By Funmi Ajumobi
A teacher made headlines, last week, when he was accused of molesting a JSS 2 girl in boarding house. The presumed mother of the girl, who simply identified herself as Chinyere, narrated her story in the social media. The Management of Queen’s School dismissed the allegation, while also exonerating the teacher. The presumed mother said: “I would like to report the Management of Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos. As I write, the Principal and Vice Principals have, over a month now, deliberately suppressed several complaints of sexual harassment which my daughter and some other students have consistently reported to their class teacher, their Year Head, the Head of Department of the accused teacher and the Principal’s Office.
“My daughter is in JSS 2, second term at Queen’s College. During their visiting day in first term, she complained to me that there is an integrated science teacher, Mr Oshifala, who has been harassing her and some other students. I asked her if the man had touched her and she said no, he only tells them that they are looking beautiful and he wants to marry them. I dismissed her complaint as typical compliments from a teacher.
“However, two weeks later, on Thursday, she called me late at night and she was crying bitterly. I could barely hear what she was saying until after I had calmed her down. I myself was scared, wondering what had happened. She told me then that this same Mr Oshifala, who, by the way, lives in the boarding house area, had cornered her on her way back from easing herself just before lights out. She told me that he called her and she thought he wanted to punish her for leaving her dorm room when it was almost lights out. But when she got closer to him, he was smelling of alcohol and she ran away from him. But he ran after her and grabbed her and tried to kiss her while touching her private part. She started screaming and then students started coming out; so he left her and pretended to punish her. But the students already know his ways, so they started booing him until the house mistress came out and chased them inside, telling them to be quiet and that nothing was actually going on. I told my daughter to calm down and prayed with her and I told her not to leave her dorm room unless with another student.
“I got to the school first thing the next day and spoke with the house mistress who confirmed to me that the story was true. but she warned me that Mr Oshifala is a favourite of the Vice Principal, Mrs Kayode. I spoke to a couple of other teachers and they all confirmed this story and Mr Oshifala’s tendencies. The teachers also mentioned that he had been reported before at the Abuja Headquarters for sexual harassment and he was almost sacked until he begged this same Vice Principal who quashed the complaints.
“I went to the Vice Principal myself and complained to her about my daughter’s issue. Mrs Kayode and another Vice Principal, Mrs Njoku, were both in the room when I entered. From the looks on their faces, I knew my daughter was telling the truth. Mrs Njoku soon left and it was just me and Mrs Kayode. She then told me (and these are her words) that even though my daughter was telling the truth, Oshifala is her man and he does a lot of work for her and there is nothing me or anyone can do to move him out of the school. She also turned around to threaten me that if I liked, I could go to Abuja to report, nothing would happen. And that I should not forget that this is a government school; so, instead of her or Mr Oshifala being sacked, my daughter would be dismissed. As I type this, I have already found another school for my daughter. She has left the boarding house and, once their exams are over, she would leave Queen’s College. She told me that this Mr Oshifala sees her every time she has class in the labs but she never goes there alone, only when her friends are with her. She says he always tells her that her mother tried to report him, but in the end she is the one who would leave the school while he would remain.
“These people wanted to traumatize my daughter!! They know this man is a child molester and yet they keep him not only in the school but also in the boarding house area where these young girls live. He is free to roam about at night drunk as a skunk and no one does anything because of his connections.
“Even worse, they now have young men as security guards who, some parents have even complained at the last PTA meeting are already harassing their daughters.
I beg you to please expose these people. They think they are bigger than just one parent, but I know one day their time will come.
Please feel free to contact me if you need any more details. I hope their evil deeds come to light and they get the punishment they deserve”.
Meanwhile, Queen’s School Management refuted the allegation that a parent showed up to report such a case. The number the presumed parent, Chinyere, left was called in the presence of journalists, at a briefing, but a lady, who identified herself as Tope, picked the call, and said she did not know anything about the Queen’s College case and she did not report anything.
It was also clear that Mr Oshifala lives in Ogba, Agege area of Lagos and not in the school compound contrary to the claim that he lives in school area of Lagos teaches the senior class biology and not junior class.
Trying to rationalise the story, a top staff member of the school told Sunday Vanguard the issue of child molestation has always been raised anytime a new Principal assumes office in Queen’s College. According to her, 12 years ago, a woman in Oshifala’s dept, who was the Chairman of a staff organisation in the school, had issue with him when she wanted Oshifala to cover her up after embezzling money but he refused. The woman was said to have promised to destroy him for not cooperating with her and exposing the secret between the duo.
The woman then allegedly instigated two students to report to the Management that Mr Oshifala was sexually molesting them. The case went viral. But the girls were thoroughly interrogated, during which they opened up that it was the woman who told them to lie against the teacher.
The top staff member said she was convinced that someone was bent on destroying Oshifala.
It was learnt that Oshifala is a senior staff member on level 14 and a young teacher who is loved not only by students but also by the junior staff. He is said to be the Chairman of the Co-operative Staff Union and popularly called Obama of Queen’s College. Anytime there is teachers award or other awards, students and staff vote for him, but to some staff, its like questioning him if he is the only teacher in Queen’s College.
Investigation is on-going into the sexual harassment issue as the Federal Ministry of Education has summoned the Principal of the school to Abuja, while the Old Girls of Queen’s College too have opened a forum for report on abuse of students. NGOs are also investigating.