Metro & Crime

Pastor, SAN, others move to scuttle child defilement case

A pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) were part of the shocking delegate which went to plead on behalf of a man who inserted a finger into his 11-year-old house maid’s private parts.

It was learnt that the pastor, the SAN, another pastor and some members of the victim’s family had tried to scuttle the case, insisting that the perpetrator identified as Chucks, should be forgiven, asked to go and sin no more. Members of the delegate, however, got more than they bargained for, when Esther Child Rights Foundation, which had taken up the case of the victim, identified as Onyinyechi, told them that violation of a child was not a matter to be settled or negotiated. Onyinyechi was just eight years old when she started to live with Chucks and his wife, Ifeoma, in Lagos State.

The girl’s mother has eight children and is separated from her husband. When the marriage packed up, the husband allegedly abandoned the children to the woman. Onyinyechi is said to be the last surviving child of a quadruplet.

The girl has been living with the couple for three years and nobody knew for sure how long the violation had been going on. The victim said Chucks used to insert his finger into her private parts whenever his wife was on night duty. Ifeoma, who works with a pharmaceutical firm, works one week night and one week day.

Ironically, the sexual violation of Onyinyechi was discovered after concerned neighbours, worried by the way Ifeoma and Chucks used to beat her, took her to the Esther Child Rights Foundation on Abeokuta Expressway, Dopemu. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Foundation, Mrs. Esther Ogwu, said that she was shocked at the sight of Onyinyechi, who was all bloodied and running temperature.

She said: “A member of my staff, Mrs. Tony Chinyere, who incidentally handled the investigation of the case and eventual arraignment of Chucks, quickly administered First Aid on the girl. The girl had old and new scars on her body.” Chinyere explained that Onyinyechi was brought from Aba, Abia State, to Lagos and handed over as maid to Ifeoma. She said: “The girl was given out by her mother to their landlord’s daughter.

When the landlord’s daughter got to Lagos, she handed Onyinyechi over to Ifeoma. The girl had been with her madam now for three years and in those years, she had not been allowed to go and see her mother.” Chinyere explained that Onyinyechi was brought to their organisation’s office on September 8, 2020, by some neighbours. The angry neighbours reported that Onyinyechi’s madam was fond of beating her.

“The girl was running temperature and we quickly gave her First Aid before taking her to Isokoko Police Station, where we lodged a complaint. However, at the police station, we noticed that the temperature did not stop. We then proceeded to the hospital, where she was treated, but before then, while at our office, during interrogation, she told us that her madam’s husband had been sexually violating her by inserting a finger into her private part at night.

She said that it used to happen whenever her madam was on night duty. According to Onyinyechi, she had reported the violation to her madam several times, but nothing had been done. In fact, she said that the first time she told her madam, the woman told her husband. The husband in turn pounced on Onyinyechi and beat her mercilessly.

“What led to Ifeoma beating presently, which caused neighbours to bring her to our office, was because of her son. When Ifeoma was leaving home, she asked the girl to feed her children, a boy, who is seven years old and her daughter, who is two years old. Onyinyechi first fed the girl, but when she wanted to feed the boy, he said he was not hungry. She left him and went to do other chores. When Ifeoma returned, her son told her that he was hungry.

Ifeoma asked Onyinyechi why she had not fed the boy and the girl explained that the boy said he was not hungry. That was how she started flogging her with a belt. She also used that opportunity to beat her for not recharging their torch,” Chinyere said. Onyinyechi was left bruised and bleeding. The following morning, Ifeoma and Chucks left her writhing in pains and went to their different work places.

Before leaving home, the couple dished out instructions on the chores to be done before they return home. “After we took her to hospital, we brought her to the station, where we met the Investigating Police Officer (DPO), Miss Sheyi.

We then took her to Mirabel Centre for a proper checkup. The centre confirmed that she had been defiled,” Chinyere added. The police, shockingly, released the victim to Ifeoma and Chucks. It was alleged that the couple seized the opportunity and attempted to brainwash the victim into recanting her allegation. The girl’s mother, uncle and other relatives were also contacted. Chinyere said: “The couple got two lawyers, one of them introduced himself as a SAN. He was rude to me and threatened me. A man, who introduced himself as a pastor with RCCG also came to meet us. They all wanted us to negotiate for settlement and bury the case.

One of the uncles of the victim was already discussing with them the terms of settlement, along with the police. I told the pastor, the SAN and lawyer that I was shocked that they were negotiating for settlement over a case of a minor being violated. I asked them how they would feel if Onyinyechi was their daughter. The uncle, who had already accepted the settlement, called me and said that the police said our organisation had to agree before everything would be sealed and stamped.

But we refused. We want justice for Onyinyechi. “And because we refused, the uncle left, saying that we shouldn’t ever call him again for the matter. I confronted the police and they denied it. They said they were not aware of negotiation to bury the matter. The matter was eventually charged to court. Onyinyechi’s mum returned to Aba, while we needed a place for Onyinyechi to stay. We called the uncle, but like he said, he refused to listen to us. He refused to take Onyinyechi into his home.

It was another of their relatives that took the victim into his home.” The case was charged to Samuel Ilori Magistrates’ Court 2. Chucks was remanded while the next hearing would be in February 2021.

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