From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Mrs Vivien Akpagher, mother of 14-year-old Keren-Happuch Akpagher, who died after being raped, condom left inside her, which infected her with sepsis and led to her death, has tendered a recording at a press conference in Abuja where, Premiere Academy, Lugbe, admitted to her daughter being raped before her death.
Akpagher, said she was utterly dismayed and disgusted at the denials and propaganda being deployed by the school management in an attempt to evade being found complicit in events leading to her daughter’s death.
According to her, when management staff of Premiere Academy, Lugbe visited her at the hospital where her daughter was admitted on the 21st of June 2021, they admitted to Keren-Happuch being raped and even expressed fears that there may be other victims of rape in their school.
She said the management staff were empathetic at that point, but noted that by the time Keren-Happuch died on 22nd June 2021, they thought of the possible implication to their business interest and decided to change the narrative.
Her words: “During the conversation which was between Keren-Happuch’s the matron of the school, Mrs. Grace Salami, the Head of Pastoral, Mr. Adesanmi and myself, they admitted that they had failed in their responsibility to protect my daughter. In fact, Mrs Salami concluded that the rape must have been very recent.
“This honest and frank conversation was held at the hospital on 21st of June, 2021 when Keren-Happuch was in critical condition and nobody knew she would die. But by the following day when Keren-Happuch died, the entire school changed from empathy mode to the ‘let us protect our school at all cost’ mode. It was at this point that the lies, denials, deceits and propaganda started. Here is the recording of our conversation, which we had and I want us to play it for you all to listen. It is crystal clear.”
Akpagher after playing the recording to journalists said “beyond seeking justice for my daughter, I seek justice to protect other children from suffering what my daughter went through in that school. No child should ever again be raped there or anywhere else. That is what my daughter would want. If we can by our action save other children from being raped at Premiere Academy, Lugbe or in any other school, then my daughter would not have died in vain.”
She expressed sadness that the school rather than show empathy, started releasing statements immediately, saying her daughter died of diabetes.
“At this point, I saw that they were no longer ready to tell the truth and I therefore refused them coming to my house. Of what use is it?”, she retorted.
“They could have come clean by taking responsibility and apologise for what happened to my daughter in their care at the beginning. If they did, we won’t be on this path now.’
In his own remark, leader of the coalition on Gender Based Violence Responders, Lemmy Ughegbe said the voice recording explains “the media frenzy of Premiere Academy, Lugbe and proves the desperation of the school to hoodwink the public with propaganda in other to evade justice.”
The coalition lamented that the school admitted to the rape of the child before she died, but changed its position to protect business interest because they placed business above the sanctity of a child’s life.
Ughegbe noted that “the more the management and board of Premiere Academy embarks on the media frolics, the more they contradict themselves and implicate themselves further.”
He referred to the interview granted to ThisDay Newspapers by acting Principal of the school, Mr. Chris Akinsonwon on Monday, 9th of August 2021, wherein he (Akinsonwon)/was quoted as saying, “we don’t know of the condom. If we knew of a condom, we would have removed it.”
“Gentlemen of the press, you are intelligent people and can easily infer what Akinsonwon means. He has simply said he knew Keren-Happuch was raped, but he did not know condom was left inside her.”
Ughegbe said, “Premiere Academy, Lugbe thinks because they have money to organise press conferences and pay full page advertorials, they will use the media to evade justice. No way.
“They can do all their propaganda and press conferences, all we need is one press conference to counter all their falsehoods with incontrovertible and undeniable evidence”, he stated.
Ughegbe added that, “We have more evidence on them. Let them continue with their propaganda. For 5 press conferences, we have just one truth to diffuse and counter them. We are ready.”
He accused the school of cheap blackmail, which according to him “only goes to show that they are cheap, condescending blackmailers, who lack the intelligence to achieve result with blackmail.
“They said I’m leading the coalition because I own a rival school, which wants to take the students of Premiere Academy, Lugbe. I had expected you people to ask me this question. A reporter from Blueprint Newspapers asked me this question this week and I laughed.
“The school my spouse manages is a nursery and primary school and it is a day school. Premiere Academy, Lugbe is a boarding secondary school. Where is the rivalry? If anything, we are a feeder team to them as our kids graduate and move to secondary school. But their secondary school students cannot come down to primary school. So, were lies the rivalry?
“As matter of fact such cheap blackmail questions their intelligence and sense of due diligence. Both schools are 5 minutes walking distance apart, yet they couldn’t check their fact. As a parent, I cannot trust people with such low level intelligence and high on cheap blackmail with the education of my children. No way.”