A 24-year-old teacher, Phillip Ebong, was arrested on Wednesday by the Gowon Estate Police Division, Akowonjo, Lagos, for allegedly victimising a 14-year-old pupil (name withheld) and banning her from attending his classes.
Ebong, who teaches Physics and Chemistry at the Dee Jewels International College, Gowon Estate, Egbeda, was arrested during school hours after a complaint was lodged at the police station by Spaces for Change, a non-governmental organisation on youth development, on behalf of the pupil and her guardian, Mrs. Theresa Amaechi.
A copy of the petition made available to PUNCH Metro revealed that Ebong began harassing the victim from the first day of her enrolment in the school in January 2013.
The petition read, “On repeated occasions, Ebong invited the victim to the staff room informing her of his desire to have an intimate relationship with her. Consequently, the victim became a regular visitor to the staff room during break periods.
“On such visits, he made sexual advances to her which often involved kissing and hugging. Several times, Ebong followed her home, waiting at the gate to avoid being seen by her guardian.”
The petition alleged that under much pressure from Ebong, the victim eventually invited the teacher to her guardians’ home while they were away.
Ebong was alleged to have cajoled her to expose her private part, after fondling her breasts and kissing her.
It was said the harassment became too persistent, that the victim allegedly earned the title, “Uncle Phillip’s wife,” among her classmates and friends.
Amaechi told PUNCH Metro, “The victim is a timid girl. I did not know the extent of the harassment she was facing until she opened up to me last Friday. Earlier, she had told me Ebong was asking her for a relationship and I told her to reject his advances. I thought it would stop at that.
“I was shocked when she told me last week that she was no longer interested in staying in the science class; she wanted to switch to the arts and when I asked why, she said it was because Ebong had banned her from his classes.
“Apparently, she had told him that I was aware that he had asked her for a sexual relationship. The revelation angered him. He even went as far as threatening that she would fail her examinations,”
As at the time of Ebong’s arrest, the school principal was said to be busy as the SSS III students were taking the WAEC examination.
However the school proprietor, identified as Mrs. Azubuike, who was alerted to the development, rushed down to the school. She said the victim never made a formal report to the school.
She said, “We don’t condone such acts here. Had we been informed on time, we would have taken appropriate action.”
When confronted, Ebong allegedly denied the accusation. He blamed the entire situation on his interest in his students’ success.
He said, “I am close to all my students; that is what I was taught in the College of Education that a teacher had to be friendly. I just took an interest in the victim because I noticed she was not taking her homework seriously. All this talk of my touching and kissing her, they are all lies. I admit going to her house but it was because I wanted to see her guardian.”
Executive Director of Spaces for Change, Mrs. Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, said Amaechi came to her with the case on the same day her ward confided in her.
She said, “We are prepared to seek legal redress in the court should the school and police fail to investigate this matter and exercise full disciplinary action against Ebong.
“Our investigation has also shown that there are other students currently being abused by this same Ebong.
“These acts of misconduct are not only indicative of poor supervision and negligence on the part of the school authorities, but also amount to continuing breeches of the victim’s fundamental human rights.”
As of press time, PUNCH Metro gathered that the police had obtained statements from the victim’s classmates and friends.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ngozi Braide, when contacted, said, “I will let you know when I have the full details.”