Ngozi Offor (not real name) had gotten it up to the brim when she dropped a note in a neighbour’s house. She was going to take her own life if no one rescued her from Peter Ezeka, her guardian whom she called ‘uncle’.
Ngozi started living with Peter in 2017. She was 10 at the time, and her father had just died. In Peter’s house, she went through a lot of beating. She cared for Peter’s three sons and helped his wife with chores.
But Peter was also sleeping with her. And at the time she wrote the suicide note, it had been going on for four years. Ngozi was now 14. She told Rita Adam, the lady who would inform the Police, that Peter’s wife was aware of the rape and that she brought in a pastor who administered an oath with the Bible. If she told anyone, she would go mad.
“The case was reported to the Police at Ajao Estate,” Rita told FIJ. “But they released Peter two days later on the basis that ‘he was ill.’”
Rita then notified the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) who got Peter rearrested and detained at the Lagos State Police Headquarters, Ikeja. Ngozi’s mother, however, stormed Lagos about a week into the case and took her daughter to the village. She would tell FIJ that Peter could only have made a mistake in raping her.
“She initially said we should seek justice for her daughter, and then all of a sudden, she came into Lagos asking that Ngozi should meet her at the police station,” said Rita. “That night, she took her back to the rapist’s house and the next day forced her back to the village.”
Before her husband’s death, 43-year-old Theresa Chinweuba, Ngozi’s mother, was a trader in the Agbado Oja area of Ogun State where she sold food ingredients. She lived there with her seven children until the Nigerian Rail Corporation (NRC) demolished her shop shortly after he husband’s burial, to make way for the Lagos-Ibadan rail.
Theresa returned to Anaku, her husband’s village in Anambra State, and from there, she gave away five of her children, including four girls and a boy, to friends and relatives who promised to give a hand. Peter promised to put Ngozi through school and it was such relief for Theresa.
“Since my husband died, that man has been helping me train Ngozi,” She would tell FIJ. And although a hospital confirmed that her daughter had been raped, Theresa asked the Police to release Peter.
Rita, however, said that Ngozi’s mother made the move after getting some money from the rapist. She also revealed that Peter doled out some money to the Police and many other people involved in the case.
“We later learnt that Ngozi’s mother, the Police, and a host of other people were paid off,” she said.
Ngozi found her way back to Lagos after a few weeks in Anaku. She told Rita that her mother had planned to marry her off in the village. Rita then took her back to DSVRT from where she was transferred to an undisclosed orphanage.
When FIJ contacted DSVRT on March 25, two weeks after Ngozi was taken there the second time, a representative of the organisation said investigation was ongoing. In a follow-up conversation, DSVRT said investigation must have been concluded and that the result must have been shared with Ngozi’s relatives.
Ngozi’s mother, however, said she was neither briefed on the case nor aware of her daughter’s whereabouts.
“Ngozi called me with one number one day, saying that she dreamt about her sister. I asked where she was, and she said she did not know, ” she said.
Rita also said that Mrs Oni, the DSVRT officer directly in charge of the case, had blocked her phone number and WhatsApp handle over her insistence on knowing how the case was progressing.
Speaking with FIJ, however, Oni said investigation was still ongoing on the case and that Ngozi had since been in an orphanage. She also insisted that the name and location of the orphanage could not be revealed for security reasons.
Meanwhile, Oni could not bottle up her uneasiness on learning that our reporter had contacted DSVRT directly. “But you have my number, why speak with someone else on this matter?” She asked. Her comment would raise the suspicion of a cover up when placed side-by-side with Peter’s.
“The issue was settled by …,” Peter told our reporter. “I don’t know why they are bringing it up now.”
Emeka Okoye, Ngozi’s uncle who also spoke with FIJ, said he had no recent updates on the case and the girl’s whereabouts.
“They (DSVRT) have kept on postponing action till date. I don’t believe the case is over, but for now I can’t give much information,” he said.
As of the time of filing this report, the whereabouts of Ngozi was unknown. Those familiar with the case believe she is being held hostage somewhere as part of a grand cover-up by her mother, Peter, the Police and the DSVRT.
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