As the world celebrates the girl-child today, a rape incident in its worst form is rocking Owerri, Imo State capital.
This is a sad commentary on the well-being of the girl-child.
Violence of this nature has now become a shadow pandemic growing daily in our society, according to Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women.
The victim of the rape (name withheld) is an undergraduate at Imo State University who, according to her, used the last strength in her to lure the suspect out of crime scene in the bush to a village and raised the alarm before her suspected assailant was arrested.
Date of attack was Nigeria’s independence anniversary eve (September 30). The survivor started her story in a statement to the police, “On the 30th of September 2020 after I closed from work I am engaged in because of the Covid-19 holiday, around 6pm, a friend called me to visit him at Akwakuma by Ezeigodo Street.
“On getting to Akwakuma Junction, I called a bike man (Okada rider) and showed him the address.
“He told me he knew the location. I climbed the motorcycle and he sped off. “But to my surprise, he kept going for two hours and I started getting scared. “Later, my friend called and asked if I was close to his place. I told him the journey was becoming farther than expected”.
She went on, “He screamed and asked me to give the bike man the phone. “When I did, he told the bike man to return me to the junction that he was coming to pick me up.
“The bike man accepted, yet he refused to go back. After some time, he stopped in the bush and told me that he wanted to ease himself.
“When we got down from the bike, he started walking towards me. I was afraid, so I began to run, shouting loudly.
“But no one came to my rescue. The man kept pursuing me until I lost strength and fell down, sustaining bruises.
“He asked me why I was running and where I had wanted to go. He took my Samsung phone and smashed it on the road due to repeated calls from my friend.
“He loosened his belt and brought out his p****s and forced me to suck it until he ejaculated in my mouth.
“I wanted to spit the sperm out but he hit me on the hand, commanding me to swallow it.
“After that, he asked me to spread my legs wide open. Before I could understand him, he held my legs and tore them apart.
“With the force of a wild animal, he came upon me and had s*x with me without any protection.
“He brutalized my private part and my entire body. “When he was done ravaging me, he wanted to leave me there in the bush and go, but I begged him to take me to where I could get a taxi to my house.
“He grudgingly accepted to drop me at Ogbosisi Junction on the condition that I would not utter a word on our way.
“But when I alighted at the junction, I used the last strength in me to shout ‘thief oo, thief oo’ and he sped off.
“The villagers pursued him and caught him. One of the pursuers who identified himself as a soldier held the man on his throat, asking him what happened.
“The bike man narrated to him all the cruelty he did to me. The soldier slapped him and handed him over to the villagers who, in turn, handed him to the police in Owerri.
“There, he was detained. At the police station, the police took photos of my battered body and kept my soiled clothes in their custody”.
The victim further narrated that the police asked her friend – who had arrived by then – to take her to the Nigeria Police Hospital at Amakohia. “There, series of tests were conducted on me. One of tests showed the presence of dead sperm in my system”, she added.
According to the Right and Welfare of Traumatized Wives and Youths Initiative, a non-governmental organization following up the case, the suspect in the alleged rape case, Emeka Onwusoroaka Christopher, has been remanded in prison by the magistrate at Court 5, Owerri where he was arraigned last Wednesday on two-count charge of forcefully having carnal knowledge of the victim and robbery.
The case was adjourned to October 21 pending advice by Imo State Directorate of Public Prosecution, DPP.
Only recently, Governor El-Rufai of Kaduna signed into law a bill that provides castration for rapists even while many others believe death sentence is the way to curb endemic rape in the country.
As the world celebrates the girl-child today under the theme, ‘My voice, our equal future’, it behoves government and all stakeholders to help the Owerri victim and indeed every other rape victim in our society to get justice.
In a United Nations report, one in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence.
And emerging data shows that since the outbreak of COVID-19, violence against women and girls (VAWG), and particularly domestic violence, has intensified.
The Criminal Code Act, Chapter C39 Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004, Section 357-358 states that any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, or with her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or by means of threats or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act, or in the case of married woman, by personating her husband, is guilty of an offence which is called rape.
Any person who commits the offence of rape is liable to imprisonment for life, with or without caning.