Queens College Sexual Harassment: The Full Story

Source: thewillnigeria.com
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BEVERLY HILLS, March 21, (THEWILL) – There has been a raging storm in one of Nigeria's popular high school, Queens College, a girls only school, over allegations of sexual harassment of a junior student by a male teacher.

While there are various versions of the story, allegations and counter allegations, denials and threats, THEWILL presents the full story hoping that readers can grasp the facts of the story and be able to make conclusions based on the facts.

Allegation: An un-named un-confirmed parent wrote via a blog that a teacher sexually harassed her daughter and the school administration hasn't reacted to her claims.

“I would like to report the management of Queen's College Yaba. As I write, the principal and vice principals have, over a month now, deliberately suppressed several complaints of sexual harassment which my daughter and some other students have consistently reported to their class teacher, their year head, the head of department of the accused teacher and the principal's office.

“My daughter is in JSS2, second term at Queen's College. During their visiting day in first term she complained to me that there is an Integrated Science teacher, Mr Olaseni Osifala – who has been harrassing her and some other students. I asked her if the man had touched her and she said no, he only tells them that they are looking beautiful and he wants to marry them. I dismissed her complaints as typical compliments from a teacher.

“However, two weeks later, on Thursday, she called me late at night and she was crying bitterly. I could barely hear what she was saying until after I had calmed her down. Me myself I was scared, wondering what had happened. She told me then that this same teacher, who by the way, lives in the boarding house area, had cornered her on her way back from easing herself just before lights out.

“She told me that he called her and she thought he wanted to punish her for leaving her dorm room when it was almost lights out. But when she got closer to him, he was smelling of alcohol and she ran away from him. But he ran after her and grabbed her and tried to kiss her while touching her private parts.

She added that she spoke with the Vice principal who said that even though my daughter was telling the truth, the teacher is her man and he does a lot of work for her and there is nothing me or anyone can do to move him out of the school. She also turned around to threaten me that if I like, I can go to Abuja to report, nothing would happen.

Serious allegations! However, accused teacher Mr. Olaseni Osifala responds via his facebook account and debunked the allegations.

“I don't drink”, he wrote adding that the allegations against him are “fiction”.

Osifala re-emphasised his position that the allegations against him are untrue. He added that it was not the first time such “false” allegation would be levelled against him.

“I am worried about this matter because there is no truth in it”, he told another blogger Mike Ile.

“It is not the first time I have been accused falsely. Students have openly confessed to being recruited to frame me up in the past. The teachers were there. They can tell you the truth.

“All I want is to be the best teacher I possibly can. The reason I always win the awards is a function of my drive for excellence. It ensures that I am always busy.

“My work is not secret. I am an open book. I know that whatever I say now will not matter to those who have made up their minds to judge me.

“Let God take control”, Osifala said.
As the drama continued, the parent in question has refused to speak up, and the student remains unknown casting doubts on the story in the first instance. Meanwhile, the school principal, vice principal, PTA chairman, house mistress, Head girl and students (all females) have risen in defense of the accused teacher.

QC Principal, Dr Mrs Lami Amodu with Mike Ile
“As I talk to you, no single parent has come to me or any of my Vice-Principals to report Olaseni as a molester. I assure you that if the allegation was true, other parents would have been buzzing our lines non-stop. Children spread gossip fast.

“When this news reached me, I summoned an emergency meeting of all the critical stakeholders. We all discussed before inviting Mr Osifala.

“Every one of my staff says positive things about the man. Of course they were all here (Queens College) before me, so they are qualified to assess members of staff properly.

“Personally, even before I resumed, a former principal of Kings College had recommended Olaseni as a credible person to work with. His name is Otunba Dele Olapeju. He is a highly respectable man. Let us not forget that Olaseni worked with five different principals, all of who also told me good words about him, despite the various allegations against him.

“I can vouch for him. My predecessor, whom we just sent forth today, told me the same thing. So it has been a recurring decimal, these allegations.

“We have come to understand that some persons are on a campaign of calumny against this teacher. Yet, he is the best teacher in our school. During World Teachers' Day, he bagged five awards.

“I have quietly observed Olaseni over time. I have X-rayed his relationship with students and I have not found him wanting. The same students he has been accused of molesting, are the ones who voted him their best teacher.

“I read the story on social media. I trust the public to read between the lines. There are too many inconsistencies with the story. Nothing is hidden in this school. If, like the story said, students came out at night to boo the molester, do you think that before dawn, the story would not have spread like wild fire? And for a whole month, nobody reported to me? It is not possible.

PTA chairperson Mrs B. E. Akhetuamen
I am the Chairperson of the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA). I represent the best interests of parents of the children in this school. I have two daughters schooling here. After six years in the school, I should be able to trust them to intimate me about things that happen in the school, especially when I ask. They have made it clear to me, no such thing occurred.

Meanwhile, no parent has called me to make any such allegation against the teacher in question and I find it very strange.

I know Olaseni as a teacher who has respect for constituted authority. Knowing how the school community works, I assure you that if such a thing has happened, the students themselves would have given the matter leverage.

It would not have needed a blogger to break the story. There is a policy against use of phones in the college but we hear rumours that some students smuggle in phones.

Do you imagine that such students would not have called their parents with the gist? And for all this time that the event allegedly occurred (one month now) do you think that no parent would have raised eyebrows?

When I asked my daughter about this story, she said she only started hearing about it today. I am an Edo woman, I speak from my heart because I fear only God. Even if I face anybody now, I can defend him (Olaseni) authoritatively.

I have always recommended him to every principal that was posted here. Even the current principal will confirm that I spoke positively about this teacher to her. He always seeks to correct everything going wrong within the school. He is fearless. He never abdicates his duties and I say this with a sense of pride.

I wonder who would want to pull him down. We are looking into this matter and we will involve the police.

Vice-Principal (senior school)
These are all false allegations. Even with some past principals, similar allegations were made against the young man.

Yet they all worked happily and successfully with him, enough to make them recommend him to their successors. Even the principal we are sending forth today, Mrs Osime, can clarify this. It is all crooked lies.

How can you make such a weighty allegation and not be able to tell us who the child is? And if you see what is written in the allegation, you will know that they are all lies.

For starters, Mr Olaseni does not live on the school premises. So how can he be responsible for molesting a child by 2am?

Again, he teaches Biology. The story says he teaches Integrated Science. That is a lie. He also does not teach junior school as alleged in the story. Biology is offered in the senior school.

To the best of our knowledge, Olaseni does not drink alcohol. So there are some fundamental lies that already give away the fact that someone is being funny somewhere.

We have investigated. We tried to find out from our boarding house mistresses about the said event, one month ago. You can ask around at your own convenience, there is no record of such a thing.

About the allegation that I told the parent to go to Abuja, how is that possible? How can I tell a parent that, when no parent has even come to me with such a report? Did I threaten a ghost?

The story also said that the alleged 'victim' tried to call her mother that night. Since phones are not even allowed in the school, how is that possible? We do not know yet, the alleged parent nor the student. Our investigations continue.

Senior boarding house mistress
I am Mrs D. A Oludinmu. I am the senior boarding house mistress of Queens College, Yaba. Yes, I admit that Mr Olaseni comes around the hostel because he is the Hostel Maintenance Officer. But there is a procedure for that.

He never comes without the permission of the principal and even during emergencies, he does not come alone. The principal still has to permit him, and he always comes with the maintenance boys.

Mr Olaseni does not come to the hostel outside working hours. I can vouch for him.

Head girl
The story has it that Mr Osifala lives in the school compound. No male staff lives within. They also said they saw our teacher with alcohol after lights out. This cannot be true because he speaks against alcohol in class. He is our Biology teacher, not Integrated Science.

Knowing him from J.S.S 1 to S.S. 3 now, I can say that the allegations are wrong. No, I just heard the story this morning. My statement cannot be doctored.

Yes, we complain to him when we have problems in the hostel. These problems include bad electric bulbs, water problems, etc.

On Monday, a number of Queens College students protested within the school carrying various inscriptions on cardboards.

Their anger was not against Mr Osifala, not against the school authorities, but against the media and bloggers for falsely accusing their teacher before investigating the matter.

They protested in defense of the accused teacher who is being accused of molesting them.

Reports also indicate that the 'family' of the victim is being threatened to keep quiet or be dealt with by calls from un-named individuals.

THEWILL calls on the Lagos State government to investigate the matter and probe the allegations against the teacher. If found guilty, appropriate sanctions must be given to him and the school authority. However, if innocent, the parent must be punished for false accusation and ridicule which the teacher, also married with children, has been through.

Finally, THEWILL calls for caution on the part of journalists and bloggers to ensure that a bid to generate readership should not be at the expense of integrity and fairness.

Story by David Oputah