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Outrage as rape cases rise in Nigeria

“There was a very big cut on one part of her head and another one near her eyes. “I started crying. Who did this to…

“There was a very big cut on one part of her head and another one near her eyes.

“I started crying. Who did this to me? If I had offended anybody, why should they take it on my daughter?

“Even if her father offended anybody, he did not say he would pay with his daughter’s life.

“If the person had come to tell me, I would have begged him or her. Who did this to Uwa, a very gentle girl?” Asked Miss Vera Owaila Omozuwa’s mother, Mrs Joy Omozuwa as tears rolled down her cheek.

The gruesome rape and murder of Vera is a piece of news that has kept people all over the country talking.

It is one gruesome death that will ever remain indelible in the memory of her parents, who fought to hide their tears while narrating how their daughter was assaulted and killed by unknown persons.

Their house, located in Ohovbe Quarters, by NNPC depot, has become a Mecca of sorts for sympathisers who throng the house to commiserate and offer words of encouragement and comfort.

The late Vera, a 100-level student of Microbiology in the University of Benin, was on Wednesday last week raped and murdered by yet to be identified persons in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Benin, not too far from her house.

She later died on Sunday in the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH).

Narrating her ordeal, Vera’s mother said, “For over five years now, she has been going to that church to study. Her school was shut because of the COVID-19 pandemic and she did not want to have any carryover in her examinations, so as usual, she took her books to the church to study.’’

She said that when she waited till evening and her daughter did not return, she tried to call her on phone, but the line was not going through; hence she became worried. “Sometimes she would come home by 2pm, 5pm or 6pm, depending on the number of hours she put in,” she said.

According to her, she was told to quickly come to the church, and on reaching there, she was told that her daughter had been rushed to the hospital.

“They said she was blindfolded and her hands tied behind like a thief, while her mouth was gagged.

“When she was untied and they noticed that she moved her hands, she was quickly taken to Enoma Hospital.

“When I saw my daughter, there was blood all over her body. The white top she wore had turned red with blood. Blood was coming out of her ears and nose. And she had swollen eyes.

“She told me that four people raped her.

“I had to sum up courage and started cleaning the blood from her body while the hospital was giving her drip,’’ she narrated.

She was later moved to the UBTH, where doctors tried to save her, but she had sustained a lot of life-threatening injuries; hence she could not make it. She died on Sunday morning.

“Uwa is my second daughter. She was quiet, decent, intelligent and kind. She was always interested in her studies.

“She did not have any boyfriend.

“Last week, her uncle was asking her to show him her boyfriend and she said her target was to finish her education.

“She had male friends but didn’t have a boy as a lover,’’ Mrs. Omozuwa said.

Also, her father, Elder Johnson Omozuwa, a 64-year-old businessman, said all he wanted was justice for her daughter.

“My daughter was very intelligent, but was not allowed to show the world what she was capable of doing.

“She was always calm and disciplined,” he said.

He said his daughter wrote the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) three times and  did not score less than 240, but she could not gain admission to study the course of her choice, Medicine.

In her third attempt, she opted for Nursing but got Microbiology.

She did not want to take it, but I advised her to go for it.

 RCCG church where the rape took place
RCCG church where the rape took place

“She never brought shame to me or the family,’’ he said.

He said he reported the matter to the police that night, but they refused to go with him to the scene of the crime till the following day.

“I don’t want my daughter’s death to be in vain,’’ he said.

They have killed the hope of our family – Baraka’s mother

Also, at Mr Bello’s house in Akinyele, Akinyele Local Government Area, Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, sympathisers cried uncontrollably with the parents of the 18-year-old student of the Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology, Moor Plantation, Barakat Bello, who was allegedly murdered after resisting attempts to rape her.

Barakat’s parents, who live in an uncompleted building, said they had left the killers of their daughter to God.

Mr Bello, who did not want to speak to Daily Trust Saturday, later said, “What else do you want me to say?

“A lot of pressmen have come to interview me and take pictures.

“What has that got to do with the death of my daughter? The deed has been done already. I leave everything to Allah.’’

After much persuasion, the mother of the deceased, Kafayat Bello, said, “God who gave has taken.’’

She said nobody understood how the sad event happened, but she looks up to God for justice.

She had earlier told reporters that her daughter vowed to lift the family out of poverty, saying her assailants have killed the hope of the family.

Similarly, a 12-year-old girl in Jigawa State told the police how a 57-year-old man and 11 others raped her over a period of two months.

“They hid me and repeatedly had sex with me and gave me peanuts,” she alleged in a BBC Hausa Service report.

A medical examination was conducted on her and it was confirmed she was raped.

Ochanya’s case suffers setback

The legal battle over the alleged rape and subsequent death of a 13-year-old Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbanje by her guardians started having a temporary setback since the beginning of this year.

Although the matter came up for hearing twice this year, at the third sitting in March, the court could not hold for reasons adduced to the coronavirus pandemic.

Our latest findings about the matter indicate that there’s no specific date yet for the continuation of the case.

The accused, a senior lecturer in the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, Andrew Ogbuja, was arraigned before a Makurdi High Court by the Benue State Government on a four-count charge bordering on rape and murder of Ochanya.

Ogbuja, 54, and his son, Victor, said to be at large within a period of five years, were alleged to have raped the girl repeatedly.

As a result of the repeated molestation, she developed complications, which led to her death on October 17, 2018.

 RCCG church where the rape took place

Retired Army Captain defiles four-year-old niece

Furthermore, the police in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, arrested Captain Bassey Ekanem (retd) for defiling his four-year-old niece. According to sources, Ekanem claimed he was under the influence of alcohol.

The victim’s younger brother, who is about two years old, was the one who told their mother that their ‘grandpa’ put his finger inside his sister’s ‘bum bum.’

A Calabar-based child rights lawyer, James Ibor, said there must be consequences for the captain’s action.

He added that his organisation would follow up to ensure that the case is not compromised.

“As you know, cases of this nature are easily compromised because the perpetrator is a family member.

“If not followed up properly, the tendency of family members putting pressure on the victim’s immediate parents to compromise the case is very high,” Ibor said.

He encouraged parents and civil society organisations not to give up the fight against rape.

13-year-old allegedly gang-raped

In Kaduna, a 13-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped by four men, who drugged her and later dumped her under a parked vehicle near her home, the Kaduna State Government announced on Thursday.

The Ministry of Human Services and Social Development in the state stated that it was currently following the case.

The ministry stated on its twitter handle on Thursday that after hours of frantic search, the victim was found by a relative and immediately taken to the hospital.

They stated that the four rapists and one collaborator had since been apprehended and the case moved from the police division to the State Criminal Investigative Department.

According to the ministry, after investigation, the men will be charged before a court of competent jurisdiction.

The Kaduna State police command, on Friday confirmed to our correspondent that the suspects were in their custody as investigations are ongoing.

Justice after five years

Also, a High Court in Kaduna, on Wednesday sentenced one Usman Shehu Bahir to death by hanging for raping a two-year-old girl to death in March 2015.

He was said to have taken Fatima to his room, and for 40 minutes, raped her, a situation that led to her death.

Married men defile 10-year-old

In the first week of March, 2020, the media space was awash with the gory details of how nine married men took turns to defile a 10-year-old girl in Maigora village of Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State.

The father of the girl was said to have found out the heinous crime on his daughter and reported the matter to the traditional leader of the village.

The police later issued a terse statement, indicating that they had taken over the matter from the traditional leader and had launched a manhunt for the culprits.

57-year-old man lures minor with N100

In Osun State, a 57-year-old man, Moses Oloko, who reportedly lured a 12-year-old girl with N100 and defiled her more than 10 times, according to the police, is currently in jail.

Oloko was remanded this week by a Magistrate’s Court in Osogbo, the state capital for allegedly committing the offence on May 25 at the Oke-Mission area in Ejigbo community.

15-year-old defiles toddler

The case of a 15-year-old boy who allegedly defiled a three-year-old girl in the Ido-Ekiti area of Ekiti State early this week is also attracting comments from the concerned public.

Again, the police in Ogun State on Thursday confirmed the arrest of one Wasiu Bankole, 25, for allegedly raping a 70-year-old woman.

The suspect allegedly “confessed to the crime, but claimed to have acted under the influence of alcohol.”

On the same day, a 25-year-old man was alleged to have raped an 85-year-old woman in Niger State and threatened to kidnap her.

Reason behind upsurge in rape cases

Data analysis by Daily Trust Saturday revealed that between January and the first week of June this year, there have been at least 65 reported rape cases.

Of this figure, 23 are minors, 25 are teens while only six could be classified as adults.

Some commentators believe the wider usage of the social media is the reason it appears as though rape cases are on the rise.

They said with more people talking about a topic on the social media, it is becoming easier for rape victims to come out.

Several allegations of rape have been, and are still being made on the social media, especially on Twitter.

But the convener of a campaign on the State of Emergency on Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria, Chioma Agwuegbo, believes that it is the absence of deterrence.

“People know that they can get away with these criminal activities.

“They know that the arm of justice is longer than expected and victims don’t get the justice they require,’’ she said.

Agwuegbo told Daily Trust Saturday that another reason could be the absence of education on consent.

“We need to increase education and awareness around these activities,’’ she added.

In an earlier interview with Daily Trust, an official of Nigeria’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Kaduna, Juliana Joseph, acknowledged that the presence of centres such as the SARC across countries strongly contributed to the attention sexual offences now seem to be garnering.

“People now know that when a person is raped and she speaks out, the person will be helped.

“This gives confidence to people to come out.

“It is just like when HIV/AIDs came, when people realised that drugs are being given, those that have been hiding were now coming out.

Senate wants stiffer penalty for sexual offenders

Following a motion on “Increasing cases of rape and brutality against the girl-child in Nigeria” by Senator Sandy Onor (PDP, Cross River Central), with specific reference to the case of Omozuwa, the Senate urged state Houses of Assembly to amend their penal and criminal codes to make the penalties for rape and sexual assault stiffer.

However, in a recent interview with Daily Trust, the country vice president/national president of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in Nigeria, Rhoda Prevail Tyoden, explained that there was no uniformity in the sentences applicable to rape convicts because of the peculiarity of Nigeria wherein the states operate with different legislations.

She added that “laws like the Violence against Persons (Prohibition) Act are federal legislation and states have to adopt them.

“We are pushing for the adoption in all the states, and so far, about 12 states have adopted it.

“So, in states that are still operating the penal or criminal codes, you have different laws for different issues and different punishments.”