Billy Abel, Yola
There is a startling rise in the cases of rape of women and minors in the North. The statistics are frightening and shocking. It is no longer tolerable.
The North East, given its peculiar circumstances, appears to be worst hit by the menace, which has defied immediate solutions. It has little or no regard for the age and background of its victims. Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), said no fewer than 681 sexual cases were recorded in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states in recent years.
Its manager, Usha Saxena, revealed that the Hope Centre in Adamawa State established in 2017, received reports of 155 cases of rape as at July 2018. She explained that 95 per cent of victims were minors and 18 of them were male.
She regretted that out of these cases, only a few were brought to the attention of the law as only 27 cases of them were presently in court.
Adamawa Coalition Against Rape (ACAR), said: “In 2018, there was only one reported rape case in Yola North, but in 2019, 25 cases have been reported in nine local government areas.” It said the distribution included one case in Mubi North, nine in Yola North, five in Yola South, one in Lamurde, two in Fufore, two in Hong, three in Girei, one in Numan and one in Toungo.
One of the latest rape cases that made headlines in the state was that of five-year-old Fatimah. She was raped by one Abbati, a 19-year-old, who resides in her neighbourhood. Although the randy boy was apprehended by the police, the painful scars of his atrocity have continued to hunt his victim. Little Fatimah has been a regular visitor to a number of health facilities in the state.
She has undergone three reconstructive surgeries and needs yet another line of medical help to be well again, said a relative who spoke under the condition of anonymity.
Just a month after this case, another incident of rape surfaced in the state. It involved a primary schoolteacher, Nathan and a 12-year-old schoolgirl, (name withheld) in Namtari, Yola South Local Government. The girl has since been confirmed pregnant.
Government officials said the prevalence of rape is itself encouraged by the culture of silence everywhere: “They rarely spill it all. Many families believed that the identity of the victim must be kept away from the public else her future is doomed.”
Several respondents believed that the identity of a rape victim must never be discussed or declared in the open, so as not to reduce the opportunity of the victim getting married. Against this background, ACAR alongside the media and some civil society organisations, embarked on a walk around key establishments sensitising on the dangers of rape on the system.
The walk, which took off from the Office of the Governor, down to the State House of Assembly, the office of the Commissioner of Police terminating at office of the State Chief Judge was well received. It was to invite them to devote more attention to rape cases by ensuring stiffer penalties for proven offenders.
Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri said government would give full backing to the fight against rape and other sexual offences against women. He promised that all sexual offenders in the state would be brought to book, adding that victims would get deserved justice.
Police promised to establish a hotline to expedite the arrest of rapists and ensure their prosecution in court. State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Suleiman Nguroje, said the young man has been arrested even though he regretted that the family of the victim did not report the case to the police: “I came about the report on an online media and immediately dispatched my men, who effected the arrest of the culprit, a 19-year-old young man.
“We have since commenced investigation and would take him to the court immediately so that he can be tried and prosecuted.”