For filthy lucre, police truncate defilement, rape cases, deny victims justice (3)
CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK
In this part pf the report, JULIANA FRANCIS, goes after the alleged perpetrators of these crimes, seeking their sides of the narrative.
The case has been reopened and it was just recently I found out that my son had been sodomised. Mirabel Centre had demanded to examine my son, but I said no. I felt sure that it was only my daughter that was violated. But I later agreed to the medical examination; do you know that the test showed that Godwin sodomised our son? When I heard the result, I started shivering, and this was the same man Rebecca was doing everything to unleash back into society. Rebecca didn’t even ask him to go for psychological treatment; rather, she just exonerated him. I caught Godwin right on top of our daughter, yet Rebecca said that there was no eyewitness. Every day I keep telling God to punish Rebecca. I have gone through a lot. Rebecca is not an ordinary policewoman; she’s making good money from cases and distributing to those protecting her. There are several petitions against her.”
Rebecca Jacob declines comment
Our reporter located Jacob at the Gender Unit at Ikeja, whereby she and her immediate boss declined comment, and then directed our reporter to the PPRO. Ajisebutu said that the cases were now sub-judice hence it would be inappropriate to further comment on them. The image maker added: “However, the allegations against the IPO are unfounded.”
IPO accused of allowing suspect to bolt
In August 2020, a 40-year-old man, nicknamed Okey Ten Kobo, took his neighbour’s 14-year-old sister to a hotel, laced her food with a substance which made her drowsy and then violated her. The victim’s defilement was discovered after she went missing on August 16. She was found the following day.
She would later tell her eldest sister, Jennifer, who is also her guardian, what Okey did. The girl said after eating the food that Okey gave her, she couldn’t remember anything afterward.
Jennifer reported the matter at the Makinde Police Station. A policewoman, Sergeant Ashiru, took the statement of the survivor, but all efforts to arrest Okey failed. Ashiru went to Okey’s house four times, but never met him.
While the Makinde Police Station was still hunting for Okey, Jennifer received a phone call from the Crime Recorder of Shogunle Police Station, inviting her to the station.
Jennifer got to the station and saw the elusive Okey. The Crime Recorder, Inspector Festus Ngwu, told her that Okey lodged a complaint that she used a soldier to threaten and beat him up because he refused to cough up N250,000, which she demanded from him, so that she would stop pursuing the case.
Earlier, Jennifer had already gone to the ACVPN. Omejalile, said: “The survivor narrated her ordeal, leading to the Crime Recorder, Inspector Festus Ngwu, begging and asking them to ‘forgive and forget.’ He told Jennifer to take the survivor to a private hospital for a medical examination. But he was actually supposed to give them paper to go to a government hospital. He also didn’t obtain a statement from Okey. He did everything wrong! Rather, he said the medical test was to check if the survivor was pregnant, and if that was the case, Okey would marry and pay her bride price in instalments as they were both of Igbo extractions. Jennifer told us that she didn’t agree to it. When I heard about it, I was shocked. An IPO, who is the Crime Recorder in a division, suggesting child marriage?
“I called and asked him why he asked the survivor to go to a private hospital for check-up instead of the government hospital? He claimed the survivor and Jennifer came, pleading that they didn’t want to make a case, so he asked them to leave. I told him it was a clear case of abduction and defilement. I told him he needed to charge the case to court and ensure the survivor gets a proper medical paper. We, however, decided to visit the Shogunle Police Station.”
On August 27, Omejalile went with Mrs. Selina Asala of ACVPN, Criminal Justice Officer. At the station, the advocates sought audience with the Divisional Officer Police (DPO), Mr. Ogundele, and briefed him about the case.
Omejalile recounted: “When Ngwu was called to brief the DPO about the case, he said Jennifer had demanded N250,000 and that when Okey refused to pay, she decided to use a soldier to beat him and also threatened his life. The DPO threatened to detain the survivor and her two sisters because of the soldier angle, but Jennifer denied the allegation. Before we could say more, the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) came into the office and started ranting. He said Okey and the survivor were lovers, and that she had been sleeping around. I asked him why he would say that, that the girl in question was old enough to be his daughter. I reminded him that the girl was a minor and couldn’t give consent. He asked what were my business and interest in the survivor. He then threatened to slap me twice, right in the presence of my colleagues and his DPO. But the DPO didn’t caution him. I dared him to slap me. The Crime Recorder, Ngwu, then said he would handcuff me; I told him to go and handcuffed Okey, whom they had let loose. The DPO asked us to leave his office.”
After leaving the station, Omejalile heard that the survivor and her two sisters were detained.
He said: “On August 28, we went with our legal head and media team to meet the area commander, Area F, Ikeja. I got a call from Jennifer, that she saw Ngwu, going into Okey’s house. The area commander had asked them to produce Okey. Okey, knowing that the police from Makinde Division were looking for him, ran to Shogunle Division, to lodge a complaint of threat to life and assault against Jennifer.”
Since then, Okey Ten Kobo has disappeared into thin air. Latest information says that he relocated to the eastern part of Nigeria. Following the denial of justice, the survivor was relocated to Abuja, while Jennifer packed out of the compound.
Don’t ever call this number again, Inspector warns
On January 13, our reporter went to Shogunle Police Station to hear Ngwu’s side of the story. But he has been transferred out of the station. When our reporter called his number, he denied knowing anything about the case and warned our reporter never to call his number again. Attempts to get Okey’s phone number were also futile.
‘The IPO frustrated me’
In 2019, Ebere, a widow, left her three girls, Happiness, 10, Destiny, seven, and Blessing, four, at home to hawk fufu. She later received a phone call from a neighbour, frantically asking her to return home immediately. She got home to hear how 27-year-old Sodique Ismail, one of their neighbours, lured Destiny into the toilet in the compound and violated her.
Ebere said: “When she came out from the toilet, her face was flushed and red. A neighbour saw her face and asked her what happened. She told the neighbour that Sodique slept with her. While she was still responding to the neighbour, Sodique ran away.”
Ebere’s nightmare was just beginning. When she got to Mirabel Centre, the doctor that examined Destiny, asked how many daughters she has, she said three. The doctor told her to bring the other two. The medical examination showed that the three children had been violated and they revealed that they were violated by Sodique and his 19-year-old brother, Mustapha Ismail. Ebere wept.
She said: “When I asked Happiness why she didn’t tell me, she said that they told her that if she told me, they would kill her. She told me that she didn’t want to die like her father.”
Ebere quickly called her husband’s brother, who asked her to take the matter to the police station.
She recalled: “When I got to the station, my brother-in-law spoke with the police on the phone. The police asked me to go, that they would hunt down Sodique and arrest him. But then the police suddenly started dribbling me; they’ll tell me to come today, come tomorrow. The IPO is called Alhaja. I don’t know her real name, but she’s physically challenged. She’s in charge of the human rights desk at the Red House Police Station (Iju-Ishaga Police Station). One day she told me to go and look for Sodique myself and arrest him myself. Another time, she asked me to go and get a vehicle for the man-hunt of Sodique. I got it, but she asked me to take it back without giving me a reason.”
Ebere, tired of the merry go round, began to contemplate jettisoning her quest for justice, but then her church members suggested she should seek the help of Neighbourhood Watch to arrest the elusive brothers. She went to them and soon, they were able to arrest Mustapha.
She said: “He was arrested while he was going to a mosque to pray. The IPO, Alhaja, tried to frustrate me and the case. She collected N200,000 from the father of the suspects, who is an Islamic cleric. I even confronted Alhaja about collecting money from the cleric; she responded that she was just doing her job. She even asked the Alfa to settle me, so that we would drop the case. His wife brought N20,000, but I rejected it. She asked me if I was still angry, I said no, that I had left everything to God. Before they knew it, I had gone to the Neighbourhood Watch. Mustapha was taken to Area G Command, Ogba and the area commander called for the transfer of the case from Red House Police Station.”
Although Sodique escaped, Mustapha has been remanded in prison custody. The complainant and activists do not know the whereabouts of Sodique or have his phone number. Ebere also didn’t know the real name of the IPO Alhaja or her phone number.
These sorts of landmines placed on the pathway of survivors and their relatives who want justice by police are not limited to Lagos State. It is an endemic aspect of some police personnel, who ordinarily should know better.
In Enugu State, Mr. Ikechukwu’s 12-year-old daughter, who is a Junior Secondary School (JSS1) student, was raped. He said that after much drama, he demanded the matter be taken to court. Unfortunately, he later found out that the matter was not registered by the police. He said till date, he couldn’t understand what happened. He only knew that the perpetrator was released.
How professor repeatedly raped me, says 13-year-old girl
A similar case happened in Ebonyi State where a lecturer at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike (AE-FUNAI), Prof. Felix Anyaegbulam, allegedly defiled his 13-year-old maid, Joy. The perpetrator is 70 years old.
Joy’s nightmare started in June, when she woke up and saw Anyaegbulam lying naked beside her.
Joy said: “I saw bloodstains on the bed sheet. In the morning I told my father and he took me to a laboratory where they conducted a pregnancy test on me. The nurse said I was not pregnant, but that I had lost my virginity. I didn’t understand what she meant. When I got to school, I asked my teacher what it meant to lose one’s virginity, and she explained it to me. I started seeing my period that same June, and I told my teacher about it. She came to the house with me, to tell the professor that I had started menstruating. After she left, he started coming to my room every night and doing what I don’t like.”
Joy believed that she was drugged because she couldn’t remember how Anyaegbulam crawled into her bed. She only woke up to see him naked beside her.
She said: “But in August, I became aware of what was happening because by this time he had started coming to my room at 2am. This made me unable to sleep. He made it an everyday affair. It was that August I started reporting to my dad, to my mum who is in the village and to my teacher.”
Anyaegbulam was arrested, but everyone was shocked when he was released some hours later. Joy recalled that Anyaegbulam promised to marry her after he must have finished paying for her education to the university level.
In Ebonyi State, the Gender-Based Violence Taskforce was inaugurated by USAID under its Health Policy Plus Programme to curb all forms of violence against women, girls and children. A member of the taskforce, Uchenna Inya, said while rape was on the increase, perpetrators were having their ways despite efforts to curtail it.
Inya said that Joy’s defilement was reported at the Central Police Station. According to him, Anyaegbulam was arrested but, for reasons the taskforce couldn’t understand, was granted bail.
He said: “The case was not properly handled by the police. First, they didn’t take the child for medical examination and then they released the perpetrator that same day.”
Inya said that after more than a month had elapsed, with the police doing nothing about the matter, the taskforce went to see the state commissioner of police, leading to Anyaegbulam being re-arrested.
The leader of the taskforce, Mrs. Faithvin Nwancho, while briefing the CP, Mr. Garba Aliyu, mentioned some other cases that had not received professional handling. Nwancho, a lawyer, said that cases were being compromised at various divisions where they were reported.
Police, doctor’s reports exonerate Prof, says lawyer
When our reporter tried to contact Anyaegbulam to hear his story, it was learnt that he had been remanded in Afikpo Correctional Centre. However, his lawyer, Barrister Emeka Onwubu, said that the allegations against his client were false. He explained that the professor has a wife, Chidinma, who is related to Joy.
Onwubu said: “According to the police report, defilement couldn’t be established. The girl in her statement said that she woke up and noticed bloodstains on her cloth and on the bed and not quite long; her aunt from school brought her home that she was menstruating.
“My own argument is if somebody had molested or raped you at the point of you bleeding, there must be some elements of force. I believe she noticed her menstruation for the very first time and thought somebody molested her. They went to report to human rights activists and the matter was escalated in the social media without hearing from the Prof. The doctor and police investigated the matter and both couldn’t establish rape. The incident was reported four months after she alleged being molested and her hymen is intact! There would not be penetration without breaking of hymen, and the police in their report and the doctor, who carried out test on the girl, said they couldn’t establish rape because there was no blood. The thing is that the girl had taken her bath and the police in their report, said the highest they could establish was indecent assault, if there’s any. The only thing these activists wanted to do was to tarnish the man’s image in his place of work, because he’s a professor. Even the human rights activists that made a report to the police came back and collected money from him.”
Foiling police attempt to damage defilement case
The Secretary-General, Centre for Democratic Values and Governance, former Secretary of Edo Civil Society Organisation (EDOCSO), Leftist Dickson John, said that similar experiences had played out in Edo State. Dickson, whose core area of advocacy is for rape survivors, said: “Police even used to collect money from suspect’s family and give to survivor’s family by force for ‘settlement.’ The police will tell survivors that there was no need to go to court because, ‘you don’t have money to do a case.’ They’ll mandate the survivor’s family to collect N20,000 and leave. Police will even approach the survivor’s parents, threatening them for bringing in human rights activists. They’ll tell these survivors that they have damaged their cases and then before we know it, the survivors’ parents will begin foot dragging. They’ll not want you to accompany them again because of what they have been told. And then, you’ll hear that the perpetrator has been released and the case settled. The worst aspect of these settlements created by the police is that the survivor will forever live with that stigma, trauma and become something else.”
He recalled a particular incident, where a youth corps member defiled a primary school pupil, identified as Ehizogie. Policemen from Iguobazuwa Police Station were called into the matter and IPO was Sergeant Omoruyi.
He said: “But they asked the perpetrator to pay N100,000 to the girl’s father. He succeeded in paying N70,000, and because he couldn’t meet up with the balance, the father of the survivor rearrested and took him to the same police station.”
Dickson stated that he and other activists caused the IPO, DPO, the survivor’s parents and the school head teacher to be arrested and moved to police headquarters. The activists monitored the case until it was charged to court.
He gave another instance whereby he fought for justice for a three-year-old girl named Treasure. The child was defiled by 18-year-old Samuel Eyo. Dickson said that when he heard the age of the survivor, his heart broke. The matter was domiciled at Evbotubu Police Station and the IPO is Osas.
He said: “At the station, I met the mother of Samuel Eyo and she said that the three-year-old child framed her son. She also insisted that her son was 14-year-old, while his birth certificate showed us that he is 18. Before then, the police had destabilised the mother of the survivor, harassing and pressuring her to collect N100,000 from Samuel’s family and forget the case. They also told the mother of the perpetrator to apologise to the mother of the survivor. The IPO, Osas, started running up and down, immediately he heard that human rights activists were involved.”
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