The management of Queens College, Lagos, has thrown its weight behind one of its teachers accused of sexually assaulting a female student.
Olaseni Oshifala, a Biology teacher, was purportedly accused by a parent, Chinenye Okoye, of forcefully trying to kiss and touch the private parts of her daughter, a JSS 2 pupil.
According to Mrs. Okoye, the teacher cornered her daughter on her way back from relieving herself just before lights out and assaulted her.
“She started screaming and then students started coming out so he left her and pretended to punish her,” she added.
The claims went viral on social media last weekend forcing the college alumni to convene an emergency meeting on Sunday.
In a statement issued by the school after the meeting, Lami Amodu, the Principal, said the claims was an attempt to ridicule, not just Mr Olaseni, but the “hard-earned reputation” of Queens College.
“When I resumed work as principal here, I was told of a certain matron who housed a person that had attempted to have an affair with a student,” Mrs. Amodu began.
“I was not here when it happened but as soon as I was told, I made sure that the matron was moved out of the school premises. I have zero tolerance for such behaviour. I have a daughter who schools here, even before I began work here. I will not take chances.
“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. They would tell their parents or relations, if anyone was molesting them here. No parent would take such news lightly.
“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.”
Mrs. Amodu said before her resumption at Queens College, a former principal of Kings College, Dele Olapeju, had recommended Mr. Oshilafa as a credible person to work with.
“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,” she said.
“I have investigated and we are not relenting in our determination to get to the bottom of this case. The man in question has been of impeccable character and committed service since I resumed work here. I can vouch for him.
“When I resumed work here, I was told a few unsavoury things about him. But investigations showed that each time a new principal resumed at Queens College, these allegations popped up. They would tell every new principal that Mr Olaseni is a molester. But after investigations, nothing concrete came up. My predecessor, whom we just sent forth today, told me the same thing. So it has been a recurring decimal, these allegations.”
Mrs. Amodu said there was a campaign of calumny against Mr. Osifala who happens to be “the best teacher in our school.”
“During World Teachers’ Day, he bagged five awards. The students all have good things to say about him. Somebody somewhere is up to some mischief and we will uncover this unfortunate drama,” the school principal said.
“We place a premium on the security and welfare of our girls. We are all mothers. We will not allow any staff to endanger girls in this school.”
The Chairperson of the school’s Parents-Teachers Association, B.E Akhetuamen, also said the claims were an attempt to pull down Mr. Oshifala.
“I have two daughters schooling here,” she said.
“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.”
Mrs. Akhetuamen said if such a thing had happened, the students themselves would have given the matter leverage.
“It would not have needed a blogger to break the story,” she said.
“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.”
On claims that Mr. Oshifala assaulted the student near the boarding house, D. A Oludinmu, the Senior Boarding House Mistress at the school, admitted Mr. Osifala comes around the hostel because he is the Hostel Maintenance Officer.
“But there is a procedure for that,” she noted.
“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.”
The school’s head girl said no male staff lives within the school compound.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
The man at the centre of the storm, Mr. Osifala, said there’s no truth in the entire incident.
“I have been accused falsely. Students have openly confessed to being recruited to frame me up in the past,” he said.
“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 whoade up their minds to judge me. Let God take control.”