Saturday, 14 May 2016
Sexual Molestation: FG Panel Exonerates Queen’s College Teacher
THE Federal Government has exonerated the teacer, Mr. Olaseni Osifala, from allegation of sexual molestation of a junior secondary school II student of Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos.
Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwukah, briefed newsmen on Friday, in Abuja, on the outcome of the investigation panel into the allegation of sexual molestation and cover up by the management of the College.
He said the Investigation Committee did not establish any credible evidence against the accused teacher, considering the fact that Mrs. Chinenye Okoye remained unidentified, faceless and inaccessible despite the Committee’s best efforts and assurances to protect her identity and that of her daughter.
Consequently, the Investigation Committee finds it difficult to recommend disciplinary action against the accused teacher as the complainant failed to come forward to prove this weighty accusation.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government, on 22nd of March, 2016, set up a seven-Man Investigation Committee to look into the allegation of sexual molestation of a junior secondary school II student of Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos.
Anwukah, said this step became necessary following several reports from the conventional and social media networks, alleging that, a teacher of the College, Mr. Olaseni Osifala, had molested one Miss Okoye, a student of the College.
The allegation was supposedly made by the girl’s mother, one Mrs. Chinenye Okoye.
The Minister said when the panel was set up government deliberately kept the identity of the Committee members confidential, as a result of the sensitive nature of the assignment, as well as the need to avoid undue pressure and interference on the Committee members.
The committee which has the Director, Internal Audit, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. Paul Boyo as chairman, has Mrs. Olusola-Dada O.T., (Deputy Director Human Resources), Mrs. Itodo Elizabeth, (Deputy Director, Basic & Secondary Education), Mr. Amudipe Gabriel Olu, (Assistant Director, Education, Support Services), Mrs. Gbola Awopetu Yewande, (Assistant Legal Adviser), Mr. Allred Olufunwa, (Department of State Services), and Mrs. Olayiwola Suliat, (Assistant Director Basic and Secondary Education) as Secretary.
The Committee had the following terms of reference including ascertaining the veracity of the allegation and existence of any unprofessional behaviour on the part of the teacher.
They were also to determine if there were any male staff member living within the proximity of the hostel who could pose a threat to the students and to examine the remote and immediate causes of the students’ protest action that followed.
The panel was also mandated to recommend steps towards preventing sexual molestation of students in all Federal Government Colleges as well as recommend sanctions against anyone found culpable.
The Minister disclosed that in the course of its assignment, the Committee called for memoranda from the principal, the Queens College Old Girls Association, the Parents Teachers Association, the concerned mother (Mrs. Chinenye Okoye), Mr. Osifala (the accused teacher), teachers and members of staff of the college, Students’ Representative Council, the School-Based-Management Committee and the general public.
He added that the Committee also took oral evidence from relevant stakeholders.
He said: ” When we received the report of the Committee on Monday 25th April 2016, again we set up a 5-man Committee to study the report and prepare a draft White Paper.
“Members of this committee are: Mr. Lawrence Ogundana -Chairman, (Director, Library Services); Mrs. Justina Ngozi Ibe, member; (Director, Education Support Services) Mrs. Gbemi Ajibade, member; (Director Legal Services), Prof. Godswill Obioma-member; (Special Assistant (Technical) to the Honourable Minister of State for Education)
Mr. Adebayo Odejinmi – Member/Secretary; and (Deputy Director, Office of the Permanent Secretary).
“We are pleased to address this Press Conference today (Fruday), in order to share with you, as well as students, teachers, parents, relevant stakeholders and indeed the general public, the recommendations of the Investigation Committee, and Government’s position on all issues relating to the allegation.
“Summary of Recommendations of the Investigation Committee. The Investigation Committee did not establish any credible evidence against the accused teacher, considering the fact that Mrs. Chinenye Okoye remained unidentified, faceless and inaccessible despite the Committee’s best efforts and assurances to protect her identity and that of her daughter.
“Consequently, the Investigation Committee finds it difficult to recommend disciplinary action against the accused teacher as the complainant failed to come forward to prove this weighty accusation.
“From the various interactions held with the past Principals of the College and the current Management of the College, the Committee observed that the College had zero tolerance for such vices as sexual molestations, as prompt actions were always taken in the past cases of alleged inappropriate behaviour or sexual molestation by Staff.
“Therefore, the Committee could not establish any cover up of Sexual Molestation by the Management of Queens College as alleged in Mr. Osifala’s case.
“Furthermore, anyone with information that can lead to identifying the alleged victim or her mother or with any credible and substantiated evidence that was not earlier made available to the Investigation Committee during their sittings on the allegation against the teacher can still approach the Ministry accordingly.
“Government position: the Federal Ministry of Education notes and accepts all the recommendations of the Committee and will take actions as appropriate,” he stated.