Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Mrs. Ugochinyere Akpu, from Ezinwachi-Ndibe Mkpohoro community in Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, is heartbroken. She is emotionally traumatised because her three-year-old daughter was defiled by a 16-year-old boy recently.
In the second week of April this year, she entrusted her two female children to the care of her sister-in-law who lived in Amachara in the same local government area of the state to enable her prepare for a business trip to Onitsha. Little did she know that evil was lurking in the shadows.
With tears cascading her cheeks, Ugochinyere said that she had gone to her sister-in-law’s residence to see her children when one of her daughters drew her attention to the alleged sexual abuse of the minor.
Ugochinyere narrated thus: “I kept my children with my sister-in-law so that I could travel to Onitsha to buy the goods I sell. Later, I went there to give them something. When I was leaving, the elder sister to the victim started crying and insisted that she must go with me.
“I refused and told her to stay back as I would be going to Onitsha the following day. All the people in that compound wanted to hold her so that I could leave but she slipped from their grip.
“The suspect came after her to where I was and held her. That was when girl opened up. She said, ‘Mummy, let me tell you what he was doing to my younger sister that was bad.’
“Because of that, I took her home on my motorcycle. At home, she told me that Victor’s younger brother was the first to catch him when he, Victor, was defiling her younger sister. She said she would not believe until she saw him herself. Later, she caught Victor in the act.
“Then I flogged her and queried why she didn’t tell her father or aunty who was around when this thing happened.
“I found out that each time my three-year-old farted, pus would come out from her private part, smelling. I used hot water to dab her private part and then told my husband my observations.
“We went to a hospital in Afikpo for examination. I don’t know whether they bribed them in that hospital and the man then told us that truly, my daughter was defiled based on their findings but that she was okay.
“Every night, my daughter would be running temperature and pus would be coming out from her private part. We proceeded to the teaching hospital in Abakaliki.
“There, the doctor said that my daughter’s private part was badly damaged and that she would not be able to conceive or give birth when she is of age.
“Next time we visited the hospital, another doctor examined her and told us that my daughter had wounds inside her private part, that she smelt and that we would need to go to Enugu for better care.”
Her husband, Mr Joseph Akpu, concurred. He alleged that the family of the suspect was recalcitrant over efforts to give the child adequate medical attention.
He also alleged that a relative of the suspect, a former officer with the Department of State Security (DSS) had threatened to use his influence to deal with them, if they failed to close the matter.
Akpu said: “In the course of this, I told them, ‘let us go and know what to do to my daughter.’ But they refused to listen to me.
“At a point, I had to invite the police at the area command and they went and arrested the suspect. The next day, the suspect’s uncle came and told me that he did not come to beg me, that I could do whatever I wanted to do.
“This thing lingered until last week Thursday, when they went to the hospital to examine the little girl. They didn’t finish in time so they slept over. On Friday they came back and narrated their findings.
“They told me that the little baby has been destroyed; that her womanhood was no more there. And that they discovered that there were a lot of wounds and that something was coming out of her body.
“On May 5, the suspect’s father came to my house with a retired DSS officer. The DSS man told me that Victor was underage and that I would not achieve anything from the matter.
“He said that he had worked with the DSS for many years before retiring; that he could do many things. He accused me of raping someone. He said that he would tell the world that I raped someone years ago.
“He said it was sometime back. I don’t know the time that one happened; sometime in 1992 or 1990. I told him that there was no problem. I went to my lawyer and he told me that I should go to the police and report the matter.
“So, I went to the area command in Afikpo and reported the case. When I was going, he sent me a text message that the victim he accused me of raping was around, and that there was a witness. He also sent another message, where he said I should be preparing for my defence.
“I am scared. I don’t have any help. I am confused. I am tired because of the threats from that man,” Akpu said.
At the suspect’s home in Afikpo, his father, Onuikara Ogbonnaya Unya, said his son was still in police detention.
Unya, a retired warden who worked at the Ebonyi Command of the Nigeria Prisons Service, said he was saddened about the alleged act.
He said his family had contributed financially to the medical examination and treatment of the little girl, contrary to the claim by the victim’s family.
He said the girl’s father, who allegedly ensured that the suspect had remained in police custody for more than three weeks, rejected every plea that the matter be settled amicably.
Unya dismissed the allegation that his relation, the ex-DSS officer, was harassing and threatening the victim’s father. Unya said, since the victim’s father was not cooperating in having the matter resolved amicably, his father had to dig up the man’s rape case, which allegedly happened many years ago.
The retired warder said the father of the defiled little girl had also raped his own stepdaughter sometime in 1998 when the girl was about six years old.
He said although members of his family were deeply sorry about the ugly act allegedly perpetrated by his son, Victor, the victim’s father, who he described as his archenemy, was proving too difficult and stubborn, forcing them to exhume his own rape case that happened many years ago.
Unya said: “On April 14, Palm Sunday, my wife told me that my son was accused of raping a little girl. I was shocked, because I know what rape is about. And the person whose child was raped was my archenemy.
“The man raped my daughter in the year 1998. That my daughter was six years old then. But to avoid trouble, I told him that we are relations, and that there was no need continuing with the case, and that we should end it.
“I told him that if he did it, he should not do it again. By that time, his mother was still alive, with some of his relations.
“My people were disappointed. They said because the child is my stepdaughter, I didn’t want to take the matter seriously. But I explained to them that we were relations and that I didn’t want any case. I said it wasn’t necessary to continue with the case.
But they said that they were taking up the matter. So they took the matter to the police, registered the case, and the police took them to a medical centre. They examined her and discovered that my stepdaughter was raped.
“With my sympathetic mind, I didn’t want the matter to go further. I continued to close it until finally a new divisional police officer (DPO) from Ibadan came to Afikpo. He saw the file, opened it and called me back to the station. He asked me if that was what happened, and I said yes. He asked me the action I took, and I told him that I didn’t want the case to go further.
“He was livid. He said somebody defiled my daughter and I was saying that I didn’t want the case to go further. He said he was sending that case to court. I shed tears.
“The following day, his senior brother who stays in Yola came to me crying and begging me that he didn’t want his brother to be jailed. I told him how far I had gone with the case; that it was their mother and relations that caused everything.
“I still assisted him by telling him to go to this person to help him talk to the DPO, which he did. The person is now late. They met the man and, in the course of their interaction, one of them told the DPO that somebody from Ibadan was married to their daughter.
“That was how the DPO changed his mind. He later referred me to the inspector in charge of crime who told me what to do. Then he was released.”
Unya said he sympathised with the Akpu family about the ordeal the little girl was going through, noting that he was ready to render the necessary assistance to ensure that the little girl got adequate medical attention. He also said he was ready for a peaceful resolution of the matter.
Also speaking, the retired DSS officer, Mr. Charles Ogbonna, dismissed the allegations against him. He said that he only reminded Akpu of the alleged rape case against him since he (Akpu) was adamant.
“I only told him: ‘Since you are adamant, since you don’t want this boy to come out so that we can resolve it as we resolved your own, we are going to revisit that case because the matter was reported to the police station.’”
Akpu, however, denied the allegation, insisting that he never defiled Unya’s daughter.
Akpu said: “It is not true. This thing happened in 1992; it wasn’t 1998. It was the time we were in old Abia State. And I did not do that thing.
“I had issues with one of his daughters when she went into my mother’s house, which I wasn’t comfortable with. She would insult me and I told her to stay away from my mother’s house, but she refused.
“There was a time one of his daughters entered my mother’s house and wanted to vomit there and do all sorts of things. I confronted her. When the issue was trying to escalate, my mother told me to calm down.
“By the time she came out of that problem, she said that she must deal with me. I didn’t do it. After I was arrested by the police, I stayed there for many weeks. By the time I was brought out, they came and apologised to us”, he said.
When contacted, the police public relations officer in the state, Deputy Superintendent of Police Loveth Odah, said that the matter had been transferred to the state police headquarters, adding that more investigations were being conducted.