Amarachi (surname withheld), eight-year-old girl has revealed how she was brutally raped by one Sado Garuba in the Ojo area of Lagos State. The little girl who broke down several times while recounting the story to Saturday Sun, said she never envisaged such a sexual assault from a man she has come to respect very much since January she arrived Lagos from her village in Anambra State.
Going down the memory lane on how it happened, she stated that her grandmother had sent her to the Mallam’s shop to buy a bag of cellophane-packaged water for her. But upon getting there, she discovered that the price had changed. While contemplating what to do, according to her, the ‘Mallam,’ smiling with some lust in his eyes, asked her to come inside his house so that he could show her something interesting. She gullibly obeyed. It was in that process she was raped.
How the evil deed was done
Her account:”Grandmother sent me to buy ‘pure water’ at Garuba’s place. When I got there, he brought the bag. I asked him how much. He told me it’s N70. I asked him why because I boughit recently for N50. He insisted that it was N70 because the cost price has increased. I told him there was no way I would pay N70 for water and asked him to return my money.
“I was already leaving when he called me back and said he wanted to show me something inside his house. He said that I should follow him. I followed and he took me to his room. The moment we got there, he held me, pulled up my dress and forcefully removed my pant. He then put his finger in my vagina. I told him to stop but he didn’t.
The distraught little girl said that rather than stop, he gagged her mouth with a piece of cloth to stifle her cry as she struggled with him. Still holding her tightly to his body, he quickly pulled down his trouser, brought out his manhood, pushed her down on his bed, spread her legs and forcefully penetrated her. The little girl said she screamed as loud as her stuffed mouth could carry her voice but the man kept pushing himself into her until he was done.
The guardian’s side of the story
Her guardian, Stella Obiechina, corroborated her story. According to her, the little girl was sent to the Mallam’s shop one Friday afternoon to buy a bag of sachet water when she met with the ugly experience. This piece of information prompted the reporter to ask if she was not schooling because ordinarily she should be in school as at the time of the day they said the incident happened. Obiechina replied that she joined the family in Lagos at the end of January but owing to the pandemic she was not able to start schooling, though plans were ongoing to get her enrolled in one of the nearby schools.
Her words: “Amarachi came to Lagos from the village at the end of January. I was on maternity leave then. Although school was already in session then I felt she could use that period to survey the environment, know people and all. There is a school I chat with now. They resumed their third term this November but she has a home lesson teacher. She was in Primary 3 at the school she attended in Anambra. But they told me she cannot cope in Primary 3, that she has to go back to Primary 2.”
Obiechina who explained that the girl is her cousin added it was her parents’ desire to see her gain quality education that made them send her to live with her in Lagos. She noted that immediately the incident happened, she took appropriate steps by sending her to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), Mirabel Centre, Lagos, to establish, through medical tests, that she was raped. She revealed that her parents are yet to be informed because it is a sensitive issue and must be handled as such.
Suspect denies culpability, as child’s right activist, police, court weigh in
Saturday Sun gathered that the man at the centre of the storm has denied ever having carnal knowledge of the girl, before a law court. He argued that, contrary to the story being peddled about by the victim’s aunt, she came to his shop in the evening, not afternoon as being claimed, to make the purchase.
Ebenezer Omejalile of the Advocates for Children and Vulnerable People’s Network said that the survivor has to be placed in government shelter after the group discovered that the girl was being moved from one relative to another and that her parents were not aware of her defilement.
The Investigating Police Officer in charge of the case, one Inspector Rebecca (she refused to give her surname) confirmed that the case is at present in court and that it has been established that the girl was raped based on the medical report submitted.
Asked if there is anything the police can do to protect the girl while the case is still in court, she said that the police does not, for now, have a shelter that can accommodate her but added that she is safe as long as she stays with her guardian.
She however noted that the girl was not being appropriately catered for. “How can the girl’s guardian say that the girl was raped on Friday and she didn’t know about it till Monday?” she asked. “She told us that she only observed it when the girl slept carelessly with her legs wide open and she saw blood stain on her pant. Does it mean that the girl wore that particular pant for four days? That is where the problem lies now. I will advise her to take care of that girl like her own child but as for the police, we will ensure that justice is served.”