The trial of the Deeper Life High School sexual abuse case commenced today, Wednesday in Uyo, with the magistrate court holding its proceedings under closed-door.
Two students of the school, both of them 13 years old, accused of sexually molesting a fellow student, an 11-year-old boy, are being prosecuted by the police.
Five officials of the school, including a suspended principal, are also on trial.
An official, said to be the court registrar, asked people, including lawyers, who were not parties in the case, to leave the courtroom before the proceedings began.
Reporters were asked to leave too, as a court official began closing the doors and windows in the courtroom.
A lawyer, who was not part of the case, explained to people, mostly reporters, that it was necessary to hold the court proceedings under closed-door because minors were involved.
By 10:30 a.m., the victim of the alleged abuse was seen stepping out of the courtroom, accompanied by his dad, Iniobong Archibong, while the proceeding was going on.
“His mother is about to give her testimony, that is why we have been asked to stay outside,” Mr Archibong told PREMIUM TIMES.
The victim, a JSS1 student of the Deeper Life School, was alleged to have been sexually molested between October and December inside the school dormitory by the two senior students when he was switched from his dormitory to another that was filled with senior students.
“They will remove his boxer and push their legs and hands into his anus,” the victim’s mother, Deborah Archibong, had said in a video she posted on Facebook.
“Look at a child I sent to school, he came back with a broken anus,” she added.
However, the accused students all pleaded not guilty.
The case has attracted huge public interest, owing largely to a social media campaign by the victim’s mum.
But she has since ceased her regular updates on Facebook after she was cautioned by the Chief Magistrate, Winifred Umohandy.
The Deeper Life High School is owned by a Pentecostal church, The Deeper Christian Life Ministry.
“We will like to state that Deeper Life High School stands on the core values of integrity and uprightness and will not attempt to cover up any immoral act under any guise,” Thelma Malaka, the school’s education secretary, who spoke through a video uploaded on Twitter, said of the sexual abuse allegation.
“We have unflinching confidence in our God to resolve the issue such that at the end the truth will ultimately prevail,” she said.