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Court Orders School To Pay N25m To Student Who Became Blind After He Was Flogged For Not Paying School Fees


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Pupil Gets Closure After Six Years Of Court Case

Mrs. Uche Owen, the proprietress of Cendom International Nursery and Primary School, Olodi-Apapa, Lagos has been ordered by a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja to pay the sum of N25 million as damages to a 5-year-old pupil of the school, Destiny Kalu who became blind after he was flogged for not paying school fees.

Mrs Owen and Destiny’s class teacher, Miss Uduak Sam had been dragged before the court in 2013 by Inyima Kalu, Destiny’s father.

Miss Sam was accused of flogging and inflicting severe injuries to the child’s right eyes over non-payment of school fees.

Destiny in his claim, alleged that on June 20, 2011, Mrs Owen came to his classroom and flogged all the pupils that had not paid their school fees and thereafter also instructed their class teacher, Miss Uduak to flog them severely.

Destiny alleged his right eye was covered with blood as a result of cane injury inflicted on him by the teacher while been flogged.

He added that though he was in severe pains after the flogging, he was left unattended to in the school premises until after school hours when he was picked up at the school by his father after every staff of the school had abandoned him and gone home.

The student was then taken to Ajeromi General Hospital Lagos where he was treated and later referred to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) for advanced medical treatment.

At LUTH, after an unsuccessful surgical operation, the doctor’s report revealed that Destiny’s right eye was permanently damaged and cannot perceive light as a result of severe internal damage.

Destiny’s father then filed a case against the school and demanded N30 million as compensation.

Miss Uduak (the class teacher) in her statement to the Nigerian Police also admitted punishing the child by caning him on the instruction of the proprietor, Mrs Owen.

However, in her statement of defence, Uduak denied responsibility for the injuries sustained by Destiny, claiming he might have sustained the injury during a fight with another pupil in the school.

The proprietress also denied being responsible for the injuries sustained by Destiny.

Justice Yetunde Idowu, delivering judgment in the matter after six years of trial, held the two defendants liable for the permanent injury.

The judge added that the defendants neglected their duty of care to Destiny by flogging and inflicting injury on him, saying the caning for non-payment of fees is not only wrong, but illegal.

She said: “Caning a child for non-payment of fees is not only wrongful but illegal. It is trite and universally accepted that caning a child does not have positive effect. Flogging is an abuse of a child and domestic violence against a child. It should be discouraged completely as it is contrary to all known best practices and unacceptable.

“The child was under the custody of the 1st Defendant, in her school premises. The 1st and 2nd Defendants, the owner of the school and the class teacher owe a duty of care to the child. The duty of care was breached when the 2nd Defendant on the instruction of the 1st Defendant engaged in flogging the child.

“Vicarious liability basically means that employers are liable for the torts of their employees, committed during the course of employment. A tort is a wrongful act or an infringement of a right (other than under contract) leading to legal liability.

“Damages in the sum of N25 million is awarded in favour of the infant suing by the next of kin.”

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