Child rape on the rise everyday!
The ugly incidence of child rape across the country is taking a dimension that gives concern to many. This unbelievable romance of immorality is even more worrisome because the defilement is sometimes, incidentally, perpetrated by close relations and some “men of God”. Whether in urban or rural communities, the Nigerian child has, somehow, become a prey for sex predators and the streets are crawling with them. Head, Special Investigations, Isioma Madike, in this report looks at this frightening scenario that many now describe as a sore point in the nation’s socio-cultural history
“He forced me to pull off my panties and licked my private part while he slept with my friend and defiled her too. He subsequently gave us N50 and threatened to kill us if we reported the matter.” This was the pathetic story of a 12-year-old girl, who was allegedly raped by Temitope Alo at Koloba area of Ayobo in Ipaja, Lagos State. Alo, who was later arrested by the police in Ipaja-Ayobo, had, before then defiled eight other children, who allegedly confessed that he had raped them within the neigbourhood. The eight victims, whose ages range from eight to 15 years were brought to the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) by the Vice Chairman, Ipaja-Ayobo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Alhaja Falilat Ajijola, to enable the state government take over the case.
The news of the rape caused a stir at WAPA ministry as the members of staff rained curses on the rapist, who allegedly lured the children to his apartment where he besmirched them. Tests conducted on the victims at the Ayobo- Ipaja Primary Health Centre, confirmed that the children had, indeed, been violated. A top official of WAPA, who confided in Sunday Mirror, said it was not the first as, according to her, “the ministry had handled several rape cases of minors in recent past though, we had never recorded a case where a man serially raped eight children at a go. This is a new dimension.”
But, if the above case was pathetic, the second is simply horrifying. A 42-year-old man, Alao Shobowale, allegedly raped another 12-year-old girl through her anus at Togodo Street, Temu in Epe, Lagos. Shobowale, also known as Alasco, allegedly rubbed his penis and the victim’s anus with ointment before the act. He reportedly invited the girl to his room around 10 p.m., shut the door and forcefully removed her pant and raped her. The matter became public when the girl could not bear the pain and started crying. Her parents and neighbours were said to have forced Shobowale’s door open and found the victim with blood dripping from her anus. The matter was reported to the police and the accused was arrested and transferred to SCID, Panti, Yaba.
Abubakar Suleiman, 45 and petty trader, has also been alleged to have had carnal knowledge of three minors, aged three, five and seven inside his shop at 7, Ifelodun Street, Shasha area of Lagos State. Two of the children are said to be from the same parents. Sunday Mirror gathered that Suleiman usually enticed the kids into a kiosk with biscuits and sweets. According to the girls’ mother, Suleiman is a serial rapist and medical reports show that he also raped the girls in his shop on their way back from school sometime in March. Suleiman’s act was, however, exposed when curious neighbours suspected strange movement of kids inside his kiosk. They moved in and allegedly caught the man on the act. As the children confessed, the neighbours raised the alarm, leading to his arrest by the Area ‘M’, Idimu Police Command.
“One day, in March, my neighbour noticed that her daughter came home with sweets and she decided to probe the girl. That was how she confirmed that he slept with her children, aged five and seven. One of the girls later told me that my two girls, aged three and five, were also defiled by Suleiman. When I questioned my girls, they confessed to me that he had sex with them in his shop when they were on their way back from school. After his heinous act, he used a white handkerchief to clean them up. Test conducted by the Orile-Agege General Hospital showed that the hymen of the victims had been broken. The report further revealed that the four girls had sexually transmitted diseases known as Cultured Staphylococcus Aureus, which has been treated,” the troubled mother said.
Sadly, these are not the only rape cases in Lagos State. A 35-year-old man, Adewale Adeleke, in Ikotun, Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos, was alleged to have been sleeping with his two daughters, 10 and 12 years old, for the past two years. The two girls, who confessed in tears, said that their father had been in the act without the knowledge of their mother who left them since last year. The older of the two daughters confirmed to Sunday Mirror that the barbaric act has been going on since she was 11 and when her younger sister was eight years old, and that it was her father who deflowered her. “Our father sleeps with us frequently. The first time he slept with me, I saw blood coming out of my private part and he used his singlet to clean me up,” she recalled.
Our father sleeps with us frequently –Raped sisters
The suspect was exposed by the Vice Chairman, Freelance Broadcast Association of Nigeria, Lagos State chapter, Demola Olota, Mrs Esther Ogwu of the Esther Child Rights Foundation and Mrs Mary Olasupo of the Compassionate Women who handed him over to the police. He later admitted that he had been defiling his daughters since 2011 and pleaded for forgiveness. He was also quoted as saying that the devil pushed him to have sex with them and that whenever he is arouse sexually, he goes for his daughters.
Mother of the children, who was identified simply as Kemi, who left her husband to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, was devastated when the news that her estranged husband had been sleeping with their children got to her. Kemi, who said she left her husband because he was an irresponsible man, said she could not eat for two days after the news. Ogwu said the man was wicked for defiling his two girls, promising that her foundation would ensure that justice is done in the matter. Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ngozi Braide, confirmed the arrest of the suspect, saying that he would be arraigned in court soon.
Incidentally, child rape has equally become the pastime of some teachers in the state. Not too long ago, the Parents/Teachers Association (PTA) of Queens College, Lagos had a special meeting in the school premises to discuss a reported case of rape involving one of the students, a 12-year-old Junior Secondary School (JSS) girl and a technician in the school’s physics laboratory. The young girl was said to have gone to the physics laboratory to check with the technician who normally brought messages from her parents, whether she had any. The technician, who must have been eyeing the poor girl for a while, tricked her into a corner of the laboratory, and reportedly overpowered her before defiling her. It was the poor girl’s screams that attracted the attention of other students who also alerted the school principal. An emergency school assembly was summoned. The rapist, husband of two wives and father of four children, was later handed over to the police. The school principal, according to reports, wept profusely.
But these are just some examples of the many cases of child rape in the state. Yet, Lagos is not an isolated case. Rape, which used to be a matter that was hushed in whispers or rumours in the country because it belongs to the realm of forbidden acts and was, indeed, uncommon, is now rampant across the country. No day passes without the screaming headlines of newspapers and network of broadcast station’s chilling reports of the activities of child rapists in Nigeria. Long before now, rape was almost alien in this clime, so also was anti-social behaviours. But not anymore. Within the last few months, Nigerians have been entertained with gory stories of rape incidents. Few months ago, many were shocked to hear of a Headmaster being accused of raping an eight-year-old pupil in his school. Day in day out, newspapers are punctuated with reports of men of over 60 raping under-age children. Just recently too, it was reported that a “pastor raped member in the altar.”
But, there are more horrifying stories. A pastor and director of Light of Hope Orphanage at Akute, Ogun State, identified simply as Atunde, allegedly raped two minors at his orphanage freshly. The case was reported at Zone 2 Command, Onikan, Lagos and he was promptly arrested. The command was said to have begun investigating Atunde after receiving a petition from Project Alert against him.
Project Alert, a non-governmental organisation, said the petition was prompted by a teacher of the school, which the minors attended. One of the little souls had allegedly showed up at school in March with blood dripping down her legs. When questioned by school officials, the girl claimed that Atunde had had sex with her. Project Alert programme officer, Tobi Asekun, said, “It was the school that brought the case to us. This is not the first time that we have received complaints against Tunde’s activities. Last year, one of his neighbours came to us making the same complaints but no one could take action because we needed his victims to confirm the claim. So, when this case was brought to our attention, we wrote a petition to Zone 2 command,” Asekun said.
It was learnt that plain-clothes officers from Zone 2 had visited the school and spoken with the minors, who are aged 13 and 14 years before picking up Atunde from the orphanage, which also doubles as his family home. The orphanage, a large one-storey building housing about 12 rooms, is said to have been functioning since 1996.
In all lands and climes, rape is a social ill heavily frowned at. In the African cultural setting, it is particularly a great taboo. Nigeria is not an exception, even though, it is presently facing a frightening scenario in that direction.
Like Lagos, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital is not free from this evil. Just recently, Abeeb Adeoye and his friend Remi Toyo allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl, Lola Adeolu, within the city suburb. The incident occurred in Asu area in Agbede village last month. The men had walleyed the poor girl when she was hawking eko (local pap) for her grandmother and took her into the bush where they raped her. It was also gathered that the men had, for some time, been making attempts to woo the girl such that any time she was hawking they would asked her to come and sell to them in their room, a request she usually turned down. This may be why she ignored their call on the unfortunate day.
According to Lola, “I lived with my grandmother in our village and usually assist her in hawking eko; I often see these brothers, even though, I don’t know their names. That day as I was hawking in the village, I met the two men on the way and they told me that they wanted to buy eko but I ignored them. They then started pursuing me and in order to beat them I threw heimy eko into the bush. This, however, did not stop them from catching up with me. It was Abeeb, who first caught up with me. They then used cloth to blindfold me; immediately I started shouting they put another cloth into my mouth and moved me inside the bush where they tore my pant and raped me one after the other. Seeing what was happening, the other girl with me then rushed out to the village to alert people but before they returned to the scene, they had finished with me and ran away. I bleed profusely. It was that bad and somebody that tried to stop them was beating mercilessly but they were eventually stopped by a woman before they were handed over to the police.”
‘Rape cases now rampant across the country’
Abeeb, who confirmed that they raped the poor girl, blamed the devil for the incident. According to him, “I didn’t know what pushed me into the evil act. There is no excuse for what myself and my friend, Remi did. This was a girl that we had known for a long time such that we had become familiar as we often tell her to keep change whenever we buy eko from her. Please help tell the police to shoot me as I do not deserve to live.” His partner also confessed to the act, saying “it was Abeeb who first had sex with her before I took my turn. But, we did not release on her, though, we didn’t use condom.”
Oyo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP, Olabisi Cllet-Ilobnafor, who confirmed the incident, called on mothers to take time to always monitor their children so as not to fall into the hands of rapists. He said that the command will not hesitate to prosecute anyone arrested for raping.
However, there is a new dimension to rape incidences in Kaduna city and its environs. For instance, a business man, Alhaji Habu, allegedly raped a fellow man, Kabiru, in his resident at Malali, one of the high brow areas in the city recently. Kabiru alleged that Habu drugged him with tea before his devilish act. He further alleged that he was too weak to pull Habu out when he penetrated him but eventually managed to gain enough power to get the man he called uncle off him, using a knife. “I was invited by Habu to his Malali house and was offered food to eat. After the meal I vomited because I was not feeling well. After that, he offered me tea, which I drank and immediately fell asleep in the house with no one around. I was asleep when Habu penetrated me.
“He was already inside me and I tried to free myself, but my body was weak because of the tea. I gained a little strength and tried to push him aside, but he said he would give me whatever I wanted if I could cooperate. I saw a knife and rushed for it but he held my hand and slapped me, forcing me down. When I was able to grab the knife again, he held my hand, and in the struggle, I was wounded. I fought with the knife to free myself, screaming for help. It was late at night and when I was able to push the door and escaped, I screamed and some people came to my rescue,” Kabiru recounted. His mother, Hajiya Fati, has, however, vowed to seek justice for her son.
Kano State, which was noted for its famous groundnut pyramid, had two of its young men bagging a life sentence for raping a three-year-old to death some few years back. It was the city where a grandfather and his three male relatives allegedly subjected his 10-year-old granddaughter to incestuous rape also. The four had claimed that the girl lured them with sexual offers in exchange for money.
As if in competition, another Kano father raped his two teenage daughters in conceit until relatives intervened and reported him to the police. The intervention, however, came too late as the older of the two girls was already pregnant. When she eventually had the baby, it was ironically named after her grandmother, the estranged wife of the incestuous rapist. This disgusting dimension only added to the already bad situation.
Disturbed by the rampant cases of sexual assault in the commercial city involving minors, the state branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has canvassed stiffer punishment for offenders. Chairman of the Christian body, Bishop Ransom Bello, described the development in a chat with our correspondent as alarming. He pointed out that it is a major index of moral decadence in the society. He urged government to prescribe at least life sentence for rapists, which he said is a he nous crime in the society.
The cleric lamented that cases of rape, particularly the brutal attack on under-aged girls by rapists was assuming a dangerous dimension despite the preaching of morality by both Christian and Muslim clerics. According to him, the development is a clear indication that parents and guidance are not living up to expectation in the handling of their children in terms of moral upbringing. The Bishop, who is the general overseer of Kano-based Calvary Life Assembly, noted that most parents are also guilty, pointing out that there are clear cases of child abuse by parents and guidance, who encourage their teenage girls to engage in street hawking of items. “That exposes them to this kind of danger,” he said.
Statistics released by the Kano State Police Command for the months of June and July showed a steady increase in rape with no fewer than 20 of such cases recorded by the Command. However, this official police record may not be a true reflection of rape cases in the commercial town as a number of such cases are not reported to the police by the victims for fear of stigma attach to rape. This, perhaps, could be the reason Suleiman Abba of the Nigerian Police Force warned of a “widespread and alarming” increase in rapes of under-aged girls in Kano city. He graphically explained to perplexed citizens how Kano was itching towards the Guinness Book of Records with several infant rape cases. According to the police chief, the victims are mostly little girls whose ages range from three to 11 years, while the suspects are usually between the ages of 45 and 70. “We have cases of young men raping minors, but the number pales into insignificance compared to the number of cases involving older men,” said Abba, adding “many cases go unreported because parents want to save the honour of their daughters and protect their family from embarrassment.”
The spokesperson for the Societal Reorientation Directorate (SRD), a group tasked with improving morals in Kano, Ibrahim Abdullahi, said some rapists take to the act because they erroneously think they can cure themselves of the dreaded Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) by having sex with virgins. There are others, according to Abdullahi, who also believe that child rape is a ritual that can lead to instant wealth.
In many homes, including those of the elite across the nation, the sad tales are replicated as the girl children often undergo debasement and de-humanisation as victims of sexual abuse by their mistresses’ husbands or children. Even those who hawk wares on city streets also run the risk of being prey to those the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, once referred to as animals in human skin. The girl child devourers prey on the ignorance, selfworth and vulnerability as well as the innocence of victims who, often end up nursing their sorrow in solitude, for fear of being “deported” to their abject poverty-stricken village homes. Stories abound of old men raping two-yearolds; husbands raping house maids, and their wife’s relations and the daughters of neighbours while teachers feast on their female students, who, in normal societies are supposed to be under their care. There was also a story about a man who raped his mother-in-law in Kano. The matter had to be hushed up to protect the family from public disgrace.
It’s an index of moral decadence in the society –Bello
Indeed, rape cases, which are daily reported in Nigerian cities, involve mostly minors and that makes it more horrifying. Girls as little as a year old are daily being defiled by men who have lost all sense of decency. Just recently, the case involving a four-year-old girl in Pandogari Village of Niger State was celebrated even as it typifies a new trend of child rape, which is gradually assuming an endemic status. The little girl, who was said to be visiting her father from another town where she lived with her divorced mother, was lured into the act by one Haruna Ibrahim. Ibrahim was said to have offered the little soul some biscuits before embarking on his devilish enterprise.
On Friday, August 23, a 25-year-old brick layer, Saliu Lawal, also allegedly had canal knowledge of a three-year-old girl, simply identified as Hummi in Minna. Her parents lived the next door to Lawal at Angwan Daji in Chanchaga Local Government Area of the state. The suspect was said to have lured the little girl into the premises of Nuru Islam Primary School in the neighbourhood, tore her pant and forced his way into her. It was the loud painful cries of the little soul that attracted the attention of passersby, who stormed the hideout to rescue the girl and handed the rapist over to the police at Chanchaga Divisional Police Headquarters. Incidentally, Lawal confessed to the crime. He said, “I lured the girl to the school and forced my manhood into her. But, I was unable to penetrate due to her loud cry that caught the attention of people. I know the parents; they are my next door neighbours. I have never done this before; she is the first.”
Confirming the development, the state PPRO, ASP, Richard Oguche, told Sunday Mirror that “investigation is almost completed and reports reaching the command reveal that he was a serial rapist. Rape is a capital offence; we are just waiting for the Medical report conducted on the victim. Soon, the suspect will be charged to court.” Expressing worries on the rising profile of rape cases in the country, Niger State Chief Judge, Justice Fati Lami Abubakar, at a two day seminal organised by the state police command on Capacity Building for 250 Prosecutors and Investigators of rape cases recently, lamented that rape culprits are having a field day due to delays in presenting medical tests to courts by victims to aid their cases when violated.
According to Niger State Commissioner for Gender Affairs, Hajiya Hassana Jumai-Adamu, “the delays have affected the quick administration of justice for many rape victims, not only in the state but throughout the nation. When it takes long before victims speak, the evidence that they were raped will not be there as the living organisms like the sperm would have dried up. And in that case, how do you pursue the case further? The second challenge has to do with the parents of victims, who most times because of stigmatisation, after reporting the abuse of their children or wards, turned round and pleaded to withdraw the case from the court.”
Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja is not left out of this as a two-year-old girl in the city suburb at Karu town, was reportedly raped by a tenant in the house where her father was a security guard. The rapist allegedly defiled the toddler after offering to buy her sweets. Gombe State also recorded its name in the habitual incidence of incestuous rape when a man reportedly had carnal knowledge of his two daughters. The two young women later escaped and reported their plight to neighbours.
However, the Benue State Commissioner for Women affairs, Mrs. Elizabeth Alllagh, says her state government is making frantic efforts to ensuring that child rape is tackled frontally. She explains that plans are on to sponsor a bill before the state assembly with a view to prosecuting all who go against the child’s rights act or law. The commissioner, who spoke to Sunday Mirror disclosed that the state branch of the office of the Federal Child’s Rights Initiative, has opened on Victor Malu road in New G.R.A. she urges members of the public to report child abuse cases to either her office or the secretariat for prompt action. “Government alone cannot do everything and we urge people with useful information leading to perpetrators of child abuse, rape, trafficking and related offenses to come forward with it so that people could be apprehended and brought before the law enforcement agents for eventual prosecution,” she said.
Alllagh, even so, urged parents and guardians to keep vigil over their wards, especially as “we enter the ember months. This is peak period where people of questionable characters source for money by any means and parents should better guard their children against unforeseen circumstances.” Meanwhile, former vice principal of government secondary school, north-bank, Teghtegh Ankyambe, recommended life imprisonment for child molesters and rapists. He argued that rape of any kind, particularly those under the ages of 12 should be seen as worse than an armed robbery. “Life imprisonment would serve as deterrent,” Ankyambe said.
Rape cases are also featuring as a recurring decimal in public and private places, including the ivory towers, hitherto insulated from menacing rapists. The reported case of serial raping of a student of Abia State University is still fresh in minds. Rape is, perhaps, an under-reported crime in all schools across the country and in the Nigerian society in general. Those that occur in village schools, for instance, are not reported. There are many young girls in such schools, who may have been defiled by male teachers who lure them to dark corners, or to their homes. Out of fear or shame or a combination of both, the girls keep quiet forever, only to live with the psychological scar. A retrospective study of 330 female victims of alleged rape seen over a three-year period in Benin City revealed that children of elementary school age (six-12 years) and adolescent girls (13-19 years) were the major victims; 48.2 per cent of the reported cases occurred in children below 13 years of age. Sexual harassment may take a different form in higher institutions of learning, but indeed, at all levels, it is the single biggest threat to the education of female children in this country today.
However, the growing cases of rape have been considered, in some quarters, as a consequence of parents’ neglect of their roles to their children. Many parents are believed to have abandoned their duties of imparting morality to their children and wards. They are said to be so busy with their material pursuit that they do not know the kind of company their children keep. Some are even accused of closing their eyes and ears to whatever their children do or say. There are those who also attribute the rampart incidents of the criminal acts to the attitude of parents towards sex. According to these opinions, some parents no longer consider sex as sacred. Sex, they say, is supposed to be a secret act but some parents, particularly those living in very tight accommodation, according to them, make public show of the act even in the watchful eyes of their children. They, however, cautioned that parents should know the right time and place to discuss sex or engage in the act in order not to corrupt their children’s minds, emphasizing that children copy more of what they see rather than what you tell them.
In his reaction to the growing menace, Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Police, Frank Mba, said “the terrains in most places are densely populated. Majority of the inhabitants are people from the middle to the very low-income earners. And the possibilities of these crimes occurring in these areas are higher. The reasons are obvious. The nature of the buildings in those areas makes it easier for people to intermingle and experience has shown that most of the perpetrators are people who know the victims. They are usually people they see around. They are people who ordinarily are known to the young girls. So, there is this confidence that the girls have when the perpetrators say come. It is also confirmed that most girls who are unable to pay school levies are made to take the option of having sex with teachers in exchange. A number of these girls get pregnant and drop out of school. Some are forced to get into marriages, thereby miss out on education,” Mba said.