Forty-five-old Sunday Salami, who is alleged to have sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl, is now gnashing his teeth in regret, in the custody of the police in Lagos State.
Salami allegedly committed the criminal act in an uncompleted building located on Falade Lane, in Bariga area of the state. The suspect who is popularly known in the area as ‘Ose’ is alleged to have lured the teenager, Stella (not her real name), to the uncompleted building, where he held her for over 30 minutes and sexually defiled her.
Sunday Sun gathered that the shameful incident started when Salami, who is married with four children, under a playful guise, chased Stella around his compound with a catapult and entrapped her in an uncompleted building near his house, where he seized the chance to pin her down and then rape her. Witnesses who saw Salami chasing the girl erroneously thought that he was just being his usual avuncular self. But they never knew that he had an ulterior motive on that fateful day.
The rape survivor, an indigene of Kwara State, told Sunday Sun that she came to live in Lagos with her aunt after her father’s death three years ago, adding, “My still mother lives in Ilorin. I used to stay with my parents until my father died, and my mother couldn’t fend for us, her children. So I was asked to come to stay in Lagos with my aunty.”
Narrating her ordeal, Stella said she was on an errand by her guardian when Salami accosted and raped her. She said her guardian popularly known in the neighbourhood as Iya Meta (mother of three) in the neighbourhood, sent her to carry a crate of soft drinks from a shop at Falade Lane.
“On getting there, Baba Ose aimed a catapult at me. I thought he would shoot so I ran into a house under renovation just beside Baba Ose’s house. When I ran in there, Salami rushed and closed the door. He then pushed me down, pulled up my clothes, grabbed my pant forcefully, and then raped me. I screamed but none of our neighbours could hear me because he covered my mouth with his hand as he raped me. I kept crying for help but no one heard me. When he finished, he warned me never to tell anyone what he had done. He threatened to kill me if I ever spoke to anyone about it,” she said amid tears.
Stella also disclosed that some children playing and loitering around the uncompleted house were the ones that saw what happened. “Three children saw Baba Ose and noticed that I was crying. They asked him what he was doing to me, he told them that he was beating me and told them to leave immediately.”
However, the bubble burst for Salami when Iya Meta, Stella’s aunt, became worried as she wondered why Stella took so long to bring the crate of soft drinks she sent her to carry. “I wondered why she spent almost 40 minutes to bring the crate of drinks because the shop is just a stone throw away from my kiosk. When I went out to look for her, I met her on the road sweating profusely. I was very angry when I saw her because I thought she had gone to play instead of bringing my drinks. But she denied playing and lied that she was delayed by the woman that was to give her the crate of soft drinks. I was furious and wanted to go and confront the woman to know why she held Stella for so long. But when I wanted to go she held me back saying that she told me a lie. It was then I began to suspect that something was wrong. I asked her again to tell the truth about where she went. It was then that she told me that Baba Ose held her in an uncompleted building and raped her. That was when I raised alarm because the shock was too much for me to bear.”
Many of the residents that gathered at the scene said they were furious at the news, because according to them, Salami had become notorious for allegedly lusting after under-aged girls in the community. “This is not the first time we have heard about Salami’s defilement cases,” some of the residents disclosed to Sunday Sun. “Just last year the news of how he raped two little girls was all over the street. And one of the victims was a physically challenged minor. The police should thoroughly investigate this matter. How can we have a paedophile living here with us here?,” an elder in the community said.
A community leader and social worker of Child Protection Network (CPN), Shomolu Local Government Area, Comrade Toyin Okanlawon who got wind of the child abuse incident, moved with police officers of Bariga Police Station to arrest of Salami. Okanlawon said the rape incident was at the verge of being swept under the carpet again by some elders in the community before the police arrived. “When we got there, some residents and elders in the streets were begging and trying to reach a compromise between Salami and Iya Meta, not to get the police involved in the matter.”
Stating his own side of the story, Salami said: “I didn’t have sex with her. On that day, I saw her standing in the compound. So I aimed a catapult at her but she said I wouldn’t dare to shoot her. So I started chasing her till she ran into the uncompleted housed. I didn’t know the room she ran into. When she finally came out, I flogged her with a broom and then let her go.”
However, some furious residents and eyewitnesses hinted to Sunday Sun that no broom was seen at the scene and Salami could not produce the broom he claimed to have used to flog the girl. “Again we didn’t see any scar on Stella’s body to show that she was actually flogged with a broom,” they chorused.
Confirming the incident, the Divisional Police Officer, Bariga Police Station, CSP Ayobo Nathaniel Ijaola, hinted that the case has been transferred to the Gender Unit at the headquarters of the Lagos Police Command, for further investigation and prosecution of the suspect. He further warned residents to always report criminal matters to the police and avoid trying to settle the matter themselves. “Residents should desist from taking laws into their own hands. The suspect was about to go scot-free after assaulting a minor until we came into the matter. We have done our investigations and have transferred Salami to the state police headquarters for prosecution.”