By Elizabeth Ogunbamowo
Lead us not into temptation, a phrase in the Holy Book pleads. The plea, a line from Our Lord’s Prayer, appeared not to have been answered on the day that Inyang Edet Bassey, 61-year-old man allegedly defiled, in Lagos, a six-year-old schoolgirl called Joanna (surname withheld).
As things stand now, there’s no way of knowing whether he prayed the prayer or not on that fateful day before he was led to do what he did to the girl. But going by the comment of his wife, Mrs. Princess Bassey who said she couldn’t tell if her husband actually perpetrated the act but doesn’t know where the temptation came from, it is perhaps safer to say that he didn’t. Or, that he did but was overcome by the temptation, all the same.
But from whichever angle you look at it, it has led to the emotional and mental fragmentation of the six-year-old innocent girl. Mathematically speaking, the case of a 61-year-old man defiling a six-year-old girl is like 61 trying to divide six; what you will get at the end of the day is not whole number but fractions and fractures. That’s what we have here. Almost everyone connected to the story has, in one way or the other has been left emotionally fractured by the shameful act: the poor innocent girl who was defiled; the old lecherous man who allegedly perpetrated the evil deed, his wife who serves as the head teacher as well as the girl’s custodian and mentor and of course, the girl’s parents.
Suspect’s wife speaks on the matter
According to the report, Joanna, a primary 2 pupil of a school in Lagos was, on the 2nd of November, 2020 dropped off at the house of her head teacher who usually offers after-school lessons to the young girl. But the moment the head teacher stepped out of the house to pay utility bill, within that period, her husband, was alleged to have defiled the minor by inserting his fingers into her vagina. The family of the victim is said to have not only reported the case at the police station but also gone for medical evaluation at Mother and Child Hospital to establish the extent of the damage done to their daughter’s genitals.
Speaking with Saturday Sun on the matter, the wife of the accused, Mrs. Bassey, admitted that she truly organizes after-school lessons in her house but not for only the child, contrary to report. “Due to this pandemic, school closes by 12pm,” she said. “But on that day, I went to pay the bill before the children could get to my house for the lesson. Before I came back, they were already there. I just taught them but Joanna never said anything to me. I had finished teaching that day and parents had come to take their wards home including Joanna’s mum. But not long after that I saw Joanna and her mother close to the school and wondered why they had not gone. I asked her why she was there and she said she wants to see me. Immediately, she said that, my heart skipped. And when we got back inside, the mother narrated the incident.”
Bassey said her mouth was agape as Joanna’s mother was narrating the incident because it was shocking. She said the father of the girl later reported the issue at Langbasa Police Station, Owode, Lagos, from where police officers were directed to arrest her husband.
“When we got to the police station and they asked the girl to narrate her part of the story, she said she had gone to pee at the toilet when my husband started inserting his hand in her private part. She told him to stop but he refused. They asked her if he inserted his penis and she said no, that it was only his hand.”
Bassey said her husband had been detained since that time. When she was asked if it was true that her husband fingered the little girl, she said she wasn’t there and couldn’t tell but doesn’t know where the temptation came from in their 37-years of marriage. She said her family is pleading with the girl’s father to withdraw the case while also calling family elders to help beg the father of the child from continuing with the case.
“I have called my uncles to help me beg. I’ve been going to his house to beg, even staying up to 10pm sometimes but he’s usually not around.” She said the incident had made her lose her job at the school where she was a head teacher.
Girl’s father complains of frustration at getting justice
But when approached for his comment on the matter, the girl’s father who said he doesn’t want his family name in print only complained about the Investigating Police Officer in charge of the case who he said is trying making the issue tiring and cumbersome for him. He told Saturday Sun that the officer originally assigned the case was not available owing to some unascertainable reasons but the IPO assigned now, one John Lawson, he alleged, is making things difficult for him.
He said: “He keeps insulting me with all manner of words. He calls me a poor man, and I have been the one sponsoring his logistics to court on the three occasions that we appeared in court. And, I’m getting tired. The last time, I spent almost N14,000 on transport fare from Ajah to Magbon. And even at the police station, there have been so many payments made, like paying N2,000 for the typing of the case report and N3,000 for them to be able to follow me to make the arrest. The IPO is my major problem. Now that the man that defiled my daughter has been remanded and is set to go to correctional centre. They have to do COVID-19 test, but the police insist that I’m to pay for the test.”
The man said the man looks relaxed and doesn’t look like someone with COVID-19. He said his family has been psychologically devastated by the experience. Right now, he said his wife and children had been moved to another environment while he’s planning on a permanent relocation for his family.
“I don’t feel safe anymore in this environment because the way the family of the man keeps coming here to plead is annoying to me. I feel uncomfortable in the environment because when you’re trying to get justice you might not know what will come your way. The whole problem is huge on me. I’m even trying to seek for loans so I can move out of the environment. My wife has stopped her job because she works in the same school. My second daughter was a student of that same school and we had to withdraw her from the school because it’s affecting them psychologically.”
The devastated father said he’s looking for how to put his children back in school in another location while his wife is also seeking another employment in a new location. He added that he also lost a contract worth N300, 000 due to the case as he had to be in court on the day he was to execute the job.
“I now understand why some people go for negotiations when they have situations like this rather than take the person to the police station but I’m doing this because of other children that this man might harm tomorrow if he’s allowed to walk freely on the street.”