Barely nine months into his stay at the Command Secondary School, Ibadan, Oyo State, an 11-year-old pupil, Israel Dada, is down with illness after alleged serial torture in the hands of senior pupils of the school.
The Junior Secondary School 1 pupil and his fellow pupils were said to have been subjected to a series torture by the senior pupils. It was learnt that each time they were punished by the senior pupils, they would be threatened with stiffer punishment if the torture was reported to the school authorities and their parents.
PUNCH Metro gathered that matter came to a head on Friday, June 23, when Israel’s father was called on the telephone to come and pick his ailing son.
Hitherto chubby Israel was said to have grown lean and had to be rushed to a hospital, where he was admitted and given medication.
Israel explained that three days before he fell sick, one Stephen, his hostel mate, who was in SSS I, had complained about a missing wristwatch and summoned all the junior pupils, including him.
The victim said Stephen flogged them when he could not find the wristwatch on time.
He said, “Senior Stephen flogged us seriously and vowed to beat us more if we reported to the school management. He later found the wristwatch. Apart from him, other senior pupils, usually beat us. At times they would punish us because we didn’t greet them.”
The father, Olushola Dada, said apart from the illness, he had observed that his son was depressed, but he tried in vain to elicit what was wrong with him until he returned from the hospital on Saturday.
He said, “I learnt that senior pupils usually bully the junior ones in the school, but I was not worried because my son never told me. That Friday, the school called, saying my son was ill and was not responding to treatment. I was asked to come and pick him.
“I took him to our family hospital. He was given medication. When he was admitted to the school in October, he was plump; I was worried about what could have made him to lose weight so fast.
“The following day, he removed his clothes and was going to take a bath when his mother saw scars on his back. He was beaten up as if he was a thief. After pestering him, he said it was senior pupils that usually beat him and other junior pupils. He specifically mentioned Stephen. How will a pupil learn in this kind of situation? Is it a crime for pupils to be in a boarding school?”
Israel’s mother, Olasunkanmi Dada, said she was furious when she saw the scars, adding that the matter had been formally reported to the school management.
The Vice Principal of the school, Mr. James Olatunde, who confirmed the torture, said Stephen had been punished and sent to a ‘guardroom’ to serve as a deterrent to other senior pupils.
He said, “We are aware of the incident. The pupil is already in the ‘guardroom’ and by Monday (today), he is going home on suspension. He had been given some strokes of the cane on the assembly ground so that others will learn.
“We are appealing to the parents that such a thing would not happen again. We have counselled all the senior pupils and told them to take the junior pupils as their brothers. If you see the way soldiers punish these senior pupils, you will pity them. Despite this, we still have some who behave badly. We are going to stop such behaviour.”