Deeper Life School Saga: Trial Commences Afresh

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

Hearing commenced afresh today at the Uyo Magistrate Court in the case of alleged sexual abuse, starvation, and negligence instituted by the parents of Don Davis Archibong, an eleven-year-old student of Deeper life high school, Uyo campus, against the school principal, some staff, and two students.

This was necessitated by the sudden transfers in the court in which the former presiding magistrate was replaced by a new one.

As usual, since the commencement of the case, the media was barred from observing the proceedings.

However, the prosecuting counsel, David Okokon who was not in court today because his flight from Abuja was delayed, told Channels Television in a telephone conversation that as a result of the transfer of the former presiding magistrate, and because the case was still at its preliminary stage, the case had to commence afresh.

He explained that in line with conventional legal practice in such circumstances, the accused persons would take their pleas afresh after which they were admitted to the subsisting bail.

Seven accused persons are facing a four-count charge bordering on sexual molestation, maltreatment, starvation, and negligence.

The case was adjourned to March 3, 2021, for a hearing.

Those facing trial include the school’s principal, Mrs. Ndidi Solomon, Joseph Nseabasi, Akpan Johnson, Egor Wilson, and Joseph Ikenna.

Two minors, Shallom Ibukun and Ola Feyesetan were also among those brought to court.

Hearing Of Case Involving Deeper Life School Student Continues At Uyo Magistrate Court

 

A hearing has begun at the Uyo Magistrate Court in the case of alleged molestation, starvation and negligence instituted by the parents of Don Davis Archibong, an 11-year-old student of the Deeper Life High School, Uyo against the school principal, some staff and two students.

Seven accused persons are facing four counts bordering on sexual molestation, maltreatment, starvation and negligence.

They include the school’s principal, Mrs Ndidi Solomon, Joseph Nseabasi, Akpan Johnson, Egor Wilson, and Joseph Ikenna.

Two minors, Shallom Ibukun and Ola Feyesetan were also brought to court.

The trial which was held behind closed doors while the media was barred from observing the proceedings, was adjourned to February 10.

On January 7, the same court had granted the Principal of Deeper Life High School Uyo and the six others bail in the sum of N500,000 each, before adjourning the case till January 20 for further hearing.

Akwa Ibom Govt Transfers Alleged Student Molestation Case To Police

File photo of Akwa Ibom Governor, Udom Emmanuel

 

Akwa Ibom State government has transferred the case of alleged sexual abuse and maltreatment involving an 11-year-old student of Deeper Life High School in Uyo to the police for proper investigation.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Ini Ememobong said that the state government has withdrawn from the matter.

“The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, HE Mr. Udom Emmanuel had last week directed the Commissioner of Education to investigate a complaint of neglect, starvation and molestation by a parent against the Management, Staff, and some Students of Deeper Life High School, Uyo,” he said.

“The Commissioner had immediately swung into action by visiting the parents and the child who is the subject of the alleged infractions. She consequently invited the parents, the boy, school management, the accused students with their parents and named witnesses, to the Ministry of Education for a fact-finding meeting.

“While the investigation was ongoing, the Attorney General of the State notified the Commissioner of Education of the concurrent investigation of the same matter by the Police and the interest of several international Organizations like the United Nations Special rapporteur on Human Trafficking, Mirabelle Center, FIDA Akwa Ibom, Sexual and Gender-based Violence Response Unit of the Ministry of Justice, Akwa Ibom State among others.

“It was therefore advisable for the Commissioner for Education to hands off the investigation and allows the Police, which is the proper government agency to handle allegations of crime, to take over.”

The commissioner reiterated the state government’s commitment to unravelling the truth behind the incidence and would not fail to prosecute anybody found culpable in the matter.

While asking members of the public to be patient and allow for a thorough police investigation, he said the government would take necessary actions once the report of the result is released.

“The medical report from the private hospital where the child had been taken for examination and treatment by his parents has been received, while the child has been taken for further medical investigations at the Agape Sexual referral Center, with the consent of the parents and all interested parties.”

“The State Government is committed to the revelation of the truth of the circumstance and is determined to prosecute anybody found culpable of any wrongdoing.

“At no time did the Commissioner for Education or any staff of the State Government harass or intimidate the parent or the affected student, or anybody connected to the matter,” he stated.

Molestation: We Will Not Cover Up Any Immoral Act – Deeper Life High School

 

The management of the Deeper Life High School has reacted to the controversy trailing the molestation of a JSS 1 student of the school in Akwa Ibom State.

In a video released on Tuesday, the school’s Education Secretary, Mrs Thelma Malaka, stated that the school would not cover up the issue but ensure justice was served.

“Permit me to remind you that the Office of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State has taken over the investigation of the matter to ensure neutrality and a dispassionate outcome.

“We appreciate the concerted efforts of everyone who has shown support in the investigation thus far,” she said in the clip which lasted a few minutes.

Malaka added, “We reiterate that we will be transparent and that justice will not only be served, but it will also be seen by all that it has been served.

“We would like to restate that Deeper Life High School stands on the core values of integrity and uprightness and will not attempt to cover up any immoral act under any guise.”

 

Beaten For Bedwetting

The student’s mother, Mrs Deborah Okezie, had posted a video on Facebook where she alleged that her 11-year-old son was sexually abused by his seniors when he was moved from his hostel to another hostel originally meant for senior students.

Recounting his ordeal, the victim said he was subjected to abuses such that he was forced to starve for days, beaten for bedwetting, and also sent to a hostel for senior students where he was also maltreated.

A screenshot taken on December 28, 2020, shows Mrs Deborah Okezie saying she is being threatened and under pressure to drop the case.

 

The video resulted in the suspension of the principal of the school by the authorities while the Akwa Ibom state government has launched an investigation into the incident.

Highlighting the actions taken by the school authorities since the victim’s mother raised the alarm, Malaka confirmed the suspension of the principal, noting that the management immediately initiated an investigation into the matter.

But she stated that they have decided to restrain themselves from further comments because it would amount to sub judice since the Akwa Ibom State government had taken over the investigation.

 

Truth Will Prevail

“Considering the potential impact of this issue, especially on what we stand for, we are compelled to provide an earlier update before the final report by the government.

“The panel has sat, and we have presented staff members and students of our school who have been mentioned in this particular case all through the period of the investigation,” the education secretary revealed.

She further explained, “We believe that the government will reveal the final report once the investigation is concluded … as a parent myself, I do care about the mental and physical health of (name withheld) who has been at the centre of this issue.

“Despite the intriguing underpinning, we will continue to show our love to him within the limits permitted by his parents. We have unflinching confidence in our God to resolve the issue such that at the end, the truth will ultimately prevail.”

Mrs Thelma Malaka highlights the steps taken by the school authorities in a video released on December 29, 2020.

 

Malaka disclosed that the police authorities were also investigating the matter and the school had been invited to tell its side of the story.

She stated that the detailed interrogation was adjourned due to the holidays and was hopeful that a new date would be communicated as soon as possible by the police.

The school official asked Nigerians to be on the lookout for the final report from the appropriate authorities.

On Monday, Channels Television reported that the victim’s mother alleged threats and pressure from undisclosed quarters asking her to drop the case.

While she insisted on ensuring that justice was served in the case, she lamented that her son was frequently starved and beaten up by the senior students.

In the video, Okezie compared a picture of her son before and after he went to the boarding house, saying the child now looked malnourished.

Mother Of Student ‘Abused’ By Seniors Alleges Threat, Pressure To Drop Case

A screenshot taken on December 28, 2020 shows Mrs Deborah Okezie saying she is being threatened and under pressure to drop the case.

 

The mother of a student of the Deeper Life High School who was abused sexually has alleged threats and pressure from undisclosed quarters asking her to drop the case.

Mrs Deborah Okezie’s 11-year-old child was said to have been sexually molested by some senior students in the school located in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.

She had posted a video on Facebook where she alleged that her son, a JSS1 student, was sexually abused by his seniors when he was moved from his hostel to another hostel originally meant for senior students.

Okezie noted that the boy was frequently starved and beaten up by the senior students and in the video, she compared a picture of her son before and after he went to the boarding house, stating that the child now looked malnourished.

The victim who recounted some of the abuses he was subjected to, alleged that he was forced to starve for days, beaten for bedwetting, and also sent to a hostel for senior students where he was also maltreated.

The video resulted in the suspension of the principal of the school by the authorities while the Akwa Ibom state government has launched an investigation into the incident.

Mrs Okezie had agreed to speak with Channels Television on the incident but later stopped picking calls from our correspondent over threats and pressure from undisclosed quarters.

The school which is located along the Idoro Road in Uyo is currently under lock and key.

In an interview with Channels Television, a sociologist at the University of Uyo, Dr Aniekan Brown, analysed the short-term and long-term psychological impact of the incident and the steps to be taken in the circumstance.

He said the ugly incident could discourage the victim and other children from going to school, adding that the long-term effects could mar the victim’s future if not properly managed.

Brown, who is also the coordinator of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Calabar Zone, commended the state government for setting up a panel to investigate the case.

He called for more vigilance by the management of schools to properly monitor the activities of students to prevent an occurrence of such an ugly incident.

The Deeper Life High School, which has 21 campuses across the country with its headquarters in Lagos, is owned by a Pentecostal church – Deeper Christian Life Ministry.