. School remains shut till investigation concluded –
When the parents of a four-year-old speaking and hearing impaired young girl, Mary, (not her real name),put their special daughter in a school bus at about 6:30 am on Friday, June 10, 2022, there were no premonitions of evil awaiting her within the next six hours she was traditionally expected to be away from them in her quest to acquire writing skills even though she could not talk or hear verbal conversations around her.
Mary’s parents live and operate a studio business in Kachia, Kachia local government area of Kaduna State which is about 30 minutes drive from Kaduna, the state capital. Mary is their only daughter and a special one for that matter.
On the day of the incident, Mary spent about two extra hours in school beyond the regular closing hour on Thursdays and Fridays in the school which got the parents apprehensive and anxious to welcome their beloved purest of humanity back on their shoulders. “On Thursdays and Fridays, the closing time of Ffad Goshen Academy is 12 pm. But the school bus did not return my daughter until around 2 pm .
“The girl is my only daughter. My daughter is hearing and speaking impaired. But because she was eager to learn how to write, that was why we enrolled her in Ffad Goshen Academy, Gumei, along Zonkwa road, Kachia local government so that she could learn with other children. She is in the pre-primary session.
“On Friday, June 10, I personally put her in the school bus, with about three other children in the vehicle around 6:30 am that fateful day. Ideally, her school closes by 12 pm on Thursdays and Fridays. When we did not see her until around that 12 pm, her mother was disturbed. But around 2 pm, the school bus returned and parked in front of our shop. My wife went to the bus to receive our daughter. But, to her surprise, the girl was not at the back of the bus. The mother later found her lying in front passenger foot spot.
“When she enquired from the driver, he didn’t say a word. When I saw the girl, I knew all was not well with her. When I carried her from the mother, she was touching her lower abdomen and her ‘bombom’, demonstrating how she was slapped and had her mouth covered and penetrated by someone. Since she was just coming from school, we were eager to know who must have done that to her in or around the school.
“We tried to give her food, but she refused. She then slept after a while. Amazingly, when she woke up, she rushed outside to urinate, but she urinated on her body, and that got me worried, because she has never done that before. It was when my wife removed her pant and saw the blood stain that it down on us that someone has capitalised on her condition to defiled her.
” The following day which was Saturday, June 11, we took her to a hospital where a doctor confirmed to us that she was penetrated. At that time, the Doctor was trying to push back her womb inside but the girl was groaning, shouting and crying. Water roll down freely on our cheeks as we were referred to general hospital Kachia where another doctor confirmed the absence of hymen (loss of virginity). The doctor prescribed drugs for us and recommended six tests. That was on Sunday, June 12.
“As we were returning from the general hospital, Kachia, we went straight to the house of the proprietress of the school, Mrs Rebecca Barde, who claimed to be so powerful, because she is working in a government house as an appointee of Governor Nasir El-Rufai. She collected my number and told me that she would get back to us. Along the line, we were shuttling between the school and the hospital. But, when we saw that we were not making progress, we then involved the Police.
“She was not feeling concerned at all. She didn’t even border to check on the girl. Police then swung into action and arrested three staff of the school – the head teacher, our daughter’s class teacher and the school bus driver. The school bus driver later turned out as a prime suspect and I believe he has been helping the Police in their investigations.
“Mrs Barde claimed that her coming to sympathise with the girl would mean she is accepting the girl was violated in her school. Even when the Police called and asked her to come so the case could be treated amicably before it escalate she didn’t bother.
Along the line, when the class teacher was asked who carried the girl from her class, she said she did but did not place her in the front seat. When the driver was asked he said the girl was making trouble and that she wanted to come to the front and that was how she came to the front. But would she be on the floor and not on the seat?
That was how we met with the Commissioner, Human Services and Social Development, Hajiya Hafsat Baba, Director, Gender Studies, Kaduna State University, Prof Hauwau Evelyn Yusuf and Human Right Lawyer, Barr Bukola Ajao who have been of tremendous help in our predicament”.
A human rights lawyer, Barr Bukola Ajao who has been following the development confirmed that the girl was badly damaged and that her womb protruded outside her genitals “too scary for me to behold”.
According to her, “as a human rights activist and civil society person, Prof Huawau referred the matter to me and we have been following up on the case. When I met the little girl, she described how someone slapped her, used hand to cover her mouth and had sexual intercourse with her.
“We have been able to meet with a deputy commissioner of police who referred us back to the gender unit. The matter has been referred to the legal department. The only suspect we have in the police is the school driver and since the police are doing their work, we are following them as they do their investigations. Unfortunately, we were told the girl has to undergo corrective surgery before it is too late.”, she added.
Reacting, Commissioner, Human Services and Social Development, Hajiya Hafsat Mohammed-Baba expressed concern over the development quickly added that the state government would leverage relevant laws and security agencies to get justice for the survivor.
“We felt sad because of the circumstances of the child. The girl cannot speak or hear because she is speaking and hearing impaired. We saw that she was truly severely damaged. We have gone to the hospital and they said she would undergo corrective surgery.
“I want to assure you that the government of Kaduna State will take responsibility for the surgery because she is our girl.
“The school has been closed down because it is still under investigation. That school will remain close until all investigations are concluded and until we get clearance from the court because that girl deserves justice and that is what we are going to do.
“We have laws in place and we are implementing these laws. I believe the law will take its course and since security agencies are already investigating the matter, whoever is responsible will be fixed.
“But in the meantime, we are asking the proprietress and staff of the school to refrain from attempting to reopen the school until the girl gets justice”, she said.