By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
It was meant to be a normal Tuesday morning for the family of Vivian Vihimga Akpagher. Though they knew she was unwell, there was no premonition that their 14-year-old daughter, Keren-Happuch Akpagher was going to die on June 22, until the doctors at Queens Hospital located at Wuse Zone 4, Abuja, confirmed her gruesome death from rape and other related complications.
Sadly, ever since the family was told that a used condom and dead spermatozoa were discovered in their daughter’s private part and urine, respectively, which was supposedly left behind by the rapist, the elite boarding school in Nigeria’s capital city where the act of sexual violence was alleged to have been committed is unwilling to release the CCTV footage of events within the school on the day the poor teenager called her mother crying that she should be taken away from the boarding facility and brought home.
The deceased, fondly called Aondodoo, until her unfortunate death, was an SSS1 student of Premier Academy in Lugbe district of Abuja where she was adjudged by both teachers and fellow students to be godly, intelligent and a reserved girl.
For the Akpaghers, their hope of getting justice is dimming by the day because of what they describe as the “deliberate distortion of facts and publicity stunt” by the school which they accuse of carrying on academic activities as if nothing happened.
The victim’s mother, Mrs Vivian Akpagher, told Saturday Vanguard that the school is yet to show any remorse for failing in its responsibility to protect her daughter. She said while an investigation by the police is still ongoing, nothing concrete has been found.
According to her, the most painful aspect of the whole thing is that such could happen within the nation’s capital and the school is neither sanctioned nor compelled to release the CCTV video footage that would assist in unmasking Keren-Happuch’s alleged rapist.
Although the family claimed that their daughter was overdosed on dexamethasone (a steroid) given to her by the school’s medics which exacerbated her underlining illness (diabetes) before her death, they said the denial by the school authorities of any complicity in Keren-Happuch’s death has further deepened their grief.
Aondodoo’s disappointed mother said, “We are definitely seeing them (owners and of Premier Academy) to court for the negligence of duty which they owed my daughter to care for her and to ensure she was safe.
“Under their watch, Keren was raped and overdosed with dexamethasone that triggered complications that eventually contributed to her death on June 22, 2021.
“We are asking for N10bn damages against them for the breach of duty, and an additional N10m for emotional and mental stress of myself as well as an order of the court restraining the defendants from harassing my family and those standing by us.”
However, in what appears to be a war of attrition with Mrs Akpagher, the Acting Principal of the school, Mr Chris Akinsowon, told Saturday Vanguard that as an institution, the safety and security of the students are most paramount to them including their protection against sexual assaults of any type and kind in the school.
He said, “In the light of this incident, we have honoured the invitation from the Nigerian Police investigating the case surrounding her death, where we cooperated with them and stated our commitment in assisting them in their quest to unravel the controversies.
“Since the demise, the school has visited the family several times – 15 management officers on the day of her death. We also delivered a condolence letter on the second day.
“While we appreciate the sensitivity of the issues at the moment, we appeal for restraint on the part of the media sharing unconfirmed information that could jeopardise the case and cause further harm to the family of our dear student. It also jeopardises the effort of the law enforcement agencies towards solving the case.”
Meanwhile, a non-profit organisation, Men Against Rape Foundation, which is supporting Mrs Vivian Vihimga Akpagher in the case, has made a passionate appeal to the authorities to ensure justice is done by unravelling Aondodoo’s rapist to bring reprieve to the family and to serve as deterrence to such acts as well as build public trust.
The foundation believes the puzzle in the mysterious death of Keren-Happuch will be solved by only one piece of evidence that Premier Academy is accused of withholding.
“The CCTV footage (of events in the entire school days before the girl’s gruesome death), which we are also asking the Court for an order of mandamus to compel the school to produce, will answer the questions (left unanswered) and unmask the rapist,” Dr Lemmy Ughegbe, the Executive Director of Men Against Rape Foundation, said.
Nearly 10 months since the body of Keren-Happuch was committed to mother earth, police investigations have yielded little as the case is said to be moved from one office to another pending treatment.
In the meantime, friends and family of the deceased teenager are waiting patiently for the relevant authorities to release a comprehensive report revealing the true details of Aondodoo’s death and bring the perpetrator to justice.