In what appears to be a strategy to force a media blackout on reports concerning the rape and eventual death of a -14 year old boarding student of Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja, Miss Keren-Happuch Aondodoo Akphagher, the school has threatened to sue the African Independent Television for giving publicity to her mother, Mrs Vivien Vihimga Akphagher.
Keren-Happuch died on the 22nd of June 2021 after developing sepsis as a result of the infection caused by the condom left inside her by her rapist, which compromised her immunity, spiked her blood sugar resulting to hyperglycaemia.
Following Keren-Happuch’s death, Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja has been the subject of an on-going investigation as her mother, Mrs. Akpagher had immediately filed a formal complaint against the school, alleging that her daughter had been sexually abused at the school, which led to her death.
Last year, leader of the Coalition of Gender Based Violence Responders, Lemmy Ughegbe had accused Premiere Academy had accused Premiere Academy of trying to intimidate into silence by filing a N500 million defamation suit against him at an Abuja High Court for delivering a rousing speech at the law week of the Nigeria Bar Association, Abuja Branch.
The school was miffed by the fact that Ughegbe called on the lawyer’s not to remain mere bystanders, but to join the Coalition and Keren’s family in seeking justice for Keren.
In what seem to be a strategy, the school has now issued a – two day ultimatum to the management of AIT to apologize for reporting the civil action filed by Mrs Vivien Vihimga Akphagher, wherein she sued it (Premiere Academy) for N10 Billion for negligence and failure of the duty of care to her daughter, which led to her being raped in the boarding school facility, where she was resident.
In a letter from the chambers of Chief Adegboyega Solomon Awomolo (SAN) dated March 22, 2021, they demanded that AIT within 48 hours pulls down the said report from all their social media handles, apologize for the said report, undertake not to publish such report about the Keren-Happuch Case in future and pay N1 Billion to it as damages for the said report, which they term defamatory and libelous.
As at the time of filing that report, it is unclear whether or not AIT will be intimidated into silence and a black-out of reports concerning Keren-Happuch Aondodoo Akphagher even though the station has a reputation for enthroning soci.justice.
When contacted for comment on the threatened legal action against AIT, the Coalition leader and renowned Child and Gender Rights Advocate, Lemmy Ughegbe said it was a cheap tactics aimed at silencing the media, expressing the confidence that AIT will not succumb to their cheap bullying.
“I am not surprised at the underwhelming tactics by the school. They have sought to intimidate and bully me and the mother of the late child into silence by using various means. They even sued me for speaking at the Law Week and asking Nigerian lawyers to join me in seeking justice for Keren-Happuch. Their tactics is to intimidate and feed the public with falsehood. If they couldn’t intimidate me an ordinary individual into silence, is it television giant with a reputation for pursuing the good of society through the seeking of truth and justice that they will intimidate into silence?”
“Remember we have been asking them for CCTV footages of 15th and 16th of June 2021? Those footàges will expose what happened to Keren-Happuch in their school, where they have 54 CCTV cameras. We are asking these questions and because they don’t want the Nigerian press to expose this, they are seeking to bully them especially AIT into silence. It will not work”, Ughegbe added.
Amnesty International on last week called on the House of Representatives to immediately commence investigative public hearing into the rape and death of Keren-Happuch in compliance with their resolution of December 7, 2021 to do so
It will be recalled that in the suit filed by Mrs Akpagher, which reportage by AIT is the cause of the threatened legal action by Premiere Academy, she had sued the school as a corporate entity and its owners, including former Managing Director of Skye Bank, Mr. Akinsola Akifemiwa before an Abuja High Court, demanding for over ten billion naira.
.Speaking at a press conference organised in Abuja, Mrs Akpagher said she brought the suit against Premiere Academy Ltd, Dr. Omotayo Akinfemiwa, Chief M.K Osuma, AAGMR Ltd (represented by Akinsola Akinfemiwa), Premiere Eye Center Ltd ( represented by Akinsola Akinfemiwa), Mr. Christopher Akinsowon, Mrs Grace Salami and Nurse Lois Bung as 1st to 8th Defendants.
She said all she expects is a school that is apologetic and takes responsibility for the rape and death of her child, stating that if they were honourable enough to do so, she would drop the matter.
“But the way they are going, if they are not ready to take responsibility, we shall see this case to the end, so that it doesn’t happen to another child, she stated.
In the instant suit, she has also prayed the court for “an order restraining the defendants by themselves, their agents and privies from threatening the Plaintiff and her allies in respect of this suit, during and after the trial.”
The Plaintiff is praying the court for the following reliefs:
· A declaration that the negligence of the Defendants caused the Plaintiff’s daughter’s Keren –Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher death on the 22nd day of June 2021.
· A declaration that the acts of the defendants, who owed the Duty of Care to Plaintiff’s daughter, were negligent and this led to her death as a result of rape, sexual abuse and molestation which happened under their care.
· A declaration that the acts of the defendants who instructed the 8th defendant to administer dexamethasone (a steroid) on Keren –Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher exacerbated her underlining illness: “diabetes” and this led to her death.
· A declaration that the defendants’ failure to apprehend the perpetrator or allow the due process of the law to be carried out on time in other to fish out the perpetrator who is within their vicinity have intentionally inflicted the plaintiff with emotional distress, mental distress and nervous breakdown.
She therefore prays the court to award to her:
· The sum of Ten Billion Naira damages against the defendants for the breach of duty of care and negligence which led to the death of Keren –Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher.
· Ten Million Naira for emotional, mental, psychological and physical stress on the plaintiff, caused by the painful death of her daughter at the hands of the defendants who owed her duty of care.
Ten million naira representing cost of Litigation.
In support of the reliefs sought by the plaintiff are a -61 paragraph statement of claims, wherein Mrs Akpagher painted a graphic picture of how she got a tip off from Keren’s House mother, Mrs. Rita Abejide to resist attempts by the matron not to allow her take her daughter away from the school, disclosing that the child was distraught and unable to walk on the 16th of June 2021 as she was in pain and had to be assisted to go to class.
She said despite her demand that the police retrieve CCTV footages of 15th and 16th of June 2021, which she knows discloses how her daughter was sexually abused and the identity of her abuser, the defendants have chosen to obstruct justice by concealing the said footages.
She explained how Keren eventually became critically ill the following day after returning home and she was rushed to the hospital on Monday, 21st of June 2021 in a bad state and that was when it was discovered by the medical team at Queen’s Clinic that her daughter had been sexually abused.
The plaintiff will rely on the test results, and the hospital reports and records of Queens Clinic, Wuse Abuja, which prove that condom was left inside of her late daughter and her urine contained dead spermatozoa.
The plaintiff states that “following the test results, she called the school management that is the 6th and 7th defendants at about 1pm on the 21/06/21 to come to the hospital, but never disclosed the findings. But before the management came, the plaintiff called a teacher in the 1st defendant, Mr. Chukwuka Okafor, whom she had never told what the hospital revealed and during their discussion, he prayed her daughter gets better and come back to school to which the plaintiff said she won’t be coming back and he said “don’t worry madam we will get to the bottom of it so that it does not happen to another child.”
The plaintiff states that her daughter died early hours of Tuesday 22/6/2021 from hyperglycemia triggered by sepsis resulting from the infection caused by the condom, which was left inside her and aided by the dexamethasone that was administered to her in the school clinic by her nurse Lois Bung which compromised her immunity. The plaintiff will rely on all the medical documents given to her by Queens Clinic Abuja in the course of trial.
The plaintiff states Lois Bung wrote a statement at the police stating that she had given Keren-Happuch 5 tablets of Dexamethasone (steroid) and 1 tablet of Loratadine (anti-allergy). These drugs given to her were not part of her routine drugs, and the defendants were negligent in not seeking her consent before administering such drugs to her daughter and never also deemed it fit to inform her that such drugs was administered to enable her take precaution and also inform the family doctor.
We give the the FCT Police Command Gender Department incharge of this matter the notice to produce the Statement of Lois Bung admitting that she administered the said drug to Keren-Happuch Akpagher.
The plaintiff states that the defendants ordered that dexamethasone be given to her daughter for sinister reasons because her daughter complaining of redness of the eye didn’t warrant such strong steroids like dexamethasone. The defendants knew that such medication would increase her daughter’s blood sugar levels and weaken her immunity which could lead to hyperglycemia. The defendants never gave her the medical records of her daughter even till date.
The plaintiff states that the condom and dead spermatozoa found in her daughter has no other indication except, rape, sexual molestation and sexual abuse of her daughter. This in combination with the high sugar and sepsis which led to her daughter’s death.
The plaintiff states that the failure of the defendants to seek consent from her who knows her daughter very well points to lack of respect and understanding of the child’s rights and of her’s as her mother.
The plaintiff states that she also handed over a transcription as well as a voice recording of her conversation with the Matron, Mrs. Grace Salami and the Head of Pastoral, Mr. Olusegun Adesanmi when they visited in the hospital on the 21st June, 2021.
The plaintiff states that the Command has not at any time intimated them of the progress of the investigation. The FCT Police command denied them of copies of the medical and autopsy reports but has released same to the school which they stated in some of their interviews in some newspapers including Eagleonline Publication of 13/09/21 and Punch Newspapers of 14/09/21. The plaintiff will rely on the said publication in the course of trial.
The plaintiff states that the acting principal of the school the 6th defendant stated in Thisday Newspaper of 9th of August 2021 that “if we had known there was a condom inside her, we would have removed it.” The plaintiff showed this piece of publication to the police, but they failed to act on it.
The plaintiff states that the FCT Command called her to the station to ask if the report they got from the school that my son told his friend who told his father I wasn’t taking good care of them was true. The police at the FCT Command also summoned the plaintiff to tell her that the school had asked them to get her daughter’s jotter, phone and bible from her because they think she might have written something in it – which she refused to submit.
The plaintiff states that because of the circumstances ad clinical evidences surrounding her daughter’s death she is convinced that all the defendants were aware, connived , concealed, aided in putting her daughter in the hands of men who sexually molest children on the premises of the 1st defendant.
The plaintiff states that her daughter has been in the 1st Defendant’s (the school) for over 3 years and has religiously been taking her injections without any problem. She has never been admitted in the hospital for one day and it is obvious its because of what the clinical test revealed and found in her as a result of sexual abuse and rape which happened under the supervision and care of the Defendants that led to her death.
The plaintiff states that the dead spermatozoa found in her daughter’s urine and the foreign body which she believes to be condom was inside her daughter prior to the 19th day of June 2021 when she picked her up from school. The plaintiff concludes that her daughter was going through trauma before and after she picked her up from the school on the 19th day of June 2021.
The plaintiff states that the dead spermatozoa belongs to a male who lives and/or works in the premises of the 1st to the 6th defendants. The dead spermatozoa means that her daufghter was raped and sexually abused prior to her coming home on the 19th of June 2021. The plaintiff will prove this in the course of trial through the witness of expert medical doctors.
The plaintiff states that at her sober moment she recalls the events that transpired within the four days her daughter fell sick that led to her death, why her daughter cried and begged to be taken home, was extremely sad the day the matron refused her leaving with her, and now understand why the school authorities prevented her from accessing her daughter earlier than when she finally did was all to cover up the trauma her daughter was going through in the hands of her abusers and molesters in the 1st defendant premises.
The plaintiff states that she has raised alarm on all quarters concerning the grave danger children are going through at the 1st defendant and some Civil Society Organisations have joined her to call for thorough investigation into the activities of the school that led to her daughter’s death.
The plaintiff states that within the past months after her daughter’s death some parents and students reached out to her confessing that some of their children were also sexually molested, abused and sodomized by male teachers of the 1st defendant. We will rely on the voice notes of one of the former student of Premiere Academy testifying to how she was sexually abused as a 13-year-old in the school and declaring that there were a number of men who molest children in the school. This voice note was given to the police, but they failed to act on it.
The plaintiff states that a letter of indefinite suspension issued to a former PHE teacher Mr. Onitilo K.K for sexually molesting a student who was never handed over to the police but released into the society by the defendants will be relied on in the course of trial.
The Plaintiff states that the defendants owed her daughter the duty of care and protection of which they failed woefully which eventually caused the death of her daughter. The defendants were negligent and breached that duty by failing to meet with their obligations, which has put her daughter in harm’s way.
The plaintiff states that her daughter was only 14 years old, a child, a minor whose care and protection was solely the responsibilities of the defendants because she was in the boarding facilities of the Defendants where she was raped, molested on several occasions which led to her death.
The plaintiff states that the person who molested, abused, raped and killed her daughter is well known to the defendants but they have decided to shield the person for reasons best known to them and for reasons they are all benefiting from.
The plaintiff states that she has asked the police to request from the defendants the CCTV footages of 15th and 16th June 2021 because she knows the said footages will reveal the identity of those who raped her daughter. The defendants have a huge secret to hide and that is why they refused to release the said footages.
The plaintiff states that the 7th defendant admitted that her daughter never came for her tests/injections on the 16th day of June 2021, the same day she was reported as not being able to walk to school without assistance for her test.
The plaintiff states that if the defendants were not benefitting from it they have no reason not to fish out the perpetrator and punish accordingly. They have obstructed investigation, connived with the law enforcement authorities to cover up the case.
The plaintiffs states that the defendants are using the police to harass and intimidate her and the civil society coalition spokes person Lemmy Ugegbe who has been on the front burner of this tragedy to make the police and the defendants to do the right thing by taking responsibility and bringing the pepertrators to book.
The plaintiff states that the school has written a petition against Mr. Lemmy Ughegbe and herself to the Inspector- General of Police citing Defamation and Provocation of Premiere Academy the defendants. They have been invited by the police on several occasions to intimidate them from putting media pressure to make the defendants to do the right thing. On the 16th day of February 2022, the police invitated Mr. Lemmy Ughebe again on the account of the defendants in other to shut him up , pressing thrumped up charges against him and the whole idea is to let backdown in supporting justice of this case.
The plaintiff states that she has written to the National Assembly for justie to be done and Hon. Mark Gbillah raised a motion (on Keren’s death) which was passed on the floor of the house on 7/12/21. The house has also resolved to constitute a panel that will address the issue via a public hearing when they resume in 2022. They have also directed that the IG should direct a DNA profiling of all the male staff that had worked in the school around the time of the incidence to match against the DNA that would be established from the foreign body taken out of her daughter.
The plaintiff states that they are afraid that they will continue to be intimidated even after this case as the defendants are influential and can use the police in their favour.