As Nigeria battles the fast-rising rape epidemic, a man identified as Kunle Osa, in Ibadan, Oyo State capital has been accused of raping a 12-year old primary five pupil.
According to the victim who narrated her ordeal to our correspondent, Mr Osa deflowered her and continued to have sex with her until he was caught on Sunday, May, 31.
The incident happened at Ajobo community, Ojo at Akinyele Local Government – a local government where three other cases of rape and death have been widely reported in the past few weeks.
Victim narrates painful tales
It all started three months ago when Mr Osa invited the victim to his room to help him get a soft drink. Upon the return of the girl, the alleged rapist locked his door against her, lobbied her and forced the primary five pupil into sex.
“After having sex with me, he threatened to kill me if I tell anybody. He brought something like ‘juju’ out. He told me to clean my eyes so that residents around won’t notice. I was bittered but kept it to myself because he vowed to kill me and run away”.
“I was scared of my life because he often monitored my movements. Once he sees me with two or more people, he will call me and remind me that if I mistakenly tell anyone, the reward is death”, the young lady recounted.
Mr Osa did not stop after the first attempt but continues to molest her victim until they had the last sexual intercourse on the day of the last Ramadan Sallah popularly referred to as El-el-Fitri.
“The last we had was on the day of Sallah. He makes people feel like he was just caring but there was more to it. Once he called me, I must obey because of the death threat attached to the sex that has become a ritual between us.”
The victim later told our correspondent that May 31 was a day of blessing for her after Mr Osa was caught while trying to rape her again. He was caught by a neighbour who raised alarm to expose his actions against her.
“I felt very happy when he was caught because it means I will be out of bondage. It was at that point I then made my experience known to the public. They held him down and later called my father who returned with the police. At the police custody, he confessed that he violated me”, she told our correspondent.
Difficulties with justice
In a chat with our correspondent, the victim’s father who is into motorcycle business said neighbours put calls across to him on May 31 while he was on the road transporting a passenger. They told him on the phone that they had caught Mr Osa who had been molesting his daughter for months.
As a father, he lost control of the motorcycle, pleaded with his passenger that he cannot continue the journey and needed to attend to an urgent issue at home.
“When I got home, I saw crowded people who already held Osa down. They told me he wanted to run but they did not allow him. The people living with us in the area then told me to go and report at the police station”.
Speaking further, Mr Raji said he visited Alaraka police station in Ojo to complain about the sorrowful acts of Mr Osa.
“When I got the police station to report all that transpired, and an officer followed me to arrest him. I went with my daughter whose statement was taken and that of the rapist. At the police station, my daughter confirmed that Osa consistently violated her.”
Our correspondent was told that Mr Osa was subsequently locked up in the cell. Meanwhile, he was freed four days after due to the complainant’s absence at the police station.
“I took my daughter to Adeooyo Maternity Teaching Hospital in Ibadan to carry out a medical examination on her and we were told truly, someone had forceful sex with her“, Mr Raji said when asked for the reasons why he did not visit the police station until four days after.
Our correspondent was also privileged to get the medical report issued to the victim’s family and it partly read that: “Vagina examination revealed that hyperemic area and bruises in the vulva. Hymen not intact. Vagina swab for wet preparation did not show sperm cells”.
While Mr Raji explained this to the police, he was told that the law did not permit police to keep suspect more than 48-hours. Hence, they freed the suspect.
The victim’s father later told us that he was asked to seek justice from God because he did not show up early enough.
A lawyer who spoke about the matter to our correspondent, Tunde Alani said: “although, the police may be right not to have kept the suspect for more than 48-hours but it was wrong to have freed the man without the knowledge of the complainant”.
“It should also be on record that rape is an offence against the state. Even if the family of the victim told the police that they are not interested in the matter, they have also committed the offence because the matter is a criminal case”.
Neighbours testify against the alleged rapist
Some residents of Akinyele also testified against Mr Osa in a different interview with this newspaper last weekend. One of them who simply addressed herself as Iya Tobi said the community residents have been suspecting the relationship between him and his victim for long.
“We have been noticing his strange move with the girl for a couple of months now and we put our closed eyes on them. Sometimes the girl comes out of the room with a bitter look but when you ask her what’s wrong, she will say nothing”
Another resident pleaded not to be named because of the relationship he has with Mr Osa disclosed that he has warned him against violating the young girl on several occasions but he never listened until he was recently caught.
Why we released suspect – Police
The police officer in charge of the case said the refusal of the victim’s family to follow up the matter appropriately led to the release of the suspects.
The officer who asked to be addressed as Inspector Crime did not explain why the family members were not briefed before the release of the suspect.
She also did not speak on the allegation against them that police asked the victim to get justice from God.
“What we should do was done. We arrested the culprits and locked him up. But after then the girl’s family did not show up and we cannot detain suspect more than 48 hours. So, we had to grant him bail”.
She also said that Coronavirus lockdown could not allow the police to arraign him the following day but promised that Mr Osa’s surety will make him available anytime the family is ready to take the matter further.
Efforts were also made to know if the spokesperson of Oyo police command is aware of the matter but Olugbenga Fadeyi did not respond to enquiries.
On several occasions, calls were put across to Mr Osa to have his side of the story. He answered our correspondent call the first time but upon listening to the rape allegation, he cut the call.
He has since then failed to answer or reply text messages on the matter.
Our correspondent also got in touch with his mother, known as Iya Kunle. She did not disclose her son’s whereabouts.
Many families have been made to cry recently following the high rate of rape incidents in Nigeria. Our correspondent recalled the case of Barakat Bello. She was killed after the violators raped her.
Others include Vera Omozuwa, Hadiza Saidu’s daughter and niece, Azeezat, Grace and many more cases.
In fact, on Monday, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Adamu said that at least 799 rape suspects have been arrested in the past five months. Of all, 631 cases conclusively investigated and charged to court while 52 cases are still under investigation.
Laws not working?
Findings have shown that there are at least five legal provisions which provide access to justice for rape victims.
Critics and right activists have however said these laws on different occasions fail to help victims get justice due to loopholes in implementation.
The laws are the Criminal Code, applicable in all the southern states; the Penal Code, applicable in all the northern states and the Criminal Laws of Lagos – applicable only in Lagos State.
There is equally the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, (VAPP) applicable only in the FCT and the Child Rights Act applicable in the states that have domesticated it.
Unlike Nigeria – in some other countries like India, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Iran, Pakistan and Cuba, rape is punishable by death.
Lawmakers cry out
A lawmaker at the House of Representatives, James Faleke, recommended that persons found guilty of rape should be castrated. The House adopted the motion condemning sexual violence but rejected his prayer.
Also, a senator – Sandy Onor, who is pushing for stricter legislation against the crime said any approach must be holistic and effective.
Last Tuesday, the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, promised to take decisive action against rapists and also domesticate laws protecting rape victims.
President Muhammadu Buhari in his Democracy Day address also said: “I am particularly upset at recent incidents of rape, especially of very young girls. The Police are pursuing these cases with a view to bringing perpetrators of these heinous crimes to swift justice”.