The trauma in which the victims, in most cases are girl-children below thirteen years of age pass through can better be imagined than experienced.
When our reporter visited the Akwa Ibom Police headquarters Ikot-Akpanabia, Uyo, to assess the level of rape in the state, one of the rape victims, a ten year old girl, beautiful and intelligent narrated how she was defiled by her mother’s lover who is also a pastor.
Amid tears and in a voice ladened with emotions, the victim narrated how she begged the man to let her go that night but he refused and still had his way and got her deflowered.
According to her, “I begged him, I begged that uncle to allow me to sleep with my younger sister that night who is six, but he refused! he insisted I should not wake my sister who was fast asleep, I watched him as he hurriedly pulled his trousers, removed his boxers, applied cream on my body and his. I was crying, he never moved, he held me down and raped me that night.
“But my sister later woke up and joined me to weep without knowing what happened. The uncle was angry, he flogged my sister for crying, later, he told neighbours that he flogged us because we urinated in bed.”
The girl added that she later reported the incident to her grandmother who got the man arrested.
While parading the suspect alongside other suspects, the Police Public Relations Officer in the State Odiko MacDon said the suspect Rev. Anwanga Essien is a pastor with the Restoration Bible Church, Itiam street, Uyo, and the victim, his step-daughter.
Investigation revealed that the rapist pastor had deceived the victim’s mother, got her pregnant and forced her to abandon her matrimonial home to live with him.
It was actually a sight to behold, the day of the parade as the biological father of the victim was there, the pregnant mother was also there with a face soaked in shame. In an interaction with our correspondent, she(victim’s mother) blamed her mother for being in a hurry to arrest his new lover (pastor) without her knowledge, lamenting that there was no one else to take care of her since the pastor lover was remanded in custody for over two weeks.
Despite the pains and psychological trauma boldly written all over the little girl’s face, she still exhibited that the love and bond between mother and daughter can not easily be broken, she disengaged her hands from the clips of her father, rushed towards the direction her mother was standing aimlessly and sobbing, maybe to console her, but was called back by her father with a look like, ‘don’t go near before you will be infested with immorality.’
In the midst of that confusion in the girl’s mind, existed strength and vigour even as she broke down in tears the second time gazing at how tears raced down her mother’s cheeks. In all, she couldn’t help it because the stern-looking father had restrained her from moving further. But she managed to wave at her mother passionately in reassurance to be strong, that all would be well as she went back to her father who swiftly took her away from the vicinity.
But, it’s quite appalling that some clergies expected to protect our daughters and instil moral values in them are neck-deep into rape and defilement. Behind their veil of righteousness lies scores of immorality and filthiness without taking into cognizance that the Creator sees inside out.
This menace rearing it’s ugly head in the state lately has become so worrisome that mothers and caregivers have been encouraged to put up defence mechanism through sex education to protect their daughters against these sex marauders who are most times their kiths and kins
More worrisome is how some of our daughters have mysteriously fallen prey into the hands of their fathers who mindlessly devoured them sexually without considering the emotional, psychological and health trauma they could pass through.
Recall, that DAILY POST had reported how one Joseph Sunday of Obot Ideng, in Ibesikpo local government area of the state raped his two daughters aged nine and thirteen for more than three years with flimsy excuse of testing whether his manhood was still functional.
The suspect, Sunday threatened his daughters with the idol to dissuade them from divulging his incestuous act to anyone.
The suspect had told our correspondent, “My wife left me some years ago because of some family issues and relocated to Rivers State. I have been the only one taking care of my daughters. I just want to test if my manhood is still functional using my daughters.”
Also, a prophet of a new generation church reportedly prophesied that a little girl was a witch and lured the parents to bring the child to his house to exorcise the “demons.” After sending the parents away, the man of God defiled the six-year-old girl.
Another mind-blowing incident was that of one Okon Bassey aged 40 who is also a presiding pastor of Mount Zion Light House Full Gospel, Obio Imo Lane Uyo sleeping with his daughter for over seven years.
The acclaimed pastor according to the police command started having sex with his daughter when she was thirteen inside the church vestry.
The victim, a secondary school student narrated how the father must demand sex from her before paying her fees or meeting any of her basic needs without the knowledge of her mother.
The victim further narrated how she got pregnant for her father three times and they were all aborted by the mother.
The nagging question becomes, “would the woman who was good at terminating pregnancies of her daughter feign ignorance of the person behind the pregnancies? Or was she trying to save her marriage after discovering the truth at the expense of her daughter? That is where carelessness, callousness and selfishness of some mothers can come into play.
The victim also disclosed that her father had threatened to use his office as a ‘man of God’ to place a curse on her if she had made any attempt to reveal their secret.
The ‘secret,’ she kept for over seven years until she clocked 20 and made up her mind to let the cat out of the bag and damn the consequences. This, she did by first of all meeting the guidance and counsellor in her school and bared her mind. The councillor took the matter up and the father was picked up by police. Though the father has blamed his randy behaviours on the devil.
More detestable was a case of one Iniobong Okon Moses ‘m’ of Ikot Amupe Obio Offot, Uyo, aged 23, who was arrested on 9th November 2019 for defiling his two-year-old Step-daughter.
DAILY POST reports that the suspect said he was drunk that fateful night, came in and saw the little girl, grabbed her and penetrated her, thereby causing severe injuries on the girl’s vagina.
The suspect in an interrogation blamed the incident on alcohol, adding that he actually thought the victim was his wife.
Though from investigation, one of the main causes of high rate of rape and other vices recently witnessed in the State, was drug abuse. Most young people in the society who are involved in taking hard drugs and alcohol have been enmeshed in some of these social vices.
One of the suspects paraded, a serial rapist, Saviour Umoh Ukpong of Akpan Etuk Street, Uyo said he always had the urge to rape girls anytime he drank alcohol excessively or took any hard substance.
According to him, “I am sorry for raping girls, but it happens anytime I was inside the bottle ma. Some, I lure to my house, others I do along the bush path at night. But na bottle dey causam.”
Saviour, notorious of raping secondary school girls was arrested on 14th November 2019 for defiling a 15-year-old girl by deceiving the victim that he was a prophet, hypnotised her and took her home for his devilish act.
The victim, when she regained consciousness at about few minutes past 9pm, went home, still on her school uniform and narrated to her mother what she could recall. The suspect was later arrested.
Consequently, One 46-year-old Nsikan Ufia Udo ‘m’ of Nung Akpan Obio Offot, Uyo, was paraded for raping a 12-year-old girl. The suspect confessed that he committed the act under the influence of alcohol.
According to a statement by the police, “on the said date, he called the victim and sent her on an errand to buy him cigarettes. On her return, he dragged her into his room and defiled her. On interrogation, he claimed he did it under the influence of alcohol.”
Despite advocacy from different quarters both governmental and non-governmental organisations to enact stiffer punishment against those found culpable of rape, cases of rape have continued to grow in appreciable proportion. In 2019 alone, according to a police source, about 61 cases of rape and defilement have been reported to the police in the state while the unreported cases are even more than the reported ones.
According to the Coordinator of Coalition of Eastern NGOs, Mr. Israel Ekanem, rape in most cases has been allowed to go down the drains due to negotiations by parents of the victims and the perpetrator as well as local councils trying to resolve issues in communities.
Investigations revealed that the reason some victims seldomly exposed their molesters was due to shame and fear of stigma or simply because those convicted are still walking the streets with their heads high due to lighter or weak sanctions.
But the wife of the governor, Dr. Martha Emmanuel through her pet project, Family Empowerment Youth Reorientation Path Initiative, FEYrep had said it would no longer be business as usual.
The coordinator of FEYRep, Mrs Ime Inyang had said with the partnership with Women Lawyers in the state under the aegis of FIDA, many victims are coming out to report, noting that FEYrep had secured 15 convictions of rape cases so far.
Meanwhile, the police spokesperson, Odiko Macdon in an interaction ascribed the emerging cases of rape and sodomy in the state to moral bankruptcy and promised the command’s readiness to clamp down on these sexual predators even as Nigeria has officially launched it’s National Sexual Offenders’ Register, ‘Say no to Rape and all forms of sexual abuse.’
People have been encouraged to report offences from anywhere in the world by dialling *627# for prompt and effective investigation.
Also, the commissioner for Agriculture and women affairs, Dr. Glory Edet, during a one- Day training workshop on Gender-based Violence Mitigation for the Police and Relevant Non-governmental Organizations disclosed that her ministry in 2019 had attended to over 452 cases of GBV and 18 culprits had been prosecuted while 16 have been sent to different terms of imprisonment.
She further disclosed that child defilement and rape were among non-bailable offences in the State.
On its own, the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey as the Speaker had passed a bill issuing a capital punishment against persons convicted of rape and other violent crimes in the state.
Therefore, there is hope that with the voices from different corners in the state against rape, defilement and gender-based violence would be nipped in the bud in no distant time.