the course of the campaign was that I was going to stand up for everyone and standing up for everyone is actually standing up for women and children.”
He lamented that the society has always been very uncharitable towards issues that relate to children and women, adding; “Lagos State in 2007, passed a law on domestic violence. ‘’But beyond that, the law cannot work by itself except we create the framework that enforces our laws, that is what we are standing for and in that respect, we talked about issues that relate to sexual and gender violence.”
When Vanguard visited the school, God Grace Global Group of School at Alagbelebu Street, Kudeyibu Estate, Ijegun, Lagos on Monday, September 14, 2015, there was no activity within the premises which used to be for religious gatherings too.
At the entrance of the school was a seal of the State Government which reads: “School closed indefinitely.”
Sources added that academic activities may never hold in the school again considering the gravity of the alleged offence committed by the proprietor.
Last week, while speaking on the need for adequate security in schools at a one-day workshop for Principals and Head-teachers in Education District VI, Oshodi, Director-General of the Office of Education Quality Assurance, OEQA, Mrs. Ronke Soyombo said that the state government will not shield any school that fail to provide adequate security for the pupils in its care.
Her words “Where children are not well catered for and safety is not adhered to, the state government may be forced to intervene. We have the monitoring and investigative department that ensures that if parents are not happy with some issues in the school, first they can complain to the management. And when the school management fails to act, they should endeavour to complain to the state government.”
She noted that the governor expect that all children would be protected irrespective of their school, adding that though there are few schools where children were being abused but the government has to take necessary action.
According to her; “The aim is to ensure that the future leaders of the state are well catered for and to restore education in the state back to where it was over three decades ago. We have often been the best and we can reach that height again if all standards are adhered to.”
Medical and police reports
Also recently, the Coordinator, Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, DSVRT, Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi in a statement, said; “In July alone, the team has attended to about 50 cases in the state.”
Of these cases, she said at least 30 of them are victims of domestic violence and over 20 cases were also monitored which include child abuse, defilement and rape with key evidential medical and police reports.
Vivour-Adeniyi however said this is excluding the total number of cases the Directorate of Public Prosecutions is prosecuting at the High Court.
On the effort by the state government, she stated that over 800 mandated reporters who are state government employees have been trained on how to detect signs of child abuse and steps to take in reporting such cases.
“Furthermore, over 2,000 school children have been empowered through our rape prevention workshops on how to avoid being a victim of sexual abuse, self defence and how to preserve evidence when physically or sexually assaulted”, she added.
The coordinator noted that the state has dedicated 112 toll free emergency lines to report cases of rape, defilement, domestic violence and others, adding that 190 officials of the State Emergency Command and Control centre on how to receive reports of sexual abuse and others.