Ankazobe Following the uproar over the story of Don David Archibong, a Junior Secondary School 1 student at Deeper Life High School in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, SaharaReporters conducted a survey – with the help of 20 people – to gather accounts from people who attended boys-only boarding schools in Nigeria. The results uncovered heinous tales of sodomy, different forms of attacks, and systematic neglect.
Respondents who have previously attended boarding schools tell their sad stories in this article.
Eze Edwin, a student at St. John Bosco College in Doma, Nasarawa State, explained how he was forced to engage in homosexual conduct, which was normal in the hostels before he chose to quit the school later.
“St. John Bosco College, Doma, Nasarawa State, I quit in my first year due to the high rate of homosexuality in the hostels. They tried to force me but with the help of God, I escaped. Today, those seniors who practiced it are doomed, and they need help.”
In the same vein, Kingsley, a student of Federal Government College, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, between 2004 and 2010, shares his own experience, saying, “It all started sometime in 2004 when we were still new as JSS1 students, very young and naive. Generally, we were bullied by our seniors and even mates who were quite older. So, on one night when I couldn’t go for night prep (which was an offense), one of the bullies caught me in the dormitory and after much beating, he forced me to suck his manhood which I really did not want to do initially but I was beaten and threatened some more till I had no other option but to give in. That was really when the mental trauma set in. That practice wasn’t new in the school because we had always heard of similar things from fellow mates and even seniors.
“Fast forward to 2005-2006 when a certain senior would always creep into my bed at night and try to forcibly penetrate me but in this other case, I always ran away to either sleep in the dining hall or a different hostel.”
The story of Ibrahim, a former student of Anwar-Ul Islam College Agege, in Lagos also evokes pity.
“I was a victim of male molestation at Anwar-Ul Islam Model College, Agege, which is a boarding school. I was in JSS2 at the time. It was a Muslim school although they admitted non-Muslims too.
“Mine wasn’t a severe case of molestation but more of a case of inappropriate groping. It happened in the hostel then when a senior in SS3 approached me. I was in my friend’s dormitory that evening and he came into the dorm-like he normally did; I can’t remember why. I was on my friend’s bed on the top bunk.
“I greeted him as he entered and then he was talking to other people in the dorm at the time. Then after a while, he came towards where I lay down and slipped his hands into my shorts and started to touch me inappropriately for a couple of seconds before I shifted so he couldn’t continue.”
Another ex-student of General Murtala Mohammed College Yola, Adamawa State, narrated his experience at the school in 2003.
“I only did a single term and refused to return there. I went for December break and never returned that same year – 2003. I was in Senior Secondary School 1. We were kept in a hostel named Alkalawa house, room 9. There were some seniors who usually went out of the campus to drink alcohol and returned late at night, around 11 pm or even 12am. Then they forced us, the junior students, to suck their manhood.
According to him, there was no housemaster to check the activities of students in hostels at the time so that task was entrusted to senior students – the alleged molesters.
He said there was a time they reported the abuses to the school principal and they regretted the action.
“That very day, we were almost beaten to death. The seniors gave each of us not less than 24 strokes of the cane,” he said.
“Our seniors took any money in our possession. Anyone that gave the highest amount would be spared from some punishments. My dad was dead and it was my uncle that took me to the school. I came home, I complained that I was not going back to the school because of what had been happening to me, but he insisted that I must return and that I was lying. I reported to my mum. My mum supported me, and my uncle sent us parking. I was then enrolled in a government day secondary school in the village with the help of our pastor,” he said.
The respondent said he suspected his uncle sent the bullies to him.
If Haroon Muhammad could have his way, he would not hesitate to scrap boarding schools across the country. His reason: many of them have become havens for immoralities and abuses of various kinds.
“I don’t know why parents don’t visit schools even at night to supervise and even to do the visitation secretly without the management’s consent because that would help them expose the ills prevalent in such schools,” he noted.
Many who have been to boarding schools would probably support Muhammad’s view.
Ebuka Mmadu is a quintessential example of such people.
“I was into homosexuality before because of boarding school but thank God that I am free from that evil act,” he said.
A respondent, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also shared his horrible experience as a boarding school student. He described it as a bitter-sweet experience.
“I was forced to give a guy French kiss for three minutes while the senior and his friends stood there and watched,” he said.
Another man who attended a boarding school as a child, said, “I was sleeping at night when a guy tried to penetrate me on my bed, I woke up and fought him. He pinned my chest down and he was going to insert his manhood into my anus, I just screamed and begged him not to do it. He dry-humped his manhood on my boxers and ejaculated on me.”
As perpetrators take advantage of the darkness, a respondent who could not tell what actually happened to him, said, “I believe I was sexually harassed.”
Another respondent said, “I had some horrible experiences during my secondary school days. I was made to suck a guy’s dick just to avoid constant bullying. There were also nights when seniors would always try to put their dick in my anus but I never let that happen, I always struggled and ran away from my bunk space to sometimes sleep in the dining hall to avoid such predators.”
Another victim said he developed the silence culture as victims get bullied by perpetrators to discourage them from speaking up. He also condemned the leniency of the school authority when handling such cases. “We were always bullied against reporting, even those that had the mind to report, nothing serious happens and you the victim gets to be bullied the more for reporting your senior. These are things that happened on a regular basis when we were in school.”
“A lot of gay reverends and auxiliary seminarians coming out from that institution. I even had to quit Catholicism because of that. And if an auxiliary seminarian sees that they can’t get to you, you become a target to flog daily,” one of the respondents who attended a Catholic school submitted.
For Timi (not real name), the act of molestation was not initiated by a senior student but a trusted fellow — a teacher. He said, “One of my teachers (MacDonald Chimaobi Ananywu) invited me into his room one day. I didn’t suspect a thing. Also, I wasn’t even aware that he was gay. He gave me porn to watch. During the process, he pulled down my trousers and started sucking my dick and later on inserted his manhood in my anus till I told him it hurt. He pulled out, but I had already had my first cum at 13.
“He warned me to never tell anyone, which I haven’t told anyone, including my mum. In Senior Secondary School 2, I heard he was sacked for doing the same thing to another person. It was not until I graduated from the school that I realised what he had done to me, and I will never forgive him.”
Another respondent, who also did not want his name mentioned, narrated how he was “molested several times by more than three male senior students”.
“They said I was handsome and saw me as a weakling as well. Compulsory laying down and sliding of the penis around and inside the anus,” he said.
Also, a former Ar Rayyān student of Government Science Secondary School, Karo, Nasarawa State, said he was enrolled in the school in 2010 and was sexually molested during the “lights out”. He said, “I was sexually molested at school during the night. I was already asleep and so was every other person. I just noticed that my bed was shaking and I was also shaking, I didn’t even understand what was happening. I woke up, everywhere was dark but I felt a sharp pain in my anus, someone was molesting me. I was 16 years old already but the person was big but I managed to grab him. It was difficult because the person was not even wearing any clothes, he was stark Dedham naked. He overpowered me. I cried that night because I didn’t know who did it.
“In the morning, I told the seniors and they said they knew nothing about it but I suspected one of them. I reported to the seniors but they didn’t do anything about it and I was helpless because we didn’t have house masters who slept in the hostel with us. They didn’t have anywhere to stay, so they went to their houses.”
When asked if he informed the principal or vice-principal, he said he was too ashamed to tell anyone about it.
“I couldn’t report to the school authority because it’s a very shameful thing. How will I tell them someone inserted his penis in my anus? I thought they would laugh at me. To date, my family doesn’t know what happened. It was only those seniors I spoke with,” he said.
He described sexual molestation as a norm in the school, saying, “When I was in SS3, a Junior Secondary School 2 pupil of that school had that experience. I came into the hostel, saw the boy crying, and asked him what the problem was. When he told me what had happened, I just resolved that it had become a part of the school.”
Many Nigerians who attended boarding schools are grappling with how to overcome the ugly memories of horrible things they were once subjected to.
Endless nightmares for Nigerian male boarding school students
Understanding why any parent would choose boarding over day schools for their wards remains a puzzle to Amadi Felix Chinondu. For him, it is something borne of sheer ignorance of most parents. His position was influenced by his experience, however. He recalled how he was tortured for years during his stay at Archdeacon Dennis Foundation International Boys’ Secondary School, Egbu in Owerri, Imo State.
“I attended a boarding school years ago and it’s just the worst place to send your kids. Parents ignorantly feel it’s the best place for their kids but it’s not. In the boarding school, you would experience different forms of mental and physical torture from teachers and senior students. I attended Archdeacons Dennis Secondary School, Egbu, Owerri.
“What actually happened at the school owned by Deeper Life is also happening in almost all the boys boarding secondary school if not in all of them in Nigeria,” he said.
Udoka Prince was made to endure a horrible time at Government College Umuahia, (GCU) Abia State.
He said, “Boarding schools, especially for boys only are torment houses. I had a very traumatic experience at Government College Umuahia (GCU). Why do parents even consider leaving their children at the mercy of other teenagers?”
Austine Arinze Chukwu, who was also once a boarding student, said: “The brutality I experienced in the hands of senior students was a nightmare for me. At some point, I had to run away from the school. I returned after the principal promised to look into my matter. But they didn’t do anything eventually. They were only interested in the school fees. The poor feeding was also one of my greatest pains. The only good news about the school is that 11 years later, it stopped existing.”
On his part, Dele Emmanuel described his experience at boarding school situated in Borno in the northern part of the country as an “absolute horror.”
“I initially attended an all-male boarding school somewhere in Borno State in the early eighties. As junior students, we were subjected to all kinds of unimaginable maltreatment. I deliberately would not say anything in graphical terms about the maltreatment. I wouldn’t allow my children to attend boarding school based on my own personal experience,” he said.
Ebuka Okafor, who also previously attended a boarding school, could not contain his anger at the state of most Nigerian boarding schools, particularly the ones strictly for males, as he bore lurid details of his experience.
“It’s very bad,” he said. “I think boarding school is second to prison. My school cook mostly divided the foodstuffs into three – prepared one for students then stole the remaining two. And they didn’t even hide it. There were high immoral activities, despite it being a seminary school. Security was poor and there were no windows in most of the hostels and classes. Maltreatment was in high order, mostly by the senior students. The only benefits there had to do with the high level of teaching and how to get rough and tough. I won’t advise any parents to enroll their kids in a boarding school. The place is like a prison.”
Like the case of Archibong, a Junior Secondary School 1 pupil of Deeper Life High School, Uyo, Akwa Ibom, whose mother, Deborah Okezie, alleged was sexually molested and starved in the school, a father also told SaharaReporters that his son was sexually molested at Mayflower Primary School, Ikenne.
The distraught father said he was able to get hospital confirmation that someone raped his son.
“He was enrolled in a boarding school, Mayflower, Ikenne and he came back with a bruised anus. How old is he for crying out loud? I had to withdraw him from the school instantly,” the father said.