Rising cases of clerics defiling minors worry parents, others
Like the biblical false prophets, they come in sheep’s clothing. But inwardly, they are ravening wolves.
These days, some clerics have metamorphosed into the proverbial dog that eats the bone left in its care. They have taken sexual perversion to another level by betraying the trust reposed in them. And by their actions, they put other spiritual leaders under great scrutiny.
It happens daily, and the stories are as horrid as the acts. The rape of innocent, vulnerable children by clerics who have obligations to mentor, counsel, protect and guide them spiritually, unfolds each day. As the day breaks, the air is replete with mind-boggling reports of underage children defiled by clerics in whose care such innocent victims are entrusted.
Controlled by an unbridled sexual urge, these individuals have continued to soil their robe of spirituality to become equated with perverts who rape toddlers, underage housemaids and naive pupils.
These ignoble acts committed by these ‘men of God’ are too numerous to mention as more sordid and mindboggling acts keeps unfurling by the day.
For Pastor Cletus Matititri, in Obiaruku, Delta State, a threesome romp seemed to be one of his fantasies. This was what he allegedly set out to achieve on Sunday, August 6, 2017, with two sisters, Happy, 13, and Joy, 11. The girls were children of his co-pastor, Olomu Friday.
According to their father, his son informed him that he saw Pastor Cletus coming out from an empty flat in their compound with the girls in a suspicious manner. Findings after his arrest revealed that he had been in the act for quite a while. He has since been charged to court for defilement of the girls.
Another cleric, a certain Prophet Michael Adeniran, was arrested for allegedly defiling and impregnating 15-year-old Toriola Mary, a daughter to one of his church members.
Trouble started when the mother of the girl, who incidentally was the suspect’s lover, discovered she was pregnant and mounted pressure on her to disclose the identity of the man responsible. The girl revealed that the cleric lured her into his car on the day she marked her birthday and raped her.
Also, an Ado-Ekiti Magistrate’s Court recently ordered that a cleric, Gabriel Asateru, 53, be remanded in prison for allegedly defiling a five-year-old girl. The prosecuting police officer, Inspector Bayo Ajiboye, told the court that the accused defiled the girl after cajoling her to sit on his laps.
In Bayelsa State, Pastor Ogbomo Jerry, 38, and six others were paraded by the police for the alleged rape of an 11-year-old girl and two eight-year-old others. The cleric, who is also the Manager of Riverside Business Service, according to the police, lured his victim to his office at Aduleama, Amassoma Community, Southern Ijaw and raped her.
Pastor Isaiah Ojo, founder and general overseer of Day Spring Family Chapel, Egbeda, Ibadan, Oyo State was equally accused of defiling a minor, Bidemi. The act which was reportedly carried out on the altar of his church left the girl bleeding profusely.
According to reports, the 62-year-old cleric allegedly took advantage of Bidemi, who was the daughter of his friend and fellow pastor, when he saw her playing in the church premises.
Alfa Ishaq Gbadegesin, a Muslim cleric, was reportedly caught in the act by his own wife. The 43-year-old was caught on November 7, 2016, at his residence in Shomolu, while using his finger to penetrate his 15-year-old daughter and forcing the girl to caress his manhood. He was later arraigned before an Igbosere Magistrate Court.
For defiling a minor, Kunle Odafe, 31, is right now cooling his heels in prison. According to police report, Odafe, who was attached to St. Moses Orimolade C&S Movement Church, Omu-Aran, abducted and kept the girl in his custody. The lid was blown off his atrocious act when one Olajide reported that a 12-year-old girl was missing and investigations led to him.
In Benin City, an Ogbesun Chief Magistrate’s Court remanded a 41-year-old prophet, Benjamin Bernard, in prison for allegedly defiling his third daughter, who was seven.
The police prosecutor, Kenneth Ugiagbe, said the cleric used a white handkerchief to clean her private part after the incestuous act and threatened to kill her if she mentioned it to anyone.
A 48-year-old pastor, Michael Adeniran, was likewise remanded in prison by an Abeokuta Chief Magistrate’s Court for allegedly defiling and impregnating a teenager. The police disclosed during court sessions that the accused committed the offence at El- Bethel Church, Ita Aka, Abeokuta, Ogun State. The pastor was accused of failing to take responsibility of the teenager after the act.
Angered by the ugly spate of abominable acts by those referred to as men of God, Mrs. Celine Njoku, national secretary, Counselling Association of Nigeria, called for a collective action to protect vulnerable young children.
According to her, individuals that have lost God’s direction use their priestly robe and authority as a licence to destroy the lives of minors with impunity. She lamented that the debauchery that occurs on the altar of some churches has reached an irredeemable height.
Also speaking on the issue, a child counsellor, Chinwe Nzelu, noted that sexual violence against minors destroys the confidence of young people and set them up for more abuse in the future. She stressed that the horrific consequences of child sexual abuse cannot be quantified.
According to her, of late, it has been noted that the safest and easiest place for a paedophile to hide is in the church or mosque, adding that in these places they quietly carry out the most despicable acts of human cruelty ever imagined undetected.
A lawyer and parent, Nonso Chikelu, asserted that like other cases of defilement, those being carried out by purported men of God would continue unabated until a stiff precedence is set by the law. He noted that no one has really been punished for taking advantage of minors, adding that judgements passed on such criminally minded individuals always appeared like a slap on the wrist.
Yet for another parent who disclosed that her daughter almost became a victim to a paedophile Sunday school coordinator in her church, nobody should be totally trusted with children. In her opinion, no matter how much you think you know someone, there is need to take precautions for a child’s safety by ensuring proper monitoring.
Speaking on ways parents and guardians can ward off paedophile clerics, John Kome, President, Senior Pastor of GKCC International Churches, advised parents to always spend time with their children.
He maintained that most abuses could have been prevented if parents spent quality time with their kids, adding that paedophiles understand the psychology of Attention Deficiency Syndrome (ADS).
According to him, “the best form of protection is to be as involved as possible in your child’s life. If you don’t pay attention to your child, someone else will, and that person could as well be a paedophile that would do irreparable damage.”
The cleric further said that parents should encourage their children to confide in them and be outspoken. He noted that when children are given the freedom to express themselves without being judged, they become insulated from abuse.
Kome urged schools and churches to emphasise the need for children to keep an open mind, adding that every parent must be the type that can sustain open dialogue with a child.
He also harped on the need to be sensitive to abrupt attitudinal changes like unusual withdrawal, drop in academic performance, loss of appetite, not wanting to go to school, unusual aggressive behaviour, insomnia, inappropriate sexual behaviour or language, sleeplessness and extremely defensive nature, as they could be an indication of the onset of abuse.
Sex education, the cleric emphasised, must be the bedrock of every home. He said parents must endeavour to educate their wards about sex education and self worth.
“Teach them the areas of their body that are forbidden to touch as well as make them see the essence of contentment. When children don’t know their worth, they tend to give so much of themselves away to cheap things like being offered special treats. This of course, is one of the many overtures that will be made by a paedophile to a child to earn their attention. Most importantly, never dismiss any child’s claim because the adult in question is a valued member of society or appears incapable of despicable acts,” Kome said.