■ Parents allege ex-convict used her for ritual
By MATTHEW DIKE
The past nine years have been one long period of psychological and physical trauma as well as agony for 18-year-old Chi (not her real name), who was raped when she was nine years old by one James Akpan. Though the culprit was later tried and sentenced to 15-month prison term for the criminal act, which he had since completed and moved on, the victim has been carrying the brunt of that horrendous experience.
The rape incident has practically destroyed her life and even led to her being withdrawn from school. At the family’s home in the Ajegunle area of Lagos metropolis, May 2, almost two weeks ago, was for the family a day overcast with gloom and despair as it was a day that Chi should have celebrated her 18th birthday with thanksgiving, joy and the conviviality generally associated with such occasions as friends and relations revel in the beauty of the day. But this was not so for the hapless teenager.
Today, she is in a pathetic state, deformed and suffering from health challenges. The once happy and effervescent girl, who was doing well in school is now a caricature of herself, unable to walk by herself, unable to talk audibly. Her mental faculties have been so badly affected that she behaves abnormally. What is living is just the shell of the once beautiful girl. Meanwhile Akpan, who is now 51, and a father of two children from two different women, is out and about, carrying on with his life’s pursuits, after serving the 15-month jail term.
When Sunday Sun visited the family, her parents, Chris Ewurum and Mercy Ewurum, the mother could not hold back the tears that well up and cascaded down her cheeks as they recalled the rape incident that took place on December 28, 2008, in their former residence on Palace Road, Olodi- Apapa, Lagos State.
Your heart would bleed watching her make a feeble attempt to stand and walk without holding onto anything. When she tried to stand up, her legs trembled and then she fell down. These days, as her mother, Mercy, disclosed, she has to bath Chi, to avoid her falling and injuring herself. Her toes have become twisted, her eyes have been affected and the head is larger and abnormal, compared to her siblings. Her hands could not hold a bottle as it would fall from her shaky hands. Since the incident, her memory has been flipping from normal to abnormal, her mother said. Following the defilement, Chi has now been urinating on herself.
Father frustrated and angry
Father of the teenager, Mr Christopher Ewurum said that he is absolutely convinced that Akpan, who was convicted for the crime, had used his daughter for ritual purpose. In the earnest quest to get the girl healed, she has been taken from one church to the other, and from one native doctor to another as well as Muslim alfas, all of who took money from the family, but the girl’s condition remained the same as their efforts did not yield any fruitful result.
Ewurum who hails from Mbaitolu Local Government Area, said: “I feel so bad each time I look at my once beautiful daughter who is now suffering from the strange ailment after she was defiled by James Akpan who was 42 years old then. He is now 51 years-old while my daughter he raped at the age of nine years old is now 18 years old. I am so sad because since after he raped my daughter she is yet to come back to her normal self. At 18 years, my daughter has not started to menstruate. My daughter who was once strong and played energetically with her mates can no longer walk. If she attempts to walk without holding the wall, she will fall. She cannot hold a bottle firmly because it will fall and break. She wanted to put fire on the stove but she fell, injuring herself in the head. Her left toes are twisted to the right while the right toes are twisted to the left. Her hands cannot hold anything firmly. She trembles when she walks. The incident has changed her life from happiness to sadness. Today is her birthday but we have to stay indoors with her, praying that God will perform a miracle in her life.”
Efforts made to get her healed
Ewurum said his family had tried in several ways to get Chi healed and restored to her normal self, but all the efforts were unsuccessful. “We have carried her to different churches in Lagos. The churches we have taken her include: The Lords Chosen at Ijesha bus stop, along Oshodi-Apapa expressway, in Lagos; Synagogue Church of All Nations, Ikotun; Jesus Christ, The Healer of All Nations in Ajah area, Lagos; God’s Palace Ministry at Adaloko Road, Afromedia, in Okokomaiko area of Lagos State; Glorious Land Ministry, Surulere; Perfect Christianity Church. We went to some other churches. Apart from churches, I took her to an alfa and to native doctors. The alfa said he would return whatever that was taken away from her body but up till date he could not do anything. We paid the alfa N17,000. Even the head of a church in Swamp street in Olodi-Apapa collected N42, 000 from us just to offer prayers and buy olive oil.”
Chi’s mother said that sometimes her daughter would answer questions very well but at other occasions she would just ramble.
Ewurum continues the sad tale: “We tried to see how we could assist her to get proper education. She feels deeply embarrassed by her condition. It is also an embarrassment to the family. We managed to push her up to junior secondary school, form 1 (JSS 1). One day she was returned home by the tutors who advised that we should treat her first before bringing her to school. They said she was not fit to be in secondary school. She usually fall down and often lost concentration in class. My daughter was one of the most brilliant pupils when she was in primary school. She was in primary four when Akpan raped her and since that time she has not recovered. She began to urinate on her body and even defecate. Now she hardly plays with people. She prefers to be alone. But she used to be very friendly and playful before the wicked man raped her. At the age of 18 years, my daughter has not started to menstruate. The man must have used our daughter for ritual purpose. This is not ordinary. Is she the only child that was ever raped? Why should her case be different? Why should it affect her sense of reasoning? Why should it affect her body movement, even eyes, head, toes and fingers? Now she cannot walk without holding onto something. She cannot talk very well. This is not ordinary (he began to weeping). I saw James Akpan the other day and wanted to confront him. Immediately he saw me he quickly ran away. I shouted that he should stop but he ran as fast as he could.”
Family unhappy with sentence passed on culprit
If the Ewurums thought that the court would give succour by locking Akpan for a long time to pay for his evil act and to serve as deterrent, they were truly disappointed by the 15-month sentence passed on him, after the court found him guilty. Regarding the court sentence which was like a tap on the wrist, he said: “The court should have sentenced the accused person to many years imprisonment. What is 15- month imprisonment? After six months Akpan was set free and he returned a free man while my daughter is still suffering in pains and anguish. If the man was properly punished, I would have been happy that the law had taken its course.”
Akpan still running from his shadow
Two days after Chi’s birthday, Sunday Sun reporter ran into Akpan on Thursday, May 4, 2017, in his regular hangout on Ojoku Street, Olodi-Apapa, and pointedly asked him: “Do you know that the child you raped in 2008 has not recovered from it? The girl is very ill. People said that you used her for ritual purpose. Why did you use her for ritual purpose?”
Shocked by the force of the question thrown at him, which caught him unawares, he first stepped back before retorting: “Oga, please leave me alone. I am not a ritualist. I did not use anybody for ritual. I have suffered over this matter. They took me to court and sentenced me. Please I don’t want any problem, just leave me alone. May be you are a police officer.” Then he dashed across the street and walked away.
Back then, the Commissioner of Police had prosecuted Akpan before the Apapa Chief Magistrate Court in Suit No. MCK-03-2009, in Kirikiri. The case was commenced on January 14, 2009 and heard by Mr J. A. Adegun, who presided. While sentencing Akpan, he said: “Having considered the age of the defendant as a grown up person with wife and a child, the court is puzzled as to what would have tempted him to defile a small child of nine years old! I have also considered the allocuture as a first offender, but the court will be failing in its duty if serious punishment is not meted out to the defendant. I therefore sentence the defendant to 15 months imprisonment with hard labour to serve as a deterrent to others. Imprisonment to start from the time he has been in police custody.”