“Proprietress gave my daughter 40 lashes” – Businessman
A businessman from Edo State, Eromosele Oribhabor, tells ALEXANDER OKERE how his nine-year-old daughter was allegedly left traumatised after she was whipped 40 times by her proprietress on the allegation that she stole N1,000 from a teacher at her school in Delta State
You claimed that your nine-year-old daughter was given 40 strokes of the cane by the proprietress of her school over alleged missing money. Can you explain how it happened?
I have two children and they both attend Cherish Montessori Cambridge Academy in Warri. Gina, my eldest daughter, who was flogged, is in Grade Five, while her younger one is in Grade Four.
The incident happened on Thursday (January 26, 2023). My children do not live with us; they live with my wife’s elder sister; so, we found out (about the incident) on Saturday night.
My wife told me that our eldest daughter was given 40 strokes of the cane and that she was accused of stealing. I felt the proprietress should have called me since she had my phone number. So, I was angry.
I called the proprietress. She concluded that our daughter wasn’t flogged because of the missing money but because her classmates told her and she (our daughter) used to bring money, sometimes, N1,000, N1,500, or N900 to school. So, she concluded that my daughter stole the missing money. She was not caught with the missing money.
How much was missing?
According to her (proprietress), N1,000 belonging to her class teacher was missing.
How did you confirm that your daughter received 40 strokes of the cane?
She told me. Her younger sister even told me that Gina received more than 40 strokes. She has not been flogged like that before. But when I went to her school to pick her up three weeks ago, Gina led a protest with about six other pupils against her teacher and accused the teacher of maltreating them.
In fact, when my daughter saw me, she told me she wanted to leave the school. After the protest, my daughter complained that the teacher had been giving her attitude. She said the teacher often condemned her classwork or artwork.
There was a time I bought two pieces of cardboard for my daughter’s artwork. My daughter told me that her teacher condemned her work and made her draw three times as a way of punishing her.
Is her teacher a male or a female?
Did you see any marks on your child’s body that showed that she was flogged?
My daughter was flogged on Thursday but she did not report to us because she was passing through trauma. When we gave her food, she refused to eat or talk to anybody. When she was sent on errands, she spent hours before returning home.
She was flogged on the back of her thighs. She is still a child and they (children) heal fast, so the marks are faint. My daughter felt depressed and confused. She has told me that she doesn’t want to return to that school.
Did you confront the proprietress about it?
We went to the school on Monday and asked her why she flogged Gina. She said she thought Gina had been stealing. When I asked her how (she knew that), she said all she knew was that Gina had been stealing and having been a teacher for many years, she could tell when a child was lying and that the only way to discipline them was to flog them.
She said she flogged my daughter that way to discipline her and beat the habit out of her. We were talking to her when she took a cane and threatened to flog me and my wife. She called me the father of a thief and that we were all thieves. She ordered us to leave the school.
She should have called to inform me about what they alleged that my daughter did. And as a father, I know how to handle it. If my daughter actually stole that money, I will discipline her or give the proprietress the authority to deal with her because I cannot breed a thief. I don’t think any offence should attract such a punishment for a nine-year-old girl.
You mentioned that your daughter’s classmates said she had been seen with some sums of money in the past. Where did she get the money?
I give my daughters money. They are children; they need to buy things. I don’t think giving them N500 or N1,000 is too much.
What other steps did you take when you left the school?
When we left the school, we went straight to a police station to lodge a complaint. The police were not happy about it. I thought they would arrest her but they said they would invite her and hear her side of the story before making a decision.
I don’t want the matter swept under the carpet. I am not fighting for my child only, someone else complained about the school. A woman told me that one of the teachers flogged her son, so she went to a market, bought two canes, and used them to flog the teacher.
So, it looks like it is a habit in that school. I want the woman to prove that my daughter is a thief. There were people around when she called me the father of a thief and when she was flogging my daughter on the assembly ground, people were present, so they must have spread the news that Gina is a thief.
One of the parents told her child not to go close to Gina because she is a thief. You can just imagine! So, she (the proprietress) will have to clear my daughter’s name. When Gina is walking on the road, someone could point at her and say, “That is the girl that was flogged; she is the thief”.
A nine-year-old girl will have to grow with that stigma. People may even point at me and say the proprietress wanted to flog us because we are thieves. The woman will not only have to clear Gina’s name, but she will also have to clear my name.
Did you complain to the Ministry of Education?
Yes. The officials told us to allow them to handle the matter. I told them that I was advised by a human rights lawyer to report the matter to them so that they could do their investigation.
When the police invited her, she was begging us to forgive her but we were told to return to the police station the next Wednesday (February 8, 2023).