How Rapists Choked, Nearly Killed Us, Yet No Justice – Victims
Amid the exploding cases of rape in the country, some rape victims have stepped out and narrated their painful ordeals to journalists.
Some of the victims said they had yet to heal from their grief, saying they were subjected to untold trauma following their bitter experiences.
Some of the victims, however, said their grief worsened when they did not get justice after reporting to the police.
One of the victims, 16-year-old Bose Samuel (not real name), has seemingly lost hope in getting justice six months after she was allegedly defiled by her neighbour, one Makinde Raheem.
The girl was having a bath in one of the two bathrooms in her residence in the Oko Oba area of Lagos when Raheem reportedly barged in and raped her at knifepoint.
The incident which happened on November 29, 2019 was reported at the Elere Police Station, Lagos and Raheem was arrested.
The suspect was being taken to Ogba Magistrates’ Court on January 2 by one Inspector Tina when he escaped.
It was learnt that Tina was detained for aiding Raheem’s escape but was allowed to resume work some days after.
Samuel, while narrating her ordeal, said Raheem was still on the run.
He started asking me out in November 2019 but I declined and told him he was old enough to be my father. One day, he met me outside and told me that many women were eyeing him up but he did not give them attention. He said he was giving me a free opportunity (to date him) and I didn’t want to embrace it. I walked out on him. He did not know my sister was inside the room. She heard everything he said.
My sister warned me to be careful. His wife noticed that he was disturbing me and she asked me whether her husband was asking me out and I said yes. She also warned me to be careful. Since then, I stopped greeting him. On November 29, 2019, while he was passing by, he peeped into the bathroom and saw me having a bath.
Only he and I were at home that day. Others had gone to work. He barged into the bathroom with a knife and said he had seen everything on my body. He threatened to stab me if I shouted and that nobody would hear my voice. He said he purposely waited at home for people to go out. After he had sex with me, he vowed to kill me if I told anybody.
It was on December 19, 2019 that I dared the consequences and explained what happened to my mum. When he returned home that day, she confronted him and he said I was his girlfriend.
The IPO (Investigating Police officer, Tina) was taking him to court when he escaped. He was not handcuffed so it was easy for him to flee. Up till now, the man has not been rearrested.
Victoria John (not real name), 20, who was allegedly gang-raped by eight men in the Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State on May 13, 2020, for refusing to begin a sexual relationship with one of the suspects, told one of our correspondents on Friday that she had yet to recover from the traumatic experience.
Victoria said she was on her way from a naming ceremony in the Ikpeshi area of the state when eight men swooped on her, forced her into an apartment and took turns to rape her. She said the suspected rapists took photos of her nakedness and threatened to kill her and upload her nude photos on social media, adding that they later pushed her out around midnight.
One of the suspects had made advances to me but I refused. On that day, I was returning from a naming ceremony at about 11 pm when eight men, including the one who approached me earlier, accosted me and forcibly took me to an apartment, threatening me and beating me with machetes.
They locked the apartment, started playing music at a high volume and eight of them raped me. I screamed to the point that I got tired. After raping me, they took pictures of me naked and threatened to upload my nude pictures on Facebook if I told anyone what happened.
They also threatened to kill me if I reported the matter. The matter was later reported to Nigeria Police Area Command in Igarra. The police told me that three suspects were arrested. The matter was taken to court with the help of an organisation, BraveHeart Initiative but they were released. I want those who raped me to go to jail.
The Executive Director of BraveHeart Initiative, Ms Priscilla Usiobaifo, explained that the three suspects arraigned were released on bail as the Nigerian Correctional Service could not accommodate them due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another rape victim, Bella (not real name) has had to leave her home in Egor, Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State, for Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, after she was raped twice in one week by men suspected to be cultists.
The victim, 19, said that she had been living with her stepmother in Egor for some years. Her mother had died shortly after her birth while her father died about five years ago. Since then, Bella said she had been living with her father’s second wife, hawking fufu for her on the streets of Egor.
However, she narrated that recently during the course of hawking fufu late in the evening, she encountered two young men who abducted her and took her to a hidden place.
She said she was raped by the two men, adding that after the incident, the offenders commanded her to always heed their call anytime they wanted to have sex with her, threatening to kill her should she refuse.
When they were done with the act, they asked me to call out my bank account number, which I did. They said they had transferred N10,000 to my account. But I never received any payment. Before they left me, they said anytime they wanted to have sex with me, they would call me and that I should never refuse or else they would kill me.
The incident took place in April. A few days after I was raped, they accosted me again while I was selling fufu, and they forcibly took me to a place where they raped me. They said I had automatically become their girlfriend. I think they were cult members.
Bella, however, said she had not reported the matter to the police and also said she was afraid of telling her stepmother.
Bella said she informed her uncle in Akwa Ibom State who sent her some money to leave Egor.
Another rape victim, simply identified as Precious, based in Lagos, said she was raped by her church friend when he visited him sometime in 2013.
Precious said on a certain Saturday, the offender deceived her into believing that he was sick, prompting her to go and visit him as a friend.
On arriving at his place, I saw him shivering on his couch. His younger brother who was usually around anytime I visited was not around this particular day. I asked after him and he said he (the younger brother) went on an errand. I didn’t suspect anything.
He told me he had not eaten that day so I went to his kitchen to prepare something for him. While I was going to the kitchen, he said he bought my favourite juice for me and that I could take it from the fridge. I took the drink. I never knew it had been injected with sedatives.
After drinking the juice, I started cooking. Later I saw him behind me holding my waist. I shouted at him and asked what he was doing because he was a church friend. I didn’t expect such behaviour from him. But despite my reaction, he kept on touching me and at a point, I felt sleepy. I later felt I was being carried in his arms but I had lost all strength. To cut the long story short, I was raped,
Asked if she reported the case to the police, the victim replied in the negative, saying the assailant begged her over and over again after the incident.
I was emotionally brutalised by a so-called friend but I had to let it go as a Christian. I have since cut off all friendship with him and I wish I never depended on him the way I did,
Another rape victim, Rachael Mgbanuchukwu (not real name), couldn’t hold back tears as she disclosed to one of our correspondents that it was her father who raped her.
She said her mother died while growing up so she had to live with her relatives, adding that she used to visit her father. It was on one of those occasions that she visited her father that she was raped.
It was my father who raped me. My mother died while growing up and I didn’t live with my father because he remarried; I lived with relatives. I used to visit my father then who stayed at Ikota, Lagos. He began to take advantage of me at the age of 14 in 2013. Whenever I visited, he would always ask me to shave his private parts, and in return, he would shave mine.
On that day, we were returning from a journey and my father told me that the car had developed a fault and thus we would have to lodge in a hotel. He got only one room. He lied to me that if he didn’t have sex with me that night, his life was on the line.
He molested me until I was 18 years old; it was at that age that I finally got the courage to voice out to my boyfriend. My boyfriend decided to report the matter but my father heard of it and beat me mercilessly. He invited me to his place and threatened to shoot my boyfriend. I had to break up with my boyfriend.
I still live with the scar till today.
Sobbing as she spoke with Saturday PUNCH, another rape victim, Sophia, said she was raped by an uncle who lived with her family.
Unfortunately, Sophia said her mother whom she confided in never believed her because the offender was a relative.
I was raped by a family friend who lived with us. My dad was sick at the time and my siblings were at home with this uncle, whom I would refer to as Uncle T.
One day, he came into the room where I was sleeping and began to touch me. My family members were asleep and when I tried to scream, he hit me. After that incident, I was traumatised and became scared of men. It was very difficult for me to have a healthy relationship with boys.
I told my mum about it but she felt I was young or hallucinating because I used to be talkative. Even when I became withdrawn from the family members, she never believed me. I had to live in silence thereafter.
With time I got angry at everyone. After I saw many ladies opening up on their rape stories, I later voiced out to an organisation called Voices Against Rape and Sexual Harassment. If my family had believed me, I would have sought justice.
I used to be filled with disgust; sometimes I felt nauseous and later I began to have nightmares. It was one of my friends that I opened up to who urged me to forgive my assailant. Now, when I see him, I feel neutral, a feeling I cannot explain. Sometimes, I wish I could take my anger out on him because he never apologised to me.
Another rape victim, identified as Peace, told journalists that she was nine years old when she was defiled by her father in Sabongida Ora, Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State. Peace said he threatened to kill her and boasted that no one would believe her if she exposed him.
Peace lamented that she went through hell after she fled her home as she was raped by another man who pretended to be willing to help her when she was homeless.
The victim, now 23, said the story of the rape and murder of Uwaila Omozuwa, a 100-level Microbiology student of the University of Benin, opened a wound that had yet to heal in her life.
In an interview with Saturday PUNCH, another rape victim, Chiamaka Sylvia, narrated how she was gang-raped by six men in Imo, Owerri State when she was an undergraduate at Imo State University in 2005.
The now mother of two and teacher said the head of the gang deflowered her and that unfortunately, he was someone she knew.
It happened around 2005/2006 when I was a 100-Level student of Imo State University. My rapist was someone that I had seen before, like a week before the incident. He knew somebody that I knew. One day, I was on my way home from school when I saw him. I knew him but I didn’t know him too well and I was young and naïve. He was driving a Mercedes-Benz car at the time and he was with his friend. He stopped and asked me where I was going so he could drop me at home, I hesitated but he assured me all was well so I entered his car.
I told him I was going to Agu, a town in Owerri, but he stopped by at Prefab. He said his friend who was also in the car wanted to pick up something quickly and that after that he would take me to my house. When we got to Prefab, he asked me to come into the house saying that he wanted to do something quickly. I said no but because of my naivety, I followed him into the house. When we got into the house, he told me to sit and wait.
After some time, he locked the door. I stood up to stop him but he pushed me and dragged me inside and asked me to take off my clothes.
I started crying and begging him and before I knew it, five other guys came into the room and started beating me. At some point they started tearing off my clothes. The whole place looked tattered, there was an old bed in the room with no bed sheets. The gang leader started first. He forced his penis inside my private parts while his friends held me down. I screamed and begged them to stop but they didn’t listen. Their leader deflowered me and others took turns to rape me. The episode started around 4 pm that day and ended in the night. I was extremely weak and tired and they dragged me into a bathroom and locked me inside.
I thought they were going to kill me because I wondered why they left me after what they did to me. They also robbed me, they took everything that I had on me and my phone. They later dragged me inside the car because I was in pain and dropped me at an unknown place and threw my SIM card at me. I saw a motorcyclist and begged him to drop me at my friend’s hostel. My friends called my parents that night and they were devastated at the news.
Sylvia said her parents left Lagos for Owerri the next day and took her to a hospital, where she was admitted for three days.
One of my uncles advised my father to leave the case because the rapists might come and kill me. My father is dead so I’m not sure if he made a formal complaint to the police,
Sylvia said she was speaking up now because of Omozuwa’s case.
It brought back memories. This is what I have to live with every day. The memories are always new every time. I want people to be bold enough to speak up. I want him (assailant) to know that his sins will catch up with him. He knew that I knew him, he thought he was untouchable because of his father’s influence. Because of this, I didn’t get any form of justice.
In fact, the next time I saw him after the incident was seven years ago at a mall in Lagos. I went towards him and was screaming ‘rapist’ but he quickly took to his heels.
His sister reached out to me and apologised. She asked me to forgive and forget what happened. I told her that forgiveness would come when he apologised to me. He has changed his Instagram name.
I was not brave enough in the past to speak up because the incident still affects me. I’m always overprotective of my children and scared to leave them alone. I’m always demoralised; I get panic attacks. I think it’s a trauma I have to live it,
Another rape victim, 24-year-old Victoria Sorochi, said she was assaulted by a gang of hoodlums on her way back from church during her undergraduate days in 2016.
The victim, who was 20 years old and in her third year at the University of Benin at the time, said she left a campus fellowship meeting that day with two of her friends to return to her lodge at Ekosodin.
We got to a place called Primary School and we were accosted by four guys wielding machetes. They asked my friends to run or they were going to cut them into bits so they had no choice but to run for their lives.
I was taken into an uncompleted building and was sexually molested by two of the four hoodlums. Their leader slapped me and as I fell to the ground in tears, he warned me that if I said anything else, he was going to cut my throat and leave my body to rot there. He forced himself on me and passed me to the next person before they all ran off.
Sexual violence against women and girls has been on the front burner in the past two weeks after a 100-level student of the University of Benin, Uwaila Omozuwa, was allegedly raped and murdered inside a church in Benin, Edo State.
Uwaila was said to have gone to read at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Miracle Sanctuary Mega Parish, Edo Province 10, Ikpoba Hill area of Benin City on May 27, 2020.
Her assailants were said to have forced their way into the church, where they raped and struck her in the head with a fire extinguisher.
The church security guard, who had just resumed duty, wanted to collect the key to the church when he discovered that someone was already inside.
The guard reportedly found Uwaila in a pool of blood, called for help and the victim was rushed to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. However, Uwaila died last Saturday.
Her killing sparked protests on the streets of Benin City and outrage by Nigerians on social media, with the hashtag #JusticeforUwa trending on Twitter for days.
Following the outrage, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, deployed a tactical squad to Benin City to unravel Uwaila’s killers and bring them to book.
President Muhammadu Buhari also called for an investigation into the victim’s death and asked that the murderers be fished out.
But less than a week after Uwaila’s rape and murder, Barakat Bello, an 18-year-old student of the Federal College of Animal and Production Technology, Moore Plantation, Apata, Ibadan, Oyo State, suffered the same fate.
The teenager, undertaking the National Diploma programme in Science Laboratory Technology, was reportedly attacked on Monday at her home in the Akinyele area of Ibadan. Her body was reportedly found in a pool of blood at the back of the house.
The deceased, a member of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, was buried on Tuesday according to Islamic rites.
Her murder also sparked protests on Twitter with the hashtag, #JusticeforBarakat.
Also on Monday, three armed men allegedly gang-raped a 17-year-old street hawker at the Oja-Oba Market, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State.
The incidents have since led to a huge public outcry in the country, by lawyers, politicians, celebrities and others.
As the protests and demands for the justice of rape victims ensued, Amnesty International called on the President to declare rape a national crisis in the country.
Meanwhile, Saturday PUNCH findings showed that a majority of cases in Nigeria are not reported due to fear of stigmatisation by the victims. Therefore, data on rape cases are very limited.
However, in December 2019, several reports quoted the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen, as saying an estimated two million Nigerian women and girls were sexually assaulted annually.
Tallen was reported to have urged Nigerians to desist from pushing the blame on victims when a rape occurred, adding that rape, in addition to bringing physical and emotional assault on the victims, was a scourge that should be fought.
Africa Unite, an arm of the United Nations Women campaigning against gender-based violence, in a 2019 report stated that anywhere between 13 per cent and 45 per cent of women in sub-Saharan Africa experienced assault by an “intimate partner during their lifetime.”
Similarly, the Women At Risk Foundation in a 2018 report said the statistics at its disposal revealed that over 10,000 girls were being raped in Nigeria daily. WARIF founder, Dr. Kemi DaSilva-Ibru, was reported to have stated this at a workshop to train law enforcement officers in Lagos.
She stated that the figure was obtained from data got from police stations, hospitals and primary health care centres.
Likewise, in their 2019 findings, a non-profit organisation, NOI Polls, together with Gallup USA, stated that about one in three girls had experienced sexual assault before they reached 25 years.
NOI Polls explained that 38 per cent of the respondents said the sexual offenders were strangers, 24 per cent said it was their neighbours who raped them, 18 per cent said the offenders were their acquaintances and relatives, while 16 per cent of the victims said other categories of people were the offenders.
In 2015, the Federal Government enacted the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, aimed at banning all forms of violence and providing justice for such crimes.
Among others, the law stated that a person convicted of rape was liable to life imprisonment, depending on some circumstances. For example, in a case where the offender is below 14 years old, they are liable to 14 years imprisonment.
The Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had in 2019 tasked the Federal Government to intensify efforts to combat gender-based violence, hold perpetrators accountable and ensure that victims can seek legal redress.
Nigerians can report rape committed 50 years ago – NAPTIP
Meanwhile, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other related offences has called on rape victims not to be afraid of stigmatisation but to report to the agency, even if the crime was committed 50 years ago.
The NAPTIP Director-General, Julie Okah-Donli, stated this in Abuja during an interview with one of our correspondents, adding that rape might sometimes degenerate to murder when the victims refused to speak up.
Okah-Donli added that the government was making efforts such as securing more convictions of rape suspects and updating the Sex Offenders Register to ensure that sexual and domestic abuses abated.
According to the register, there are 11 convicted persons, 18 incidents reported and 21 verified reported cases.
Unfortunately, rape cases are deteriorating into rape-and-kill. We probably heard of this (Uwalia’s case) perhaps because the victim was killed. This is why I always plead with rape victims to always report. If you are raped, please report, because next time, you may not be lucky, they may kill you. And that is exactly what is happening.
A lot of rape victims still don’t report cases; they feel stigmatised. But Nigeria has gone beyond that stage now – we deal decisively with rape suspects. There is no statute of limitation for rape. If you are raped, even 50 years ago, please report. We will make sure you get justice.
Reps to engage state assemblies on anti-rape laws
The House of Representatives has scheduled a meeting with Speakers of the state Houses of Assembly next week on how to ensure the domestication of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act and the Child Rights Act in all the states of the federation.
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said a virtual meeting had become necessary due to the recent escalation of sexual and gender-based violence in the country.
Gbajabiamila said this in Abuja on Friday when some sexual and gender-based civil society organisations visited his office, after protesting at the Force Headquarters against rising rape cases. He added that the House would consider working on sexual violence-related laws to make them conform to the current realities.
Some of the CSOs at the meeting include Women Advocacy Research and Documentation Centre, Education as a Vaccine, Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme, Action Aid, Malala Fund, Heir Women Development, and Disability Rights Advocacy Centre.
Based on the demand by the CSOs, the Speaker also said he would mandate the House Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19 to recommend groups working on sexual and gender-based violence for classification as essential services and be allowed to operate during restrictions and lockdowns.
Gbajabiamila said he was aware that about 27 states had yet to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition and Child Rights Acts. He stated that the National Assembly would take the initiatives to its state counterparts.
I intend to write and communicate with all the Speakers of all 36 states, for them to be proactive about this piece of legislation. Hopefully, we will set that up sometime next week, to have a meeting, obviously via Zoom conference, with all the Speakers on a single agenda, which will be the issue of Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act and the Child Rights Act and the domestication of same.
Protesters storm police headquarters, Lagos command, demand justice for victims
Meanwhile, before visiting Gbajabiamila, the protesters stormed the Force Headquarters, Abuja, in a march against the rising incidents of rape, sexual violence, assault against women and incest in the country.
The protesters demanded justice for the victims and a declaration of a state of emergency on gender-based violence.
The action paralysed traffic on the Shehu Shagari Way, Asokoro, for some minutes.
While insisting on justice for the victims, the activists told the police authorities and other security agencies to devise effective strategies to checkmate the rising cases of sexual assault in the country.
The group in a statement said it would present a memo to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the Federal Executive Council on effective institutional response to SGBV in Nigeria.
They also demanded the domestication of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act and Child Rights Act in all the states of the federation and establishment of Sexual Assault Referral Centres in every state, backed with a coordinated, sustainably-funded support system.
They further advocated disciplinary measures against police officers and state prosecutors that mishandled SGBV cases.
Also on Friday, a group of protesters stormed the Lagos State Police Command in Ikeja to protest the rising cases of rape, sexual violence, assault against women, and incest.
The angry protesters demanded that there should be a declaration of a state of emergency on GBV.
Dressed in black clothes, the protesters also demanded justice for Uwalia, Barakat and other rape victims in the country.
Yobe gov, CAN, NSCIA, Afenifere, Sanwo-Olu, Fayemi, Oyetola’s wives condemn rape
Some public office holders, including the Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Mai-Mala Buni, as well as wives of the governors of Lagos, Ekiti and Osun states – Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, Mrs Bisi Fayemi and Mrs Kafayat Oyetola – have all condemned the rising cases of rape in the country.
Religious and sociopolitical organisations such as the Christian Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and Afenifere also condemned the act.
In a statement by his spokesman, Mallam Mamman Mohammed, on Friday, Buni vowed that rapists would be made to face the full wrath of the law.
He also tasked community leaders in the state to be vigilant and report any rape case in their domains to the appropriate authorities.
Mrs. Joke Sanwo-Olu, in a post on her Twitter handle, @JokeSanwoolu, said rape must be eliminated from Nigeria.
For us in Lagos State, we have zero tolerance for rape because it is nothing but a bestial act. It is a heinous and abhorrent crime that must be collectively stamped out of our society. We must all say #NoToRape, #NoToSexualViolence and #NoToDomesticViolence.
Together with Wife of Deputy Governor, Mrs. Oluremi Hamzat, Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation and all relevant agencies of @followlasg, we say #NoToRape, #NotInOurState and #NotInOurCountry.
Also, Mrs. Fayemi, who said she was initially reluctant to write about Uwaila’s ordeal because she was “tired, exhausted and weary” of such sad events, decried that the world had become unsafe for women.
We need functional Sexual Assault Referral Centres in every state of the country, and every woman and child who needs help must be able to call someone who can respond. We would like to see law enforcement officers who will fight for justice for every victim and not be the ones enabling a culture of impunity to thrive. We require skilled professionals to provide psychosocial support to survivors and not freelancers trying to fill in the gaps. We need shelters to keep vulnerable women and their children safe,
Also, Mrs. Oyetola expressed concern over the rising cases of rape in the country and demanded the cooperation of parents and guardians to end the menace.
Speaking in her office at the Government House, Oke-Fia, Osogbo, Oyetola urged people not to conceal incidents of rape so as not to prevent justice from being served.
CAN described rising rape cases as a disturbing trend.
In an interview, Adebayo Oladeji, the Special Assistant (Media and Communications) to CAN President, Rev Samson Ayokunle, said,
It is disheartening, disappointing and unacceptable that rape victims have not been able to get justice. My counsel for the government is to review the existing relevant laws with a view to removing all the obstacles.
Similarly, the Head of Media and Publicity, NSCIA, Ibrahim Aselemi, said,
As an Islamic organisation, we frown on the violation of the sanctity of any woman. During the public hearing by the Senate on the bill seeking to criminalise sexual harassment in public institutions, we participated fully.
Also, the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said the Federal Government had now been challenged to take rape seriously like every high crime.
It is a shame that people commit this crime and get away with it like so many crimes.
The Federal Government must rise up to its law enforcement responsibilities. Rape must be given serious attention; any government that spares the victims of any crime will overlook others.