Rape and sexual assault have long been difficult to investigate and prosecute in Nigeria for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is the less than subtle societal condemnation of the victims. The other is the shame and stigma which inevitably follows.
“What was she wearing”, “Why was she out at such a late hour?” are some of the questions the victim will have to deal with if he ever comes forward. Shaming the victim is such a large part of the problem.
The current allegation leveled against a Biology teacher at Queens College, Lagos, has once again brought to the fore the many problems the Nigerian society faces and it exposes fundamental weaknesses of accountability in our educational institutions.
While Mr. Seni Oshifala is innocent until he’s proven guilty, the scale of the allegations against him as well as the sensitive nature of educational institutions demand that the management of the Federal government run school should have responded to the allegation promptly as well as provisionally suspend Mr. Oshifala until investigations are concluded.
There are many curious issues arising from the response of the Queens College Management (We should probably be grateful that there was even a response in the first place). The Principal’s letter begins with an unequivocal declaration that Mr. Olaseni Oshifala has never been accused of sexual harassment or molestation.
“As I talk to you, no single parent has come to me or any of my Vice-Principals to report Olaseni as a molester. I assure you that if the allegation was true, other parents would have been buzzing our lines non-stop. Children spread gossip fast. ”
Two paragraphs later, the Principal then takes a turn when she admits that Mr. Oshifala had been previously accused of molesting students.
Her statement reads, “When I resumed work here, I was told a few unsavoury things about him. But investigations showed that each time a new principal resumed at Queens College, these allegations popped up. They would tell every new principal that Mr Olaseni is a molester. But after investigations, nothing concrete came up. My predecessor, whom we just sent forth today, told me the same thing. So it has been a recurring decimal, these allegations.”
It remains unknown why there seems to be so little concern on the part of the management for a man who has been serially accused of molesting students and instead allege that there is a ‘campaign of calumny‘ against Mr. Oshifala.
The personal nature of the Principal’s defense even though she recently just took up the position raises a few eyebrows and makes one wonder why a new Principal can vouch so staunchly for someone she hasn’t known for a long period.
Additionally, the Principal’s tone makes it obvious that any sort of investigation into the matter as promised by the Queens College management will be based on the premise of Mr. Oshifala’s innocence.
The Principal goes on to say in her statement, “I have quietly observed Olaseni over time. I have X-rayed his relationship with students and I have not found him wanting. The same students he has been accused of molesting, are the ones who voted him their best teacher.
The PTA Chairman is an external person, and she attests to the character of the accused teacher. It did not take long for me to see why the past principals recommended him.”
The investigative panel which will look into it have already concluded that Mr. Oshifala is innocent, pray, why bother with an investigation?