The secondary school at the centre of controversy over the death of Keren Akpagher, Premiere Academy Lugbe, Abuja, has pushed back on allegations of sexual harassment leading to the death of the 14-year-old SS1 student.
Acting Principal of the school, Mr Chris Akinsowon, in a statement, said the school has zero tolerance for sexual harassment of any kind, whether verbal or physical, as well as in-campus misconduct.
Akinsowon vowed that “in the unlikely event that any form of sexual assault happened to Miss Keren Akpagher in the school, leading to her death, the School Board and Management will join hands with all relevant security agencies to prosecute such a person in line with the laws of the land.”
The acting principal, who provided further clarifications on the alleged assault of the deceased student, however, maintained that Keren’s autopsy result was not yet out, stressing that it is part of the investigation the school insists must be allowed to take its course and earnestly awaits the result.
“The autopsy result is not out yet. It is a part of the investigation process the school insists must be allowed to take its course. We earnestly await the result and plead that nothing should be said to pre-empt whatever the outcome might be,” he said.
On the alleged staff of the school that was sent on indefinite suspension and dismissal, he noted that the dismissal of the staff was “based on careless talk with a student; that’s part of our commitment in making the school safe for our students and earn the confidence of our parents.”
He described reports that their students have sworn to an ‘oath of secrecy’ as very disturbing, stating that “how can secondary students take an ‘oath of secrecy; this is nothing but blackmail and an attempt to divert the minds of the public from the truth.”
He assured the general public that “as a school established to train future leaders, we will never give in to spineless, chinless and directionless individuals who are all out to cause people to have a negative opinion of the school.
Speaking further on Keren’s demise, he said upon her “admission to the Queen’s Hospital, Wuse Zone 11, Abuja on Monday, 21st June 2021, the school’s representatives went there to visit her and her mother.
“We reached out to the family on the very Tuesday, 22nd of June, when we were informed of her demise at the hospital, all activities for that day in the school were shut down. The Management staff and some members of staff went to commiserate with her.
“The following day, 23rd June, the visit was repeated with a Board member and some staff to deliver a condolence letter, even though she was not in, we delivered it. On the 24th June, 4 members of staff went again, but they were denied entry right from the gate of the Estate. The PTA Executives of the school went on the same day and were equally prevented from entering from the gate of the Estate.
“Keren’s mother denied granting any interviews, yet media houses, publications, social media and bloggers have been quoting her. A valedictory Service was conducted in memory of Keren Akpagher in the Academy on Monday, 12th July, 2021.
Akinsowon was responding to an earlier press conference held on Wednesday, in which the leader of the Coalition of Gender Based Violence Responders, Lemmy Ughegbe, alleged that Premiere Academy was one of the schools engaging in the ignoble act of sexual harassment.
Ughegbe accused the FCT police of acting like image makers of Premiere Academy by defending the action and role of the school and failed to release, Karen’s medical report to the mother.
He said “The FCT Deputy Commissioner of Police, Fom Pam Joseph, has held on to the medical report of the deceased and refused to give it to the biological mother of the girl. The idea is if she get it she will share with the press. Is the Police PRO of Premiere Academy? What is the business of the police with what the mother does with the information on the medical report?
“Of course as an investigative journalists working with a coalition we have gotten the medical report that corroborate the fact that this girl was raped with condom left inside of her. That condom eventually caused sepsis which led to her untimely death.”
He alleged that preliminary report of autopsy conducted on Keren by the official doctor appointed by the police, Dr. Desmond Ike Okonkwo of Maitama General Hospital revealed that she was raped.
Ughegbe challenged the school management to a – media dialogue to discuss the rape and death of Keren-Happuch and other cases of sexual molestation, which it has the record of covering instead of handing paedophiles to the police.
During the press conference, Keren’s mother, Mrs Vivian Akpagher, who has passed through psychological trauma following the death of her daughter, for the first time, narrated how condom and sperm discharge were found in the deceased’s private part before her death.
The grieving mother who could not hold back her tears made the revelation while addressing journalists on Wednesday in Abuja said she rushed her daughter to the hospital shortly after picking her from the school following the complaints of pains and weakness.
She said the doctor while trying to administer drips on her decided to insert a urinary catheter because of her weakness but surprisingly found sperm discharge and condom left in her private part after a medical test.