- I was only 13 when he asked me to take a bath with him – Deborah
- I was psychologically affected for refusing to sleep with him – Mary
- They’re only being used against me – Director
A leading orphanage, Stephen Centre International School/Home, Abeokuta, Ogun State, is currently in the eye of the storm. Its Director, Rev. Isaac Oluwole Newton-Wusu, is at the centre of allegations of sexual abuses being made by some former students of the school.
These former students of the school have summoned the courage to speak out on their experiences of sexual abuse and harassment at the hands of Newton-Wusu while their stay at the centre lasted.
The ex-students, who are orphans, said they were groomed by a man, who later sexually assaulted, raped and abused them at will.
The female students and their male colleagues at the school are victims of internal displacement and other ethno-religious crises, including the Boko Haram insurgency and other violent crises in the Northern part of the country, such as the Kano, Kaduna and Jos violence.
He called me one day from the hostel that I should go and take a bath. I told him that I had already bathed. But he insisted that I should go; that he had already got water for me. So, when I entered the bathroom, he came in and he said we should bath together
The school located at 1, Iyana-Aregbe in Obantoko, Abeokuta, Ogun State, was established in the year 2000 with funds from donors from the United States of America, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada and Poland.
Having bottled their emotions and endured the pains for so many years, some of the distraught former students under the aegis of Concerned Past Students of the Stephen International Centre School/Home alleged that apart from sexually assaulting them, the director was fond of exploiting both local and international donors, hiding under the guise of taking care of the welfare of the students, who claimed to have received little or no benefits from the largesse from the international bodies.
The old students, who further alleged that they were forced into child labour by the director while they were in the school, also claimed that no fewer than six of their colleagues in the orphanage died due to negligence and poor health facilities provided by the management.
They claimed that the only drugs they were usually given whenever any student fell ill was paracetamol.
Narrating her ordeal while at the school, an ex-female student, Deborah Bala, alleged that Newton-Wusu, popularly called Big Uncle by the students, drugged her on several occasions before raping her.
She added that she was only 13 years old and in JSS 3 at the school when the director started having sex with her. She said he called her one day and lured her into the bathroom, where they both had a bath and since then, he would always have sex with her.
Bala alleged, “I was 13; it started in JSS3, before I left the school in SS1 because I was kind of frustrated. At first, I never thought of that. It was when growing up I realised definitely he’s doing it. That is what he used to do, because I was not the only person. If he sees you are younger, he would drug you and do what he wanted to do to you.
“He called me one day from the hostel that I should go and take a bath. I told him that I had already bathed. But he insisted that I should go; that he had already got water for me. So, when I entered the bathroom, he came in and he said we should bath together. I was seeing him as a dad. I accepted and we had the bath together. After that, I don’t know what happened, I became unconscious. What I remember was that he woke me up around six or seven in the morning and said that I should go to the hostel; that it was already late. So, when I went I noticed I was kind of wet. My paint was really wet. So, I did not think twice; I just went straight and wash it and looked for food to eat.
“There was this day we went to Porto Novo, but before going, we went to the Lagos office. That is the main headquarters. So, when got there, he did not show anything. When we got to Porto Novo, he insisted I should sleep in his room. But I told him I was not feeling too well. He then said I should go and call one of the girls, which I did. So, from then, he would call me to come and whenever I did, the same thing that happened the other time would occur. I would be unconscious and something like that will keep on happening. I told his cousin what he did about the kissing stuff, and when she talked to him about it, he just changed and told most of the girls to stop talking to me.”
Similarly, another old student, Mary John, while explaining her plight at the hands of Newton-Wusu, alleged that the school’s director made her life hellish because of her refusal to have sex with the director.
John recalled, “I was 12 years old when I came to the school. Rev. Newton usually took some of the students to Lagos for weekend. But later, I started hearing from my friends that he was sleeping with them. He made several attempts to do that to me, but he did not succeed. But he made my life miserable in the hostel.
“He then decided to watch all my steps. I couldn’t have male friends. If I got close to anybody, they would tell him I was dating that person and then he would come down heavily on me in form of punishment. So, that was really affecting me psychologically and I was no longer able to focus on my studies. I became different from the others and I was not favoured by him.”
The National Coordinator of the old students of the school, Ado Nicodemus Baggibawa, who said his life was at risk for exposing the alleged sexual misconduct of the director with his underage students, said proper investigations should be conducted on the allegations of sexual abuse against Newton-Wusu.
He also demanded the “restructuring” of the school.
Baggibawa also called on the state and Federal Government as well as human rights organisations to urgently come to the rescue of innocent girls allegedly still being sexually abused by the director.
He said, “Proper investigation should be made. Let there be a restructuring of the school and necessary personnel that should manage the hostels should be in place for a proper academic performance and environment.
“We are depending on human rights societies, government, state and Federal Ministry of Education, police and the necessary personnel to come into this matter because our sisters are being abused.
“Some of our donors, after noticing this, came to investigate. But the same victims were used to deny the fact that this was happening. My sister, Deborah, was used and after all, he said ‘thank you for saving me, but nothing will change. I still hate you, because you didn’t give me what I demanded’. Let there be compensation for direct victims of these sexual abuses.”
When contacted on the phone, Newton-Wusu, who laughed hysterically when told the allegations made by the old students against him, said that the case was already in court.
He said that some people recruited and used the old students against him.
“That sounds like something. They are being recruited and being used. The fact is that the matter is in court, and I don’t like commenting on the issue that is in court. But what you are following is not authentic. You can quote them, but you can’t quote me because I will be held responsible for this,”
Culled from The Point