By HENRY OKONKWO, and GABRIEL DIKE
ACCUSATIONS and counter-accusations have continued to trail the case of alleged sexual molestation of students by a teacher, Mr. Olaseni Osifala at Queens College, Yaba, Lagos. Meanwhile, investigations by stakeholders in the school have begun to unravel the rot in the popular 89-year-old high college.
Investigators from federal and state agencies have been urged to also probe the school’s Principal, Mrs Lami Amodu, and her Vice, Mrs Kayode. The school authorities have been fingered as culpable in the sexual offence allegedly involving Osifala.
The call came against the backdrop of the school’s swift defence and exoneration of the teacher who was accused of being a paedophile. The school authorities were also accused by various independent investigation bodies, to have turned a blind eye to the allegations levelled against Osifala in the past.
The Queens College Old girls Association (QCOGA) in its fact-finding report, revealed that the accused teacher has been involved in cases of alleged sexual harassment of pupils of the school for years unabated because the school authorities had allegedly shielded him always. Speaking to Saturday Sun, the QCOGA Fact Finding Committee chairperson, Mrs Laila St. Matthew-Daniel said that they have concluded their investigations and submitted their petition to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police. “I would not want to speak further beyond our findings. We made our finding available to the public. So, we urge everyone to be calm as we await the outcome of police investigation into the matter.”
Findings by QCOGA revealed that allegations against Osifala and his male colleagues have been on since 2005 and “were consistently reported to the current principal, his vice, former principala and vice principals, yet, no steps were taken to stop the dastardly acts.” As a result, the old students resolved to recommend a probe of the school authorities.
Corroborating the accusation of non-chalance by the authorities, some of the former students alleged that they were also victims of Mr. Osifala’s alleged sexual harrassment of students. The ex-students went on social media to recall how they were sexually preyed upon by the teacher some years back. One of them that gave her name as Jaqacline Ibeh, alleged that the accused, molested her and other girls, but when they reported to the matter to the authorities, they were snubbed. “Olaseni molested me way back as a student, and some other girls too. When I reported, they rebuffed me. No one ever believed us.” She further expressed her readiness to testify before any panel once she is guaranteed her safety and that of her children.
Another victim, Olaoluwa Abagun also tell her stories of Osifala’s lewdness and inappropriate behaviour way back when she was in QC. She alleged that Osifala gave them money and food so he could caress their breasts and buttocks.
One of the independent investigators that probed Osifala’s alleged sexcapades told Saturday Sun that some of the victims alleged that the accused always complimented them that they were beautiful and that he would love to marry them. “The allegations are weighty because our investigations reveal he has been molesting children individually telling them they are very beautiful and that he would love to marry them”.
Even in the face of the weighty allegations, the accused is pleading his innocence, adding that he is being targeted by individuals who are envious of his achievements in the school.
Meanwhile, activist and lawyer, Evans Ufeli has assured that Mr. Osifala would be broken soon after he’s crossed examined.
“I have carried out my investigations and I found some traces of truths in the allegation,” he told Saturday Sun. “Many of the past students have gone on various platforms to report how this teacher sexually molested them some years ago. And usually, in criminal matters such as this, you find the suspect denying but when they are cross-examined, enough evidence would be extracted from them.”
Barrister Ufeli, who was behind the sex molestation reports going viral on social media hinted that the incident, is a metaphor of what transpires in many schools. He also condemned the protest of QC students, saying the school authorities should be queried over it. “It’s obvious that these students were brainwashed to protest. They should be studying for their mock exams. They’ve used the students to make the suspect escape justice.”
…A chat with QC students
By Itoro Godwin
The environment in Queen’s college on Thursday was peaceful and calm but one’s curiousity would be aroused noticing a police armoured vehicle and fierce looking policemen who asked any visitor, visiting the school for the first time, what business they came for in the premises.
Walking into the school premises, you are welcome by security men in blue uniforms at the gate. At the entrance is a hall where visitors stay to wait for their ward and the names of 50 resident staff pasted on the notice board.
When this reporter visited the school by 9:30am, the students were seen loitering around with their bags while senior students will send the younger ones to carry their luggage for them while others were busy in groups discussing and also waiting for their parents to come and pick them after a Parents Teachers Association (PTA) meeting.
This reporter was stopped at the gate by policemen but claimed that she came to see her younger ones and also pretended to use the girls hostel toilet. Immediately she was given access to the hostel which is a five minute walk from the gate with a black fence. There Junior and senior students live together . It was however noticed that JSS 1 and JSS2 students have a different hostel while JSS3 and SS1-3 students share same rooms. When the reporter went to SSS 2 class, she was informed by the students that the class has ten arms; SS2 Q-SS2 Z. When asked about the incident if they know anybody with the surname, Okoye they called Sylvia Okoye who said she was not the victim of the controversial sexual assault adding that there are other Okoyes too in SS2.
According to Joy Saviour, a fair complexioned young lady in SS2 said that “Mr Osifala is our Biology teacher and a nice person to us. Besides, he does not even live in the school premises but lives outside the school premises. So I don’t want to believe that he could do something of that nature.”
Seyi Timothy in SS2 also said that “ I think it’s a scam to blackmail our teacher, he teaches Biology very well and is a jovial person, maybe the girl in question is not from our school.”
Toyin Lawal in SS 2Q said “though am not too close to him, he will just come and teache us biology and that is all. He is friendly to us but for me I don’t like coming close to male teachers like my friends do. So I can’t tell”
Another SS2 student who pleaded anonymity when asked how often they put on the school generator and light, she said there is usually light in the school from morning till 10pm. “Once it’s 10pm the light goes off till 5 in the morning. We use our torchlight and once it’s 10pm, nobody goes out of the junior hostel but in senior hostel, it is an open space, only the main entranced is locked”, she stated.