Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have arrested one Apostle Joseph Alhassan of Faith Agape Church, Narayi Kaduna, Kaduna State, for allegedly raping his 16-year-old maid for five years.
The suspected rapist, the founder of Orphans and Widows Welfare Foundation International, was picked by men of the NSCDC at his residence in No 158 B, Abdulrahman Road, Shagari Low-Cost Estate, Barnawa Kaduna, after a complaint by the Kaduna State Ministry of Human Services and Social Development.
The maid (name withheld), who was physically traumatised, told Social Welfare Officer Brenda Bartholomew in Kaduna on Saturday that the suspect had been having carnal knowledge with her as soon as she was brought in at age 11.
Relating part of her interaction with the girl, Brenda said the girl, who hails from Saminaka in Lere Local Government Area of the state, had been living with the accused since the age of 11 as a maid.
According to Brenda, the case was reported to the ministry by a non-governmental organisation, Bridge that Gap Initiative, after which the ministry intervened to investigate the issue.
‘After receiving the information, we reported the case to the NSCDC, Kaduna South Local Government Area Division, Kakuri, who thereafter arrested Alhassan and currently investigating the matter.
‘We have taken her to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Kakuri, for medical examination while we wait for NSCDC to conclude their investigation before we will proceed with the prosecution process,’ she said.
Given additional information on this development, the Executive Director, Bridge that Gap Initiative, Gloria Kasang Bulus, said her organisation got wind of the allegation through a neighbour’s child who attended the same school with the victim.
She said, ‘in 2019, we heard that another maid in the same house, a 12-year-old girl, had told some of her friends at school, that her fellow house-help was being sexually molested by Alhassan.
‘We decided to visit the school, Aliyu Makama Primary School, Barnawa, to investigate the alleged crime. We met the Assistant Head Teacher, Mrs Rebecca Sambo, who claimed ignorance of the issue.
‘But the 12-year-old girl reaffirmed the allegation and we were able to contact her parents in Kagarko, who came and took her away.
‘To ensure justice for the survivor, we decided to approach the ministry of Human Services and am glad that the Ministry has decided to investigate the allegation,’ she added.
When contacted, the Child Protection Desk Officer, NSCDC Kaduna, Mr Shehu Maiyaki, confirmed that Alhassan was in their custody and that the matter was being investigated.
The suspect was said to have denied the allegations levelled against him.
The alleged victim has meanwhile withdrawn from Alhasan house to the safe custody of the Ministry of Human Services and Social development.
The offence the pastor is accused of is in violation of the Child Welfare and Protection Law of Kaduna State and Violence Against Person Prohibition law of Kaduna State (2018).