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OPINION

In Search For Justice For Keren-Happuch Akpagher

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Keren
Not long ago, we were jolted by the news of the unfortunate death of Miss Keren-Happuch Akpagher, a 14-year-old boarding student of the Premiere Academy, Abuja. From her mother’s narrative, Keren was said to have been molested in the school, and as a result, died a few days later. It will be easier for you to understand how jolted I was when you know that I am a mother of two children – daughters – in the same school.
The mother narrated that Keren called her that she was sick and requested to be picked up. She did take her home on Saturday, 19 June 2021.
According to a media report, her mother, Mrs Vihimga Akpagher, said, “By the morning of Monday, June 21, 2021, I noticed that her condition had deteriorated and took her to hospital, and while examining her, the doctor saw a discharge, ran a test and discovered that it was a condom that was left in her. They tested her urine and it contained sperm; and like that, infection and sepsis led to her death.”
After reading the news report, I quickly called the school for clarification. The head of the school told me the school’s side of the story. According to the principal, Mr Chris Akinsowon, “Keren Akpagher, reported to the clinic on 17 June, 2021 with a complaint of redness of the eye. Her mother requested that she be taken to see an ophthalmologist on Saturday, 19 June, 2021.
She was taken for the appointment in the morning of the same day. On her return to the school, her mother further requested to take her home because Keren was insisting on going home for that weekend. An exeat was granted and she was released to her mother on Saturday afternoon in a stable condition.”
He further said that the school only got to know about her hospitalization in the morning of Monday, 21 June, 2021. “We mobilized immediately and paid her a visit at the hospital on that day. It was with deep sympathy that we later heard of her demise early the next day, Tuesday, 22 June, 2021,” he told me.
When I inquired into the allegation of sexual molestation, the principal noted that there was no report of sexual molestation by the deceased girl or any person whatsoever throughout the events that eventually led to the death of the poor girl. He said he was surprised to hear the deceased mother allege that. He informed that the matter has been reported to the police and that the school has honoured the police invitation and is currently cooperating with them in their investigation.
Since the breaking of the news, our PTA platform has never been this engaging as all parents are keenly following the investigation. To demonstrate our interest in getting to the root of the matter, some of us are even mulling retaining a legal team to represent the PTA in the proceedings, should the case get to court.
I understand that the police, expectedly, have conducted an autopsy and the report is expected to be out in four to six weeks. The autopsy is supposed to shed more light as to the cause of Keren’s death and give a clue as to the circumstances surrounding her death.
It is heart-rending to read that some group of people, going by the name Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Responders, take to the street to assert that the report that is yet to be released affirms that Keren was raped and sodomized. They went further to allege that the school and the police – two stakeholders with very high stakes in the search for justice in the matter – are trying to cover up the case.
I wonder where they got their information. It is barely a fortnight the autopsy was conducted by Dr Desmond Ike Okonkwo, the principal pathologist at the Maitama General Hospital, who was appointed by the police for the exercise and witnessed by the school and family representatives. In ideal situations it takes up to six weeks for such reports to be released.
On this note, I call on the NGOs and in fact, all stakeholders to refrain from rumour mongering as this may jeopardise the investigation. I make bold to say that all the stakeholders in this issue, except for the alleged perpetrator(s) and/or his/their collaborator(s), are keen on getting to the root of the case.
In this case, there is a coincidence of interest in justice. Every right-thinking stakeholder – the family, the school, the police/government, the PTA, the GBV Responders and the general public – is in search of justice, may be for different reasons which may include to ensure that the perpetrator(s) and/or his/their collaborator(s) is/are brought to book, to help get closure, to maintain law and order, to manage reputation/clout, to get reassurance and so on. As a result of this interest in justice, it will be a disservice to one another, to ourselves and to even the spirit of the late Keren for any stakeholder to assume that it is the only one interested in justice in this matter.
We should be patient and allow the police, who are in charge of this investigation to do their job with due process and without interference. In no time, the report of the autopsy will be released and we would have a clearer picture as to the cause of Keren’s death and a possible pointer as to if she was sexually molested or not.
Like most other stakeholders, the PTA are anxiously waiting for the outcome of the police investigation and their next line of actions.
We are closely monitoring the processes and will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that we get to the root of the matter but, no matter how agitated we are, we are willing to allow the due process take its course. I enjoin all other stakeholders to also align with this decision so we forge a united front in our concerted efforts towards unravelling the circumstances that surrounded Keren’s death.
By Georgia Agada

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OPINION

The Making Of A Dictator

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Dictator

To understand the implications of the regime of Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) regime’s plot to muzzle the media, it is necessary to trace the journey of the media and of the concept of freedom of expression in the service of democratic governance.

 

 

The Age of Enlightenment or Age of Reason of the 17th and 18th Century introduced the idea of Individualism which meant that the individual citizen of Old World Europe could justifiably hold an opinion different from those of others, including his monarch.

 

 

It advanced the pursuit of reason and empiricism and prompted the ideals of liberty –or ability to do as one pleases– and tolerance of ideas that one probably disagrees with– fraternity and constitutional government, which limited the powers of the monarch who was no longer regarded as divine.

 

 

The Age of Enlightenment was propelled by the growth of the press, the first of which were circulated in England in the 1620s. The penny newspaper, cheap tabloid, debuted in America in the 1830s to contribute robustly to conversations on democracy.

 

 

In England, the press took over the vocation of confronting the English monarch from the House of Commons that was established in 1341, when landholders took their petitions and grievances to the King through the Parliament.

 

 

The Nigerian press, that started with “Iwe Irohin Awon Yoruba,” first published in 1859 by Reverend Henry Townsend in Abeokuta, contributed significantly to the efforts of the nationalists to deliver Nigeria from the vice grip of colonial Great Britain.

 

 

It is regrettable that the press that stood in the vanguard to take out the colonialists, before confronting the jackboot military in Nigerian politics, is now the victim of politicians, who are beneficiaries of its daring.

 

The press in New World America became an indispensable institution of American politics to the extent that Thomas Jefferson, an American President, remarked that if he were asked to choose between “a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.”

 

 

The job of surveillance and report of events that the media performs in the public space, for the mass, atomised, associational and complex society spread across the wide geographical spread of modern nations, is what terrifies regimes run by the likes of Major General Buhari.

 

 

The press has become a veritable institution of the democratic traditions even before the 21st Century, and there is hardly a country in the world that does not have its media, no matter how rudimentary it may be.

 

 

Even the Constitution of Nigeria gives every Nigerian the right to establish a media in order to express their freedom of speech, uphold the fundamental objectives of the constitution and hold the government accountable to the people.

 

 

The Federal Government of Nigeria, run by the All Progressives Congress, the political party that rode to power on the back of the media, while waving what has now turned out to be a banner of fake progressivism, is about to destroy the ladder it climbed to get to power.

 

 

After disembarking from the back of the proverbial tiger, the APC is determined to castrate it and pull off its fangs. The denizens of the APC must have gone through the grace notes of Nicolo Machiavelli, the Italian nobleman who recommended that anyone who assumes power must neutralise those who helped them acquire the power. It adds up, really.

 

 

The Minister for Information and Culture of this regime, Lai Mohammed, that is currently suffering from a bout of recidivism, relapsing into bad habits, is turning out as a cross between Josef Goebbels, Fuhrer Adolf Hitler’s Minister for Propaganda, and “The Thought Police,” of Oceania, the dystopic society of George Orwell’s novel, “NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR.”

 

And if you dug into the past of Buhari, you would discover a military Head of State, who promised some journalists that he would tamper with the freedom of the press, and did with the obnoxious Decree 4 that he employed to send Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor, journalists from The Guardian newspaper, to gaol for reporting the truth.

 

The President and the Minister of Information are probably using Olusegun Odebunmi, Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, who has vehemently argued to the contrary, as the conduit to promote the annoying bill.

 

The bill, according to Odebunmi, will protect and guide the Nigeria Press Council and reduce quackery, fake news and hate speech, as if there are no laws that already check libel, slander, defamation of character, fraud, cybercrime, sedition and insurrection.

 

Some of the more offending provisions of the dreadfully obnoxious bill empower the Minister of Information  to “establish and disseminate a National Press Code and standards for media houses and journalists;” approve the establishment of media houses; grant them licences; and monitor them and their journalists as they comply with the code.

 

Indeed, anyone or body corporate that owns, publishes or prints a newspaper, magazine, journal or any other periodical without documentation by the Council, shall be liable for an offence and shall be prosecuted.

 

 

Violators of the proposed law shall be fined N5 million or spend three years in prison; pay additional fine of N20,000 for each day the offence continues to be committed; face the possibility of a suspension for six months or more; in addition to striking out the name of the offending journalist from a register to be compiled an infallible NPC.

 

 

Another absurd aspect of the bill is that newspaper vendors who sell or distribute the newspaper, magazine or journal shall be liable for an offence and shall be jailed for one year or pay a fine of N250000.

The mother of all the offences is fake news, a piece of news published and established to be fake thereafter, attracts N5 million fine or two years in jail to the journalist, in addition to N2 million compensation to the “victim,” which may be an individual, body corporate or government.

 

But if the guilty party was a media house, it shall pay a fine of N10 million or be closed down for one whole year! In addition, the offending media house shall pay N20 million compensation to the victim of the fake news.

 

To all this nonsense, the press that is gradually becoming a victim of the state, is telling anyone who cares to listen that there is literally a fire on the mountain and it is kindled by the APC regime.

 

The print media is stating its case in a rather dramatic manner. It sets the image of an inmate, whose mouth is sealed by a tape made of prison bars. And below the image is the following sorry narrative:

 

“Information Blackout is what the National Assembly (dominated by APC, erstwhile friend of the media), wants to achieve with the NPC and NBC (Media) Act Amendment Bills.” The media also notes, “It’s not just against the media… it’s about the society’s right to know, your right to be heard.”

 

What the media didn’t add is that the acts of both the legislative arm, that is proposing the Amendment, and the Executive Branch, that is encouraging the compromise of the liberty of the media and the Nigerian citizens, are the stuff of which dictators are made.

 

The ominous signs are just too obvious.

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OPINION

Dancing On The Blood Of Zamfarans….

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BLOOD

Recently , no fewer than 40 persons were reportedly killed following attacks by suspected bandits on some villages in Zamfara state. The villages are Wari Tsaune, Gidan Adamu, Gidan Maidawa of Faru, all in the Maradun Local Government Area of the state.

 

It was also reported that the attacks left hundreds of others, including women and children with various degrees of injury.
Also several cows were said to have been rustled during the attack and shops in the affected villages were looted by the gunmen. This is a furtherance of the story of “sorrow, tears and blood” which has plagued Zamfara state in the last five(5) years.

 

Curiously, it was less than a week that Matawalle dumped PDP for the APC that his own local government came under serious attacks.
Who dun-nit ? The answer is not far fetched.

 

In this dystopia-like situation, widespread sobriety is expected of everyone especially the public office holders in Zamfara which is why the gross insensitivity displayed by the Deputy Governor, Mahdi Aliyu Gusau is offensive, wicked, and imbecilic.

 

It was reported that barely 24hrs after the said attack which left a river of blood and tears, the deputy Governor held a rally in the state capital. The said rally was to show the presence of his party in the state.

 

I am now of the utmost conviction that his recent show of shame is a piece in the puzzle of insecurity which has plagued Zamfara.

 

This is one of the many vices of the party which made Governor Matawalle ditch the party for the All Progressive Congress. A party which is insensitive to the plight of its members and those it governs should not be a platform for anyone with selflessness and purposeful leadership to build his lofty agenda and aspirations on.

 

 

The first piece of the puzzle which I will like to share was a tweet by Femi Fani Kayode few weeks ago in which he stated “May God deliver Zamfara & Nigeria from the evil of a madman that is determined to soak the state & our country in blood.

 

This man is responsible for the instability, bloodshed & violence we have suffered in Nigeris over decades & he works for the CIA. Many fear him but I do not.” He further affirmed “He is pure evil & I am going to expose him. The sword of truth will cut him down & the light of righteousness will expose his dark & evil ways & secrets.

 

What he is doing in Zamfara; the NW & indeed all over Nigeris today is unacceptable. He is a dangerous snake filled with hate, poison & blind & vaulting ambition even at his age”.
This is an indication that the sponsors or sponsor of banditry in Zamfara is known and can be revealed.

 

The second puzzle is the bold action of His Excellency, Governor Bello Muhammed Matawalle when he publicly challenged everyone in the state to follow demonstration of sincerity by swearing by the Holy Quran that he knows nothing about the banditry ravaging the state or anybody coordinating it. In his words on March 21, 2021 at the state capital while receiving an award as the Khadimul Quran conferred on him by the Centre for Quranic Reciter, he said; “I have sworn with the Holy Quran that if I know, or if I am part of, or I know anybody who is coordinating this (banditry), or with my hand or any of my family, may Allah not give me (speaks in Arabic) in this life,” he said.

 

Matawalle added, “I dare all the people from Zamfara State, from our father, Aliyu Gusau to Yarima Bakura and all the cabinet members, right from the inception of the political dispensation of the state, to take this oath as I did.”
Curiously, none of these aforementioned persons took up the challenge.

 

The last piece of the puzzle here is the celebration by Mahdi Aliyu. This only affirms the said attack a day before his rally was a successful muderous plot while the rally was a celebration of the successful execution of the evil plot.

 

With these three puzzles, it is evident one need not to look too far for the mischief makers behind the wickedness which has engulfed Zamfara for over five(5) years. The inssentive action of Mahdi Aliyu Gusua was dancing on the blood of innocent Zamfarans

 

 

Abdukadir Sulaiman,

a public affairs analyst.

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OPINION

Keren-Happuch’s Death: The Unasked Questions

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Keren

Let me first of all commiserate with the grieving parents and family of late Miss Keren-Happuch Akpagher, the 14-year-old SS1 student of Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja, who died on June 22.

I also share in the grief of her classmates, fellow students, owners, management and staff of the school, who are also mourning her demise. May God give them comfort and fortitude to bear the loss.

Keren’s mysterious death on 22 June, 2021 has generated some tension and controversy. Not because she died as a teenager, but for the unclear circumstances that surrounded her unfortunate death. Her death is one puzzle that Nigerians are interested in how it is solved. With no clear answer as to who could have been responsible for her demise yet, the blame is now being tossed between https://thepagenews.net/keren-happuchs-death-the-unasked-questions/, the family and the health facility where she eventually died.

Her mother, Mrs. Vlhimga Vivien Akpagher, had alleged that Keren-Happuch, who was diabetic, died of infection and sepsis caused by a condom, allegedly left inside her private part by an unknown person(s), while in the care of the school.

She had said that the condom was discovered by doctors at Queen’s Hospital, a private health facility in Wuse Zone 6, Abuja, where Keren was hospitalised when she took ill. Further, Mrs. Akpagher alleged that her daughter might have been sexually molested in the school. She died at Queen’s Hospital after going into a coma.

Some commentators however, disagreed with the claims by the Akpagher family. Some have said that condom is a latex material that is not likely to decay, contrary to the claim by the family. Secondly, if the condom had stuck in her private part for days, the sperm cells which the medical examination by Queen’s Hospital, Wuse, allegedly revealed, should not have been found in her urine. This opinion is not sacrosanct, as only medical experts and a scientific investigation can confirm or dispute this assertion.

Keren-Happuch’s demise is indeed one knotty issue that the Nigerian Police has commenced investigations on. Some officials of the school have been interrogated based on Mrs. Akpagher’s allegation of sexual molestation. The school management has equally assured of its commitment to continue to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies to ensure thorough investigations and the unravelling of the cause of the teenager’s death.

An autopsy to determine the real cause of death was initially scheduled for Saturday, July 3, but it has yet to be held.

As the controversy rages on amidst the police investigations, it is important at this juncture to draw attention to some pertinent questions that may be helpful to the law enforcement agencies in their efforts to get to the root of the matter.

The first question is, was Keren-Happuch sexually molested in the school as alleged by her family? If she was, who could have done it? Could it have been a teacher, or a non-teaching staff member who possibly had access to where Karen was at the time of the molestation?

Could it be a fellow male student? If the culprit was a male student, what could have been the relationship between Keren and the male student? The world will be interested in unravelling this puzzle.

Another question to ask is, did Keren ever discuss with her friends and confidants within her circle of friends if she was in a relationship with any male friend?

The school is supposed to be a safe abode and a second home to students; could it be that Keren sneaked out of school at a particular time, and she was possibly sexually molested?

One key issue that has left the public disturbed is the likelihood of how sexual assault or acitivity will go unoticed in a school with over 52 CCTV points and good monitoring system and protocol in place. I strongly doubt if such an act can ever happen under the watch of the school.

Furthermore, the use of a condom further confuses the situation. It is improbable that a stranger would have sexually assaulted Keren using a condom. Is there a probability that the sexual offender is a familiar face to her? Or, is the offender seen by Keren as too powerful to report to her mother, a trusted friend and school authorities? Or, is the person someone she has affection for?

These and many more posers are critical areas that the Nigerian Police and any other law enforcement agency that are tasked with the duty of getting under the skin of this matter, should beam their searchlight. Possibly they could provide the lead necessary to break the ice as per the investigations into the unfortunate death of citizen Keren.

Providing answers to these salient questions is indeed, expedient – to preserve the integrity of the nation’s education system, especially in the private sector where similar cases have been recorded, restore confidence in the boarding school system, and most importantly, to ensure Keren-Happuch gets justice.

Okedara, a social worker, writes from Lagos.

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