Protest was the disposition of the students of Ajuwon Senior High School, Ajuwon, Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State, after their school Principal, Rev. Olufunke Oladeojobi supposedly ordered that virginity test was conducted on them, having suspected promiscuity among some of the students. ?
The year was in 2012. Precisely December. It was distinguished that the Principal did not use scientific method, but her fingers, for the test. One of the students who did not give her name, but was in the Senior Secondary School 1, SSS1, vehemently indicted the Principal of using her fingers for the act.
But the Principal denied the assertion, saying that medical professionals were contracted to conduct the test on 10 students, only. It was all-the-same gathered that exercise book, was given to each of the students, after the virginity test exercise; perhaps, as remuneration.
Another student prosecuted the Principal that she requested that all the SSS1 female students marshaled out at the assembly ground. According to the student, the Principal made the announcement in their class.
At the assembly ground, where the students had pulled-together, she apparently asked that those, who were yet to lose their virginity, should stand separately. With the assistance of the staff, the Principal seemingly marched the students into her office.
The student also whispered that they were threatened in the office by the staff and the Principal that any of the students, who refused to partake in the exercise, would have her name written in the ?Black Book?. Hence, they were grouped into three groups: 10, 15 and 13.
One of the female students who did not give her name for fear that it would appear in print, said that the SSS1 students were over 500, of which about 280, were females, and the virgins among them were about 38.
After the virginity test, the Principal was purportedly boastful of finding out who the ?promiscuous students? were. Conversely, the parents of the students did not take the Principal?s deed, with a pinch of salt.
The principal was dragged to the police for not having sought for their consent, before ?forcing? their wards into her office, for virginity test. The Principal, who was known among her students as a rigorous disciplinarian, was later quizzed by the police.
But some moralists added their voices and, were of the view that the parents of the girls should be ashamed, for not bringing up their daughters self-effacingly. They said that morale mothers would want to send their daughters to such school that the Principal was regarded as a highly principled person, who didn?t want rot in her school, but wanted her students to graduate as virgins, not as wayward.
On December 19 2012, the Ogun State Government suspended the Principal, for gross infringement and abuse of the rights of the students, saying that she had no right to conduct such a test on her students.
The suspension of the Principal came after a panel that was set up to investigate the matter circled-in a first-round account and outcome, which pinpointed that the principal had no such right. The state Commissioner for Education, Mr. Segun Odubela confirmed the unpleasant incident, but reiterated that the Principal was not quickly suspended.
A fair hearing of 14 days was given to the Principal, according to Odubela; she was examined by a five-man panel consisting of officials of both the ministry and Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM), set up to advance investigation into the matter and recommend ways on how to handle the issue.
“It’s inappropriate to subject pupils to a virginity test. It’s a barbaric act that should not be tolerated or accepted. A broken hymen is no longer medically proven as evidence of sexual activities,? a sexual abuse specialist reportedly said.
?How can a principal deep her dirty fingers inside the private parts of her students without the consent of their parents? This is a sexual crime! Since when was a principal vested with the power to conduct virginity test in Nigeria?? said a public affairs analyst Ajayi Olu.
?This woman should be jailed; she went too far in her rights as a principal,? said Ehi Hum, a teacher.
?Ritual kind of a thing it sounds to me. Maybe, she is collecting whatever liquid there for ritual. Simply put, she should be expelled,? said somebody who would not want the name in print.
?This Principal must be a very idle one to have had the time to perform this despicable act at the expense of the schools? time,? said a woman who simply gave her name as Agnes. ?Unless this was part of the school curriculum as prescribed by the national body, the Principal needs to be relieved of her duty.?
By January 22, 2013, the Ogun State Government directed that a psychiatric test be conducted on the Principal. She was not only recommended for a compulsory psychiatric test, but, also, an evaluation submitted by a three-man board headed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Ambaliu Ishola, suggested that the Principal be demoted to grade level 15 from grade level 16.
Also, according to the evaluation, she should go back to the Teaching Service Commission, TESCOM headquarters, if given a sane-bill by the psychiatrist and, the two health workers who assisted the Principal in carrying out the virginity test should be passed-on to the Ministry of Health, for corrective action.
Findings are that while Odubela, and Chairman, Teaching Service Commission, TESCOM, Bukunola Onabanjo, were directed to meet with and address members of the Parents Teachers Association, PTA, staff and students of Ajuwon High School, the affected students were to be referred to the State General Hospital for appropriate medical check-up and counseling.
The medical test conducted to determine the mental state of the Principal came out and substantiated that she was sane and suffered no serious mental complaint. The state government had said the medical test on the teacher was essential to decide her mental state. Odubela stated the result of the medical test on Friday, February 22, 2013, which was conducted by Consultant Psychiatrist Timothy Olaolu Adebowale, Special Grade 1 with the Neuro Psychiatrist Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta.
?There was no evidence of impairment of reality testing, or gross personality defect, as she currently expresses realistic views on issues regarding the whole incident in her school and her referral for this assessment,? stated the Psychiatrist?s report as at?January 29, when the Principal was assessed.
?With these decisions, we have finally laid to rest the issue of Virginity Test in Ajuwon High School. The decisions addressed all the problems and all the affected persons. We hope we can all shift attention to the developmental projects that the state government is undertaking to provide affordable qualitative education for our people,? said the state Commissioner for Education.
Meanwhile, Odubela had said that the government was always concerned about the welfare and interest of the students and, therefore, would not tolerate any act that would compromise their fundamental rights or jeopardize their future.
?Government should offer free Condoms and Sex Education to our youths. That said, what the principal did is absolutely wrong and I suspect foul play. Could it be that she wanted to use them for ritual?? an analyst who gave his name as James said.
?We equally believe in the need to maintain discipline in our schools and to follow due process in the handling of this particular case. We appeal to the parents of the students involved to be patient and allow us to handle the case as dictated by the law of the land and service rules,” Odubela categorically explained.
Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.