A secondary school principal in Kitui west is fighting a losing battle to cover up a scandal where female students were administered contraceptives by pro abortion activists in his school compound last week.
Besides facing investigations by police and other agencies, the Marie Stopes scandal has in many ways embarrassed Mr Andrew Kwale, the principal of Archbishop Boniface Lele Mangelu before the eyes of the Ministry of Education and the Catholic Church.
Detectives are keen to establish whether Mr Kwale was compromised by Marie Stopes to facilitate their visit to his school to give the girls contraceptives and why he conveniently stayed away until their mission was accomplished on that Wednesday afternoon.
Questions are being raised how Marie Stopes, an organization that advocates women rights to have children by choice, visited the school and administered birth control pills to dozens of teenage girls without the consent of their parents.
The scandal has exposed him in two ways; one he violated the ban on school visits in third term imposed by Education CS Fred Matiang’i where not even parents are allowed to see their children.
Two, the scandal is a heavy slap in the face the Catholic Church that sponsors the school. The church is vehemently opposed to contraceptives and abortion but Marie Stopes were allowed to do it inside not just a Catholic school but one named after a late Archbishop.
Among the pills given to the young girls include Norplant, the hormone-carrying rod used to prevent pregnancy that is inserted under the skin, normally in the upper arm and which is effective for up to five years.
Investigations by KO revealed concerted efforts by Mr Kwale to intimidate the affected students and parents to recant their statements on what happened in a desperate bid to cover up the mess, that has put his own career in jeopardy.
Initially, the principal had admitted that 17 girls were found to have been given various forms of contraceptives but suddenly decided to use all means possible including bribing witnesses to get away with the scandal.
Last week, Mr Kwale said that some of the girls confessed to having been given birth control pills but it could not be immediately established what each student got.
“We launched investigations into the matter. So far we have established that Marie Stopes staff had private consultations with the 17 girls after the main lecture on reproductive health awareness” Mr Kwale said on telephone.
However, Mr Kwale has since changed his story. For instance on Saturday October 14, Mr Kwale convened a crisis Board of Management (BOM) meeting where one parent Cecilia Munanie Muusya and her daughter was summoned and reprimanded for leaking the scandal to the press.
The student Jacinta Temea, who is in Form 3 was forced to write apology letter before BOM members stating she was never inserted Norplant while her mother Cecilia who is the village administrator for Mutanda agreed to recant her interview with the press.
Unknown to Mr Kwale and the Board, they had struck a deal to cover up the scandal with the wrong person as Cecilia is not the real mother of the student, but only a step mom. He also thought the deal will easily go through because Muusya, Jacinta’s father works and stays in Iraq.
Matters got messier and embarrassing for the principal when Jacinta’s real mother is Felistus Mumbe who stays in Mombasa after separating with her husband some years ago, hit the roof after learning of the scheme to harass her daughter.
She protested that her daughter was forced to write apology letters denying that Marie Stopes did not visit their school and reprimanded for tarnishing the school image yet she was a victim of illegal and immoral activity.
“It is sad that nobody is concerned about the health and rights of the girls. Instead of pursuing the wrong doers they are now stigmatizing our innocent girls in the guise of protecting school image” Ms Mwelu said.
Father Julius Muthamba said the church was aware that the principal was intimidating students to change their original story and urged aggrieved parents to report to police.
“Let the parents also furnish us with any report of intimidation but I wish to assure the public that the students confessions are under our custody” the priest said.
Meanwhile, as the cover up is going on, an advocacy group has demanded the revocation of Marie Stopes license by the government over the scandal.
CitizenGO, presented a petition to Health cabinet secretary Cleopa Mailu demanding that the license of Marie Stopes be cancelled and their management held accountable for illegal abortion activities in the country.
In the petition signed by more than 3500 people, CitizenGO – an online community of active Kenyans who work together to defend and promote family rights accused Marie Stopes of running illegal abortion clinics in the country.
“We Kenyan citizens and parents angered by the activities of Marie Stopes hereby demand that their license be revoked and their management held accountable” reads the petition delivered to Dr Mailu’s office on Monday.