CASER Press Release — The Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER) joins with many Nigerians and the entire civil society to condemn the rape and subsequent death of Karen-Happuch, a female boarding student of Premier Academy, Lugbe, Abuja.
The said Karen-Happuch was allegedly raped while she was in the custody of her School, Premier Academy, Lugbe, Abuja. Under the legal principles of in loco parentis and occupier’s liability, the school is expected to take full responsibility for what happened to the girl-child that was under its custody.
Sadly, the school has been engaged in prevarications and public relations stunts to the chagrin of many members of the Nigerian public.
There is an on-going criminal investigation that is supposed to focus on the management of the school with its staff on the circumstances under which the girl was raped and later died from complications resulting from the rape owing to the initial inactions of the school with its attempt to conceal the gravity of attack on the girl that was in its custody.
However, this appears not to be the case hence, a section of the Nigerian civil society has alleged possible compromise and professional incompetence on the part of the Federal Capital Territory Police Command and has therefore called on the Inspector General of Police to set up a high-powered investigative team to unmask the persons in the school who were responsible for the rape of the girl-child in the custody of the school and why the school concealed the rape and failed to immediately take appropriate actions to save the life of the girl.
Therefore, as an emergency preventive measure, CASER hereby calls on the Nigerian authorities, particularly the Federal Ministry of Education, the Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Honourable Attorney General of the
immediately apply the relevant provisions of the Child’s Rights Act and obtain an Order of Court to immediately shut down Premier Academy Lugbe for such acts of gross negligence causing the death of a female student in its custody.
The closure of the school should remain in place until the authorities are satisfied that the school has put policies and measure in place that will protect its students and prevent a reoccurrence of such grave sexual offences. This is considering that there have been reports of earlier events of rape and other sexual offences against children that have happened in that same school.
Thus, the closure of Premier Academy, Lugbe in the wake of the rape and death of one of its female student, owing to a manifest dereliction of the responsibility to protect the students by the school’s management, will not only to serve as a wake-up call to all other proprietors of schools who fail to realise the extent of their responsibility to protect and be accountable for the students under their care but will also emphasize the required high standards of child protection under the Nigerian educational system.
This therefore necessitates a serious response from the relevant Nigeria authorities that are responsible for the education and protection of children. Nothing short of setting up an independent panel of inquiry into the sad event will show the seriousness with which the Nigeria authorities treat this form of grave offence against a child which has become an utter national embarrassment.
Therefore, CASER calls on the relevant Nigerian authorities, especially the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Education to immediately set up an inter-agency panel of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of the female student, Karen- Happuch of Premier Academy that was raped in its custody.
This trend of rape and sexual molestation of girls in educational institutions in Nigeria, now including secondary schools is becoming rife because of societal and institutional silence which appears to have kept the scourge unaddressed with the required and expected tough stance of Government against rape and other sexual offences.
CASER is therefore closely watching the development on the response of Government and hopes that the authorities will take immediate action on demanded, including the immediate shut down of Premier Academy, Lugbe and the setting up of an independent, inter-agency panel of inquiry.
Meanwhile, where necessary, we at CASER will not hesitate to take out independent legal action by way of application for an Order of Mandamus to compel the relevant ministries or agencies of government to take proper action to hold the school accountable and put measures in place to prevent such reoccurrences of rape of minors who are in the custody of educational institutions.
Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER)
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