Hanover councillor pushing for scholarship in honour of slain 9-year-old

LUCEA, Hanover — As the country continues to come to terms with the rape and murder of a nine-year-old allegedly by an adult she knew, deputy mayor of Lucea Andria Dehaney Grant has revealed that she will be moving to have a scholarship set up in memory of the child.

Nine-year-old Nikita Noel was found in bushes at the side of a road in her home community of Kew last month.

“As a councillor at the Hanover Municipal Corporation and chairman of the Civic and Community Committee, I am also going to propose to the corporation for us to do a scholarship in memory of this little girl,” stated Dehaney Grant.

She was speaking with the media following the thanksgiving service for Nikita last Saturday at the Bioprist Complex (formerly Jockey International garment factory) in Lucea.

Dehaney Grant told the Jamaica Observer that the motion will be moved at the next sitting of the corporation.

Noting that the occasion on Saturday was a sad one, Dehaney Grant called on all Jamaicans to play their part in preventing incidents such as this.

“I want to call on the communities, call on our people in the parish to be our brother’s keeper and go back to the era where the community raised the children, so that all of us look out for the children amongst us, so that we protect our children,” stated Dehaney Grant, who is the principal of Maryland All-Age School in the parish.

Nikita, who was called Joanna by family and friends, was a student at Esher Primary School in the parish.

On February 1 Nikita was picked up from school by her regular taxi driver. She was left at the foot of a dirt road leading up a hill to her home. However, she did not make it home.

Principal of Esher Primary School Anthonette Wright said it has been difficult for the school community for the past five to six weeks but they are strengthened by the fact that life continues and therefore the school community must pick up the pieces and move forward.

Wright said the school is currently making an extra effort to factor in students’ emotional well-being as they continue to progress academically. She noted that resources and the support of State agencies and parents will be needed.

In January, the school decided to execute an action plan for the year which includes parenting sessions at grade levels, starting with the first batch from the middle of this month leading into April.

“We are hoping that our parents are going to come out and support us because we have let in many different kinds of [personalities] in our villages and some of the influences haven’t been good,” stated Wright.

“There are lots of wonderful things continuing to happen in education and happening in our schools but we still have too many violent attacks and we still have too many outside influences that are not contributing to children maintaining safe homes, and we need to act.

“So, we are being a part of the solution to the problems and we are going to be ensuring that we listen and we ask questions. And, when we see things that puzzle us we are going to be making a special effort to report it where it needs to be reported so as to get help,” added Wright.

Omar Green, a 42-year-old construction worker of Barbary Hill, Lucea and a former intimate partner of Nikita’s mother, was charged with the murder and rape of Nikata last Thursday.

At Nikita’s thanksgiving service her mother Nordia Edwards called for the death penalty for Green if he is found guilty of her child’s death.

“It hurts just to see my daughter go down. It is not a pretty sight. As much as the person is charged, that is still not justice in my eye. My daughter goes down, he should go down too. That is my justice,” Edwards told the media.

“How yuh do a crime like that and sitting in jail and eating taxpayer money, laughing at me out here weeping all night for my child? That is not closure. That is not justice,” added Edwards who is calling for the mandatory death penalty for persons found guilty. “One thing I asked for [is] for the Government to change the law. You do a crime like that they find you guilty, injection. Die right there. That is justice. Too much of this is going on. An end needs to put to this. Joanna never deserved this,” declared Edwards who also dismissed reports that Green was the child’s stepfather.

“He was no stepfather; that was long in the past. How could a father do this to his daughter? You call that a stepfather? That is a evil person,” stated Edwards who took the time to thank those who have been providing support and counselling from across the country.

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