Lokichogio School back on its feet a year after horrendous attack

Emanuel Ekiru, a student who suffered gun wounds following the attack at their school recuperates at Lodwar County Referral Hospital. [Bakari Ang'ela/Standard]
A year and two months down the line, Lokichogio Mixed Secondary school has moved on after an attack that left six students and a school night guard dead.

The night attack on October 14, 2017, in which 18 students were seriously wounded, remains edged in the minds of the school’s 230 students.

A 30-year-old student from South Sudan, who had been suspended from the school over an indiscipline case, was suspected to be behind the bloodletting. The student would later be lynched by an irate mob at Kakuma town, 97km away.

The Saturday Standard established that two students who survived the harrowing shooting had their legs amputated while one had her hands amputated.

Rape

Abraham Lochere, the Sudanese student, together with an unknown number of Sudanese assailants, who attacked the school, also reportedly raped some girls before indiscriminately spraying students with bullets.

The school, located about 220km from Lodwar, Turkana County’s biggest town and headquarters, and less than 25km from the Kenya-South Sudan border, was earlier this year relocated seven kilometres away along the Lodwar-Lokichogio road, following the deadly attack, and learning has now fully resumed.

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The relocation has moved the school further from the Kenya-South Sudan border.

Some residents say even as learning resumed for students who narrowly escaped the bullets, those who sustained serious injuries are yet to return to school, and have not received counselling services.

But Turkana County Director of Education Pius Odhiambo says only one student who witnessed the attack is yet to return to school.

Mr Odhiambo says the school enrollment improved significantly, thanks to the relocation.

“The school had reached Form Two when the attack happened and it is now going to Form Four in 2019. This is a testimony that school community and residents are determined to see the institution grow,” he says.

He says the badly injured students will be enrolled in any school of their choice as soon as they recover.

Trauma is palpable on the face of Emmanuel Ekiru Ekutan, a Form Two student whose right leg was amputated following the attack.

Ekutan remembers vividly how the attackers, believed to be members of a militia from the Toposa tribe in South Sudan, wreaked havoc in an ordeal that left him with a phobia for boarding school.

“Lochere was my friend and he would often tell me he was a member of the Sudan army. He was not a troublesome boy. I was shocked when he returned from his suspension at 2am and started killing us,” says Ekutan.

Suspended

“He (Lochere) had been suspended after fighting with a student. He had sent the boy he had fought with to buy for him cooking oil but the boy misused the Sh200 he had given him and that’s why they fought.

“He said he wanted to kill the school principal, but the head teacher was not in the school on the day of the attack.”

Ekutan says he will never set foot in Lokichogio Mixed Secondary School or any other boarding school within the county. He says he would resume studies if he gets an opportunity to enroll at any day secondary school outside Turkana County.

Ekutan’s sister Elizabeth Ekiru says the family spent Sh350,000 borrowed from friends in the boy’s surgeries at Kijabe Mission Hospital.

“The burden of treating my brother was left to the family. He spent three months in hospital as the family begged well-wishers for financial assistance. The family was in anguish,” says Ekiru.

At Lokichogio town, locals were busy raising funds for another victim, Elim Lotukoi, who was shot in the leg and has been in and out of hospitals since the horrendous incident.

A janitor, Pauline Akure, who was in the school during the attack, says majority of students were sleeping outside their dormitories at time of the attack, since the area is warm even at night.

“The area outside the dormitories where the shooting took place was flooded by blood. It was a day I always wish to forget. I lost students who referred to me as mum,” says Akure.

Peter Obuya, who has been Lotukoi’s guardian, says Lokichogio residents have been mobilising funds from local churches to settle the boy’s hospital bills.

“The money donated by well-wishers is finished and the boy has not recovered. We recently bought a special shoe for him at Sh44,000 and we are unsure of his future now that we running out of cash,” says Obuya.

Turkana West MP Daniel Epuyo says construction of the new school was funded by the National Government Constituency Development (NG-CDF).

He calls for vetting of foreign students who have enrolled in many schools along the borders in the northern parts of Kenya.

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Lokichogio Mixed Secondary schoolAbraham LochereKenya-South Sudan borderTerrorist attack