UPDATED: Rights Commission launches probe into death of rape victim, Keren -Happuch

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said that it would investigate Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja over allegations that a boarding student, 14 year old Karen-Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher was raped in the school, condom allegedly left in her uterus by the rapist, which infected her with Sepsis and resulted in her death on the 22nd of June 2021.

Meanwhile, a press release made available to Newsdiaryonline says attempts by operatives of Department of State Security Service (DSS) “to abduct leader of the coalition of Gender Based Violence Responders, Lemmy Ughegbe in front the commission failed.”

The Executive Secretary of the commission, Barrister Tony Ojukwu made this disclosure of readiness to probe the Academy, immediately after receiving a petition from the coalition of Gender Based Violence Responders calling for a full scale investigation of the rape of Keren Happuch in order to fish out the rapist and bring him to justice.

Leader of coalition speaking with the media during the #Justice4Keren rally on 9th of July 2021 @ the Unity Fountain in Abuja. 

“I wish to thank the coalition for not taking laws into its hands and I assure you that the commission would investigate the content of the petition lodged by the coalition. We have seen and read about this case on social media. But your petition has come in and you have itemised the concerns. We shall look into it thoroughly”, Barrister Ojukwu said.

“You have done the right thing by not taking laws into your hands. We shall investigate your petition with a view to deciding whether or not to accede to the prayers contained therein”, he added.
He said “the commission takes matters like this very seriously and we must all continue to seek safe spaces for children as they go out in search of education in our schools.

Earlier, while submitting the petition, leader of the coalition, Lemmy Ughegbe said, “the coalition was determined to ensure that Keren-Happuch did not become another statistics in the data of victims of Child Sexual Abuse, whose death remained unaccounted for and the paedophile left to walk the streets free.”

“We have compelling testimonies of ex-students narrating how they were sexually abused at Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja. We have them naming some of the staff there who are paedophiles. We have evidence that the school management treats cases of sexual abuse with kid’s gloves and even covers them. It is our considered view that if the school management had put in place a – zero tolerance for any form of sexual abuse, the tide would have been stemmed and Keren-Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher would not have died in this gory way”, Ughegbe disclosed.

“The coalition is prepared to aid your investigation by making available to the commission some of the documents and audio tapes in its custody to help uncover the malfeasance in the school, which has gone unreported now”, he added.

In a related development, a press release said, operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) to abduct the coalition leader, Ughegbe failed following resistance by the Channels Television crew which insisted on video recording the exchanges between the Child and Gender Rights Advocate and the operatives.

This happened barely twenty- four hours after he had honoured the invitation of the Deputy Commissioner of Police FCT Command, Mr. Fom Pam Joseph whom he and the coalition had called out for unprofessionalism and bias in the handling of investigation of the rape and death of Keren-Happuch.

While speaking with Channels Television in front of the NHRC gate on the #Justice4Keren petition, a patrol jeep carrying four DSS Operatives and a two motorbikes arrived the scene and parked adjacent the commission’s gate.

After the interview, they attempted to take Ughegbe away, but he stood his ground, asking what his offense was while Kayla Megwa had instructed the cameraman to capture the unfolding event.

“I thank Kayla and the Channels Television crew for standing up to defend a citizen’s liberty. These operatives were definitely on illegal duty as there is no record at the DSS that I am wanted for any offense. And we all know that if there was an official order to those operatives, they would have defied the cameras to bundle me away”, Ughegbe stated.

He called on the Director General of the service to investigate and fish out those operatives who were on illegal duty to abduct him, saying that the service could not afford to keep such people in its fold.

The #Justice4Keren petition to the commission reads thus:

“We write this petition on behalf of a coalition of Gender Based Violence Responders and draw your attention to the following facts:

  1. On the 22nd day of June 2021, 14 year old Keren-Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher died.
  2. Keren-Happuch Aondodoo was a boarding student of Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja.
  3. Shortly before her death, she became seriously distressed in school on Wednesday, the 16th day of June 2021 with inability to walk without assistance of some of her friends, who helped her to class.
  4. Following a tip off to her mum that Keren was in distress, her mum, Miss Vivien Akpagher called the school several times unsuccessfully.
  5. Despite, Keren-Happuch’s increasing distress on the 16th day of June 2021, her she was forced to write a continuous assessment test in tears while crying and begging to be released to go home to her mum.
  6. On the 19th day of June, being an official call-weekend, Keren-Happuch called her mum begging that she comes to pick her as she was ill.
  7. Her mother, Mrs. Vivien Akpagher gets to Premiere Academy, Lugbe on the same day at about 1pm to pick her, but was refused access as the matron told her Keren-Happuch was well and currently writing her continuous assessment tests. The matron assured her that they were taking good care of her.
  8. Following assurances by the matron, she left without her daughter.
  9. However, while heading back home on the said 19th day of June, her mother received a call from a concerned staff of the school, telling her that her daughter was badly sick and seriously distressed.
  10. The caller told her mum, Mrs Vivien Akpagher to disregard claims made by the matron that Keren-Happuch was not sick, insisting that she was in dire straits and needed to be taken away from school.
  11. The caller told her to come to the gate and make a lot of noise to constitute a nuisance otherwise she would not be allowed to take her daughter home.
  12. Alarmed at this information, Mrs Vivien Akpagher returned to school around 2.30pm or thereabout, constituting a nuisance at the gate for the next three (3) hours or thereabout before she was finally allowed to take Keren-Happuch away for medicare.
  13. Three (3) days after her mum took her away, Keren-Happuch died in a hospital in Abuja on the 22nd day of June 2021.
  14. But, before Keren-Happuch’s death, the hospital discovered that she had been raped, condom left in her uterus, which had infected her and caused her sepsis, resulting in her demise.

Accordingly, the coalition prays for the following:

  1. That the National Human Rights Commission launches a full scale investigation to determine the circumstance, which led to the rape and eventual death of Keren-Happuch and fish out the culprit(s).
  2. That the panel investigates the complicity or otherwise of the board and management of Premiere Academy Lugbe in the rape of Keren-Happuch Akpagher.
  3. That the panel investigates whether or not the board and management of Premiere Academy tried to cover-up the facts and shield the perpetrator of this heinous crime.
  4. That the National Human Rights Commission launches a full scale investigation by constituting a panel of inquiry into allegations of endemic sexual abuses and molestation and sundry human rights abuses in Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja.

We assure the esteemed commission of that the coalition has evidence of varying forms of sexual abuse and molestation and sundry forms of human rights violation in Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja and will be ready to assist the commission with this investigation.”

Newsdiaryonline reports that the school also addressed journalists debunking allegations against the institution.The general public will therefore be waiting for the outcome ofthe rights commission’s probe with bated breath.