Ogba Margistrate Court
A teacher at a private secondary school in Ketu-Ikosi, Lagos State, Peter Jacob, is cooling his heels in prison for allegedly defiling a nine-year-old pupil, Hope (not real name).
Hope, who is suffering from dyslexia, was in the primary school section of the institution which also houses the secondary school where Jacob worked.
City Round learnt that Hope’s mother noticed sometime in November 2019 that her daughter urinated on the body.
She said she became disturbed when the girl repeated the act several times and she probed her.
The woman explained that she checked Hope’s private parts and observed that they had been tampered with. She said her daughter eventually opened up that Jacob molested her.
The woman stated that she took Hope to Mirabel Centre at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, where a medical test reportedly revealed that her hymen had been ruptured.
She reported the case to the police at the Isheri Police Station and Jacob was arrested on December 9, 2019.
She said, “My three children were in the school. The teacher was friendly with them and they sometimes went to his class to play. Around November, my daughter (Hope) started urinating on the body. On Wednesday, December 4 when the school car dropped them in my shop, she urinated on her body again.
“On December 6, I checked her private parts and discovered they were wider than usual. After questioning her, she opened up. She said Mr Peter (Jacob) usually took her to a classroom and dipped his fingers in her private parts. She said the teacher would ask her to lie down and he would ‘be entering (having sex with) her.’
“The school used a small car to carry pupils in batches. So, my children usually came home from school late. She said it was while they were waiting for the school car that the teacher molested her.”
The woman explained that Jacob denied committing the act, adding that the case was later transferred to the police gender unit in Ikeja.
She stated that she had to withdraw Hope and her two siblings, aged seven and four, from the school to avoid stigma.
“At the police station, I was asked to go out while they were interrogating the suspect. Afterwards, his pastor started begging on his behalf and promised to pay damages. I asked him what he meant by that.
“She’s nine years old. She was in Primary 5 but she is not catching up academically because she is suffering from dyslexia. She is now in Nursery 2 in her new school now. The teacher targeted my daughter because he thought she would not be able to reveal the crime,” the mother said.
She blamed the incident on the negligence of the school management, adding that the school had stopped reaching out to her.
“The school used to call me but they had stopped now. They did not show any concern again. I spent a lot of money to enroll my children in another school,” she added.
The Coordinator, Advocates for Child Rights and Vulnerable Persons Network of Nigeria, Mr Ebenezer Omojalile, said the group was following the case to ensure justice was served.
“What were the school security officials doing when the teacher took the child to the class and molested her? The school is culpable as well,” he noted.
But the school proprietress, Mrs Theresa Ebelebe, in an interview with our correspondent on Thursday, absolved the school of any wrongdoing.
She said the police, Lagos State Ministry of Education and other relevant agencies were involved in the matter and had visited the school for investigation.
She said, “We have been calling her (the victim’s mother) and her husband constantly. We visited her office regularly. We asked her to bring the children back to the school but she refused. We feel bad about what happened and we are in support of the child. We want justice to be done.
“We were trying to register the child for common entrance this year. We are for the child and her total wellbeing. How can we be negligent? The school has been operating since 1994 and we have never had such a case.
“We have a woman who takes care of the pupils after closing time. I can’t say the teacher actually did it. What we want is justice. The child’s mother even came with a DSS (Department of State Services) official and we talked. Thus school has produced professionals and we can’t allow the institution to be a source of abuse.”
Meanwhile, Jacob has been arraigned on one count of defilement at an Ogba Magistrates’ Court, Lagos. He was remanded in prison pending the outcome of legal advice on the case by the state’s Directorate of Public Prosecutions. The case was adjourned till February 27, 2020.