A student of Government Girls Arabic Secondary School Fago in Sandamu Local Government Area of Katsina State, Fatima Tasiâ€™u, has died after she was flogged by her Mathematics teacher, Abubakar Suleiman.
While narrating the incident that led to his daughterâ€™s death to Daily Trust, father of the deceased, Malam Tasiâ€™u Maikano who resides in Kofar Bai in Katsina town, said he was called by one of the vice principals of the school on February 13th to come to the school because his daughter wasnâ€™t feeling well. Maikano arranged with some relatives and embarked on the 2-hour journey to the school. On getting there, he was informed that Fatimaâ€™s health condition worsened when she fell down after an evening bath. They said she may have been hit by evil spirits.
The distraught father said on seeing his daughter, he shelved his earlier decision of taking her back to the state capital for medical care and drove straight to Daura General Hospital which was less than 15 minutes drive from the school. No sooner had they arrived, than the doctor on duty confirmed her dead.
Maikano called the vice principal to inform him of what had happened and took the long ride back to Katsina town to begin her funeral rights and burial the next day, February 14th. Four days after her burial, Maikano said he asked for his late daughterâ€™s school bag and books. While going through them, he came across a diary which the students refer to as â€˜slum bookâ€™ where they sometimes document their daily activities.
In the last page, the late Fatima had written in Hausa â€œAllah Sarki ranar Alhamis munzo firef akaci miyi lilin muka yi malam Abu sikitu ya bugimu har ya fasni ko ma goshi banda lafia ina masassara da ciwon baya kamar na mutuâ€ which translates in English as â€œGod is great. On Thursday at prep, we were asked to kneel down. Abu Sikiti beat us and I got wounded, Iâ€™m down with fever and my back aches like Iâ€™m dying.â€
â€œWhen I came across this note, I became confused and called the vice principal and told him about it. When I didnâ€™t hear from him after 15 minutes, I decided to go to the school with some of my relatives. He later called but I refused to pick it until we got to the school. On our way to the school, one of Fatimaâ€™s friends called me to find out how she was doing and I told her sheâ€™s dead. I heard her and the others burst into tears. I was shocked to learn that no one heard of her death.
â€œWhen we got to the school, I showed them what she recorded on her â€˜slum bookâ€™ and the principal later arranged some students who came and narrated that Fatima came out of the toilet, collapsed and fell sick thereafter. However, one of her classmates later told the gathering how the math teacher flogged them for not doing their homework, and when it got to Fatimaâ€™s turn, she begged not to be flogged on her back but hands.
â€œWhat annoyed me was the principal and the teacherâ€™s move to cover up what really happened. My family is pained because of that. Another thing was the school authority not doing enough during her sickness. Records show she wasnâ€™t even taken to the schoolâ€™s dispensary or Fago Town hospital or to Daura for proper medical attention.
â€œMore painful was their inability to come and condole with us during the funeral. The vice principal came four days after on his way to Dutsinma while the principal sent a message that she will come next week. Even her friends were not told sheâ€™s dead.â€
The family reported the matter to the state Ministry of Education and the teacher and school authorities were summoned. The embattled teacher Suleiman during the meeting admitted flogging all the students who did not do their home work.
â€œWhen I came to flog her, she told me that I can only flog her on her palms which I did. This is all I know.”
It was gathered that Suleiman, also known as Sikiti, was not a full-time teacher or casual staff but was engaged through a private arrangement by the principal of the school for a monthly stipend of N5,000.
Sources in the state’s Ministry of Education have been summoned while the said teacher has been queried for negligence.