School Bullying: Abuja school shut, victim may sue

Lead British International School Abuja, which has been in the eye of the storm over viral videos of bullying involving some of its students, has been shut for three days.

The shutdown order was issued on Tuesday by the Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye.

The Public Relations Officer of the FCT Education Secretariat, Kabiru Musa, confirmed that the school had been shut down by the minister.

“Yes, it was shut down by the honourable Minister of Women Affairs for 3 days,” Musa in response to a Whatsapp message by one of our correspondents.

A staff member of the school, whose name could not be ascertained as of press time, had earlier announced the shutdown of the school by the minister.

An X user, @moooyeeeee, had on Monday night posted two videos of a female student of the school being repeatedly slapped by another female classmate.

The user called for justice for the victim. Since they were posted, the videos have drawn the wrath of many users of the microblogging platform, who condemned the incident and called for the school authorities to investigate and punish the culprits.

A third video depicting a separate case of bullying at the Lead British International School, Abuja emerged on Tuesday.

In the new video posted on Tuesday, some male students in the school’s uniform are seen surrounding another boy who appears to be in casual attire.

A student slapped the boy, who was on his knees, and then some of the other boys who were gathered appealed to stop the ‘bully’ from further harming the boy, who was later whisked away in the nine-second video.

An X user, @PopoolaJoke4, who posted the video wrote, “No be the same school?”, in response to the first viral video of bullying in the same school that was released earlier.

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In one of the videos of the minister’s visit, the representative of the school was heard saying, “By the request of the Minister of Women Affairs, we are Nigerians who respect rules and regulations and we are under the law because our school is actually recognised and our school is under the Federal Capital Territory, and we are registered and based on that, Lead British International School, Abuja is hereby shut for three days.”

As of the time of filing this report, our correspondent could not ascertain whether the FCTA would use the occasion to investigate other private schools in which alleged cases of bullying take place in the FCT.

Victim threatens lawsuit

Namtira Bwala, the student assaulted by her fellow students at Lead British International School, has written the school management, demanding a thorough investigation and heavy sanctions for the 11 students who bullied her.

Two of the bullies were identified tobe Maryam Hassan and a certain Faliya.

Bwala, in a letter addressed to the management of her school through her lawyers at the Deji Adeyanju and Partners Law Firm, gave the school an ultimatum of 48 hours after which she will seek legal redress.

A copy of the letter obtained by The newsmen read, “Our client and several other parents in Lead British International School have informed us and we verily believe them that this act of bullying is a reoccurring issue in the school, and despite several attempts to draw the school’s attention to it, the issue has persisted, leaving our client traumatised from the emotional and physical effect of the oppressive acts by these daredevil bullies.

“Our client completely dissociates herself from the statement issued by the school on April 22, 2024, wherein a case of battery was unconscionably referred to as an ‘incident between minors’.

“Sequel to the foregoing, we have our client’s instruction to demand an immediate investigation and the pronouncement of the stiffest possible sanctions in the student’s rule book on Ms. Maryam Hassan, Miss Faliya and nine other students who have formed a cult of bullies in Lead British International School, Gwarimpa, Abuja.

“Please note that if the school fails to sanction the student bullies within 48 hours of the receipt of this letter, we have our client’s further instruction to seek an immediate and severe legal redress against Lead British International School, Gwarimpa, without further recourse to you.”

Police launch probe

Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory Police Command also announced the deployment of its officers to Lead British International School, in a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer, Josephine Adeh, in a statement on Tuesday.

She said the move was a proactive response to alarms raised by members of the public regarding videos circulating on social media, depicting the bullying of students at the school, stating that the police were on top of the situation and that investigations were ongoing.

Adeh said, “The FCT Police Command is on top of the situation and has deployed seasoned officers to the school premises for investigations and to forestall any possible breakdown of law and order.”

Similarly, the school’s management, in a statement, also said it had begun an investigation into the matter.

Alleged perpetrator apologises

Meanwhile, Maryam Hassan, the student of the LBIS, who was caught on camera bullying her fellow student, Namtira Bwala, has apologised to her classmate over the incident.

Hassan, in a video obtained by our correspondent in Abuja, expressed her “sincere apologies,” adding that she wished the whole episode had not happened.

Speaking in the video, Hassan said, “I am very sorry for what I did to Namtira. I am also apologising to you all out there. I am sincerely sorry. I wish it never happened.”

In a statement signed by the Head of the School, Abraham Ogunkanmbi, the school said it had appointed a dedicated team to conduct a ‘thorough inquiry’ into the matter.

He said the team was currently gathering information, including the review of the video footage and interviews with witnesses, to understand the full scope of the incident and identify the immediate and remote causes.

According to the statement, the school has also reached out to the families of both the perpetrators and the victims to offer them counselling and disciplinary measures as appropriate.

“We have also immediately initiated an investigation, appointing a dedicated team to conduct a thorough inquiry into the matter. The team has been gathering information, including reviewing video footage and interviewing witnesses, to understand the full scope of the incident and identify the immediate and remote causes,” the statement posted on LBIS, Abuja Instagram’s page read.

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