A couple of days after PREMIUM TIMES published a report about an alleged rape of a female student at the Federal Science and Technical College (FSTC) in Otukpo, Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has ordered an investigation into the incident.
The Benue State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Michael Gusa, in a stated on Tuesday quotes the governor as directing, on Monday, “security agencies to allegations of sexual assault on female students of the Federal Science and Technical College, Otukpo, by a staff of the school.”
On Saturday, this paper had reported how a store officer, Ernest Esly, allegedly raped an SSS 3 female student of the college.
The Federal Ministry of Education said Mr Esly had been suspended following a report by a panel of inquiry, which indicted the staff.
“The man (Mr Esly) has been suspended. Since it is a disciplinary matter, it has to go through the procedure: the Senior State Committee will look at it and make recommendations for the final action to be taken,” Bem Goong, education ministry’s spokesperson in a telephone interview had told PREMIUM TIMES.
But social activists said the alleged offence deserves a legal penalty.
“The governor has directed that this matter be officially incidented and forwarded to security agencies for proper investigation so that the culprits can be brought to justice,” Mr Gusa’s statement read in part.
It added, “This is a threat to female children who are in the school, and for staff of such school to be assaulting them it doesn’t speak well of our society and it doesn’t speak well of the future of the girl child.”
The Attorney General disclosed that his office had already taken up the matter, in line with Governor Ortom’s directive.
“In compliance with the directive, we have written a complaint to the Commissioner of Police and also written to the Director of the State Security Services in the State to carry out a discrete investigation into the matter to ascertain the veracity of the allegation.”
“Premium Times reported on December 4, 2021, that, a certain staff of the Federal Science and Technical College, Otukpo, Mr. Ernest Esly alleged to have been using his access to food in the school’s store to lure female students into immoral relationships.
“According to the report, Mr Esly, who is in his 50s, is the store officer in the school, was earlier suspended by the school’s management and evicted from his residence in the staff quarters over the alleged rape of a 16-year-old SSS 3 student,” the commissioner referenced this paper’s report.
Nathaniel Ikyur, Mr Ortom’s Chief Press Secretary, in a telephone interview with this reporter on Tuesday, also confirmed the governor’s directive on the matter.
The Federal Ministry of Education launched an inquiry into the matter following a letter by PREMIUM TIMES after several months of speaking with co-staff and alleged victims of Mr Esly’s sexual molestation.
FSTC Otukpo is one of the 104 unity schools established by the Nigerian government towards fostering national unity and cohesion amongst the numerous ethnic nationalities of the country.
The school’s management had suspended Ernest Esly, who is in his 50s, and evicted him from his residence in the staff quarters over the alleged rape of the SSS 3 student.
Some female students had in March reported that the girl (name withheld) sneaked out of the hostel at night and was seen being dropped the following morning by Mr Esly. They suspected she was into a sexual relationship with the store officer and that she had passed the night with him at his official quarters.
According to one of the teachers, following the report, the school asked its disciplinary committee headed by the vice principal in charge of administration, identified simply as Mrs Agbor, to look into the matter.
Based on the findings of the disciplinary committee, Mr Esly was evicted from the college’s staff quarters and suspended.
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