The authorities of Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja on Friday vehemently denied knowledge of any incident of rape involving any of its students.
The school also challenged members of the public with information linking any member of its teaching staff with any case of rape to come forward with their names and identities.
The acting Principal of the Academy, Chris Akinsowon, and the Matron of the School’s Clinic, Grace Alamin, told journalists during a media briefing at the school premises that the controversy about rape surrounding the unfortunate death of its former student, Keren-Happuch Akpagher, was strange to them.
Akpagher, 14-year-old senior secondary (SSS 1) student of the school died recently in circumstances described in sections of the media as suspicious.
However, the Acting Principal denied reports linking the sad loss of the student to alleged rape incident.
School in shock, pain
“As an institution whose objective is to make every child who passes through this high school to become an effective communicator, a critical thinker, an independent learner, an achiever, an ethical individual and a world-class citizen, and for the fact that the life of our dear student has been lost, we deemed it fit to provide clarity to a number of misinformation across the media space.
“We have zero tolerance for gender violence, child molestation or anything that can make the life of any average learner miserable.
“We are not aware of any incident of rape involving any of our students. The process for a post-mortem on the deceased is ongoing. When the report of the findings is out, the truth would be known.
“Again, none of our teachers was dismissed on account of any previous case of sexual harassment. Members of the public who have any information about the names of the alleged culprits should bring them to the attention of the school authorities.
“The family has lost a child. We have lost a student. The world has lost a soul. We are disturbed. This has never happened before. We are in shock and in pain because of the loss. All of us are in it together. All we need now is for all to cooperate and get to the bottom of this issue,” Akinsowon said.
The Matron of the School’s clinic who managed the late student till the few last days of her life recounted what she knew about the circumstances that may have resulted in her death.
Keren I knew
“Keren Akpagher was admitted into the school in 2019 in her junior secondary (JS2) class. She came in with a medical condition known as Type 1 diabetes melaitos.
“There is a medical form usually given to parents bringing in their children with such medical conditions, to enable the school have the medical baseline data of the student. This was filled and signed by the mother and her doctor.
“We were told she was diagnosed diabetic at the age of nine, and has been on insulin injection since then. She usually takes it twice daily, morning 7am and evening 7 pm at a certain dosage.
“She equally came into the school with a glucometer used to monitor her blood sugar reading.
“Initially, we were doing it on a daily basis as advised by her doctor. As her condition improved, we were doing it every other day. But, before the Saturday she left the school for home, we were doing it weekly as advised by her mother and doctor, since the blood sugar was under control then.
“We equally tried to manage her with diet too, because there are times when we see that the blood sugar was a bit raised, we had to get the school caterer to ask for special diet for her.
“We have been managing her with diabetic diets. At a point he was the only child eating different diet from other students. So, it became a source of concern. But because it was a medical issue, we did not allow other children know what she was passing through.
“What I usually do was to bring her to my office to come and eat the food there. She usually have diabetic snacks from the mother, like the other children given snacks and soft drinks once in a week. Because she was not able to take those snacks with other children, we allowed the mother to bring in sugar-free biscuits, peanuts and other things she could tolerate. So we kept in the clinic for her, especially after taking her insulin in the morning. She has to eat 30 minutes after. So, she always goes with the snacks before breakfast.
“We have been managing her, and not have cause to call the mother for any emergency. She has never gone into crisis in our hands. She has always been stable.
“The policy of the school on health concerning when to call parents is that if a child reports to the clinic with any complaint, if it is something that would require a medical investigation to be carried out, we will do it and commence the treatment of the child.
“If after 24 hours, there is no improvement, we will call the parents, or we take the child to our retainership hospital, which is the National Hospital.
Her last few days
“On June 17, a Thursday, she came in to the clinic around past 4pm to show me her left red eye. She asked me to look at it, that it seems her eye allergy has started again.
“I took a look at it and placed her on an eye drop. Normally I will wait for 24 hours while she was still under medication for me to know whether she was improving or not, according to the school policy on health I spoke about earlier.
“But by Friday morning, I got a call from the mother. She said her daughter called to inform her the eye allergy started again. I confirmed I saw her the previous day. I told her the medication I administered on the child. She said she has been having it off and on before.
“The mother said the last time she had it and took her to the hospital, the doctor said she would need eye glasses. But she said she did not know why the hospital was yet to call her to come and pick up the glasses.
“I asked her to go the hospital and get the glasses, which I know would not take more than one or two days to be ready. I told her to get in touch with her doctor and let us know if the glasses was ready for pick up, and also to confirm with her doctor if there was any other medication we could give her.
“Because of her condition, we don’t usually expose her to different medications like that. She said she would get back to me. But she never did that Friday. She called me on Saturday morning between 8 and 9 am and told me she spoke with the doctor who said they would not be able to attend to her by proxy, and that she would need to bring the child in.
“Before then, if a parent needs to pick up a child for any medical, the child was released to the parent. But, since the outbreak of COVID-19, the school came up with a new law, which all the parents are aware of.” “What we do these days is that a nurse takes the child from the school to the hospital the parent wants the child to visit. We will ask the parent to wait there, while we bring the child to hand over.
“The child sees the doctor, and the parent hands over the child back to the nurse to bring back to school. This is to curtail going back and forth, in and out of the school because of the health situation.” “There is also a policy that if a child has to go home, the school cannot say no completely, but when the parent has picked the child home, the school would not allow the child to come and start mixing with other students straight up, because of COVID-19.
“What we do is for the child to be isolated in the observation ward at the clinic for five days, after which a COVID-19 test would be run on the child before we allow the child to go to the class or hostel. These laws were communicated to the parents before they started.
“On that day, I told the mother if she would have to pick up the child home, she would be coming back to stay in observation place according to the school rules.
“Alternatively, I told her a nurse could take the child to the hospital. All what she should do is to just send the name of the school and wait for us in the hospital. She did by sending the name of hospital, Nisa Premier, Jabi
“On that Saturday morning, around 9 a.m, after I spoke with her, a vehicle was arranged. A school driver and nurse took the child to go and meet here at Nisa Premier. The child was handed over to her. She took the child to go and see ophthalmologist, and after the whole consultation and treatment, she was given three eye drops, and the child was returned to the nurse to bring back to school. “The nurse brought the child to school and the drugs were registered at the clinic. When they came back in the afternoon, the nurse told me the girl wanted to go with the mother right from the hospital. I did not see it as anything serious, because she had already seen her doctor and the mother handed her over to the nurse in good condition to be brought back to school.
“On my way back from school that day, as soon as I drove past the hostel, the girl ran to me and said she would want to go home, and asked whether her mother was coming to pick her. I asked her why would she want to go home shortly after returning from seeing an Opthalmologist that weekend.
“She said she just wanted to go home for the weekend. I told her it was not in my powers to release her to go home for the weekend, except it was for medical reasons. She left and ran into her hostel. I drove out of the school.
“By the time I got home, I got a text message and missed call from her mother. In the text message, she was pleading for her to come and pick the girl home. She said she would do the quarantine and pay for the COVID-19 test.
“Immediately, I placed a call across to her to find out what happened. She said that since the girl got to school, she has been disturbing her to come and carry her home. But she said she did not want to pick her up because examination was by the corner. She wanted her to stay in school and study. But, since she is still pressing her, she would just come in and pick her up for the weekend. And I told her, if that was the case, I need to speak with the acting principal, since this was not on a medical condition. I said I needed to seek for exeat for her. I called the Acting Principal and told him. He was surprised to hear that. He wondered what could have happened again to her having just visited her doctor. I told him it appeared her mind was bent on going home, and if she was not released to go, the weekend may not be enjoyable for her in the school, since the mother has agreed to stick by our rules.
“The girl was released to the mother that Saturday afternoon. Before leaving she had taken her morning dose of insulin as usual. I did not hear from them again. As a routine, if any of the children went home because of any health grounds, I usually called to find out the outcome of whatever visitation they went to carry out at the hospital. But I did not call the mother this time, because she did not go home on health grounds.
“On Monday, the mother called around past 8 am and said she thanked God she picked the girl home that Saturday, because she became delirious that morning. I was wondering what could have happened? The mother said she did not know what happened. I asked her about what she ate on Saturday and Sunday. Did she take her insulin injection on Saturday evening and Sunday? The mother said she did not know. I told the mother that I was not happy, because this was a girl the school had managed for several years. Why would she go into crisis for just two days she picked her home from school? She could not answer any of the questions.
Not only sugar level, but also
“So, I told them we would see them at the hospital. After about one hour, the mother called back and was shouting on the phone. She said I needed to come to the hospital with the Acting Principal. I asked her to calm down and say what happened. She said her daughter was traumatized in the school. I told her I did not understand what she was talking about. Having called a while earlier to say the doctor told her the girl’s sugar level rose to over 400, what has suddenly brought in trauma in the discussion?
“She said it was not only sugar level, but she was also traumatized. She said I needed to come to the hospital to see her.
I went in search of the Acting Principal. He was not in school, because SS3 students were writing JAMB that day. He had gone out to the centres. I called him on the phone, and he delegated a senior staff to follow me to the hospital.
The mother sent the address of the hospital – Queens Clinic in Zone 6, Abuja. We went to the hospital.
“In the hospital, the girl was totally in coma. I was shocked. And I asked the mother, when she called me, she said the girl was just delirious, why is she in coma now? She said she was struggling and the doctor sedated her.
“Her hands and legs were tied to the bed. Of course, medically they can do that to restrain, if she was struggling. When I saw it, I knew that she must have been struggling for them to have done that. But saying the doctor sedated her, I was not comfortable with that management, and I said so.
“Immediately, I asked her how well she knew the hospital, because I don’t know why the doctor should have sedated the girl. She said they are very good. She has been using them for a long time. That they even have a branch in Makurdi that she has been using for years. And I asked the mother: Don’t you think we should move the girl out of this hospital? She said no. They are good. She said she was okay with them.
Decayed condom in private part
“The mother now told me that when the girl was unconscious, they had to pass sketater to pass urine for her so that she would not mess herself up. She said in the process they discovered some things in her private part. They started bringing the things out. They thought it was candider. Anyone familiar with diabetic patients, especially the women, know they are prone to having vaginal infection, which the girl was always having off and on.
She said along the line, the doctor brought some things he said did not look like candider. The mother said he said they should go and test it. After testing, the mother said they came back to tell her the thing was a decayed condom, and that her urine equally contained spermatozoa (sperm cells).
“I could not marry those two statements. If she said the doctor removed a decayed condom from her private part, they should not see anything like sperm inside there.
“In the first place, condom is a latex. It’s not even supposed to decay. So if it stayed in a place for years and decayed, we should not see sperm inside there again.
But, the mother was tensed. I did not want to start disturbing her any further with questions.
“I asked to see the doctor, so that I could see those things they said were removed from the girl’s private part, and the doctor would explain further to me. But she told me they said the doctors was not on seat. That the doctor has already closed then.
“We got to the hospital between 4.30 and 5pm and left around 7pm that night. So, I couldn’t see the doctor and all the items they said they removed from the girl.
“I told her I would return to the hospital the following morning so that I could speak with the doctor and see the girl’s progress. I left.
“It was around 5 am that I received a call that the girl passed on.
When I was in the hospital I still told the mother, there was no infection that would raise the blood sugar to that level within those few days.
I told her the girl was in school with us all this while. Infection does not just start. It has signs that should manifest first. The girl never complained of high body temperature, headache, nothing, apart from the redness of the eyes she complained of on Thursday and was taken to the hospital on Saturday. The mother saw her that Saturday.
“For the mother to have agreed to hand her back to the nurse to bring her back to school meant she was in a stable condition. And when the mother picked the girl from the school, she did not take her to the hospital. She took her home.
“When I went to their home that Tuesday we lost the girl, the mother told me the girl came in on Saturday, ate, took some fruits, and went to bed. And I asked her, did she take her evening dose of insulin for that day? She could not answer that question. I asked her what happened on Sunday. She said the girl woke up happily and even cooked for her younger brother on that Sunday. Nothing happened to her. That it was around 4 am on Monday morning when asked her to get her water to drink.
“After drinking the water, the mother said she started talking irrationally. She said when she became irrational, the mother said she observed her for one hour before taking her to the hospital.
“On arrival at the hospital, the mother said they checked her blood sugar, and it was over 400. I told the mother that the last fasting blood sugar we did for her in school on Thursday was 114, and she agreed that the girl told her when she got home on Saturday.
“The blood sugar is usually recorded in her own handwriting in a small jotter she has. So, whatever happened between that Saturday night and Sunday night is what is not known to the school why her sugar level went up to over 400 that Monday morning.
“We cannot account for what happened to her during that period. But the issue of condom, I am not aware. I did not see the condom, neither did I see any of those items they said they removed from her.
“She has never complained of anything to me in the clinic. If there was anything like trauma, she could have opened up to me, because of the close relationship she had with us at the clinic as a result of her condition.
“She usually tells me things. There was a time she was tired with injecting herself insulin twice daily. That day, she said she did not know why I was forcing her to take the injection. The problem, she said, was not medical. But spiritual. She said they sent the sickness to her from her father’s side in the village. She said we were wasting time forcing her to take the injection. I sat her down and we spoke at length. I tried to convince her it was sickness that has come and would go if managed well. She was that close to me.
“I don’t think if there was anything like trauma she would not be able to open up to me if at all anything like that happened. The only thing she complained about before this incident was catarr, which should be few weeks before that red eye issue. She’s not the kind of child that easily falls sick. Once her blood sugar was maintained, she did not give complaints. That was what I knew about her case.”