While 15-year-old Risikat Adeniyi is still traumatised after being raped by a cleric during deliverance, 12-year-old Peace Kenneth was defiled by her maternal uncle, who has speech and hearing defects, for three years, Azeezat Adedigba writes:
Risikat Adeniyi was merely 15 when she was allegedly raped by Pastor Olumeje, a visiting pastor at the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, Akodo, Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos State, southwest Nigeria. The teenager explained that the cleric claimed he wanted to deliver her from a spell on August 17, 2022, but sadly penetrated her forcefully while covering her mouth to avoid people hearing her scream.
Findings revealed that the cleric invited the victim and her mother Modupe Adekunle for prayers, claiming that the person who bathed the child as a baby had changed her destiny. He didn’t deny the allegation when confronted by the victim’s mother.
Also, findings showed that this was not the first time the cleric would commit the same crime in the environment. He usually got pardoned anytime he committed such an atrocity.
It was also gathered that the hospital he was taken to for treatment after he was allegedly beaten by the victim’s mother refused to treat him because he was a serial abuser in the community.
The reporter also obtained audio and visual evidence of Olumeje asking for forgiveness. Also, the test by the hospital, as seen by the police, confirmed forceful penetration. The cleric also didn’t deny the wrongdoing when approached by the community.
How It Happened
The victim’s parents reside in Ajah, Lagos, while her grandmother lives in the Akodo area of Ibeju-Lekki. The victim and her mother decided to pay a visit to the grandmother and attend the seven days revival going on in the grandmother’s church, which started on August 15, 2022.
During the worship service on August 17, 2022, the cleric, while in trance, said the victim’s destiny had been exchanged by the family members that bathed her while she was a baby, and instructed the mother to meet him for deliverance. The cleric asked the victim’s mum to get a coconut and another set of clothes when coming for the deliverance. Risikat would have stayed back if she knew going for the deliverance would change her story, but she couldn’t have envisaged his real intention.
“I was not bothered at first when the cleric gave the prophecy, but everyone in the church started alleging that I was not a good mother on the account that I left the church after the prayer session to get what he asked us to bring. He said the deliverance would happen where he was staying for the duration of the programme,” the victim’s mother said.
According to Modupe, Olumeje asked me to come along with another cloth for my daughter aside from the coconut I went to buy.
“When I got there, Olumeje asked if I came with his gift for the prayer deliverance and I told him I was not with cash. I asked my daughter to run home to bring my purse. He insisted that I go myself to get the money while he commenced with the deliverance.”
Modupe said the cleric also gave her his phone to help him locate a guest when she returned with the money.
“He shielded me from entering the room while the deliverance was ongoing. He gave me the old dress my daughter was putting on when I returned to his house and told me to discard them in the stream. He instructed me not to talk to anyone or look back while on the assignment of discarding the cloth, but I noticed her skirt was wet,” she said.
The victim’s mother said she noticed her daughter was dull and crying on their way home after the deliverance.
‘Deliverance or Assault’
Modupe said she started questioning her daughter to tell her why she was moody.
“My daughter said we would both die if she told me what happened, and I had to tell her that was not true,” she said.
Narrating her ordeal, Risikat said the cleric asked her to remove her clothes and he ordered her to lay on the bed.
“He laid on me and I asked him if this was how deliverance was done and he said yes. It was so painful. He washed my skirt after he finished and told me not to tell anybody,” Risikat said.
The victim’s mother said she rushed back to the pastor to challenge him, but he started screaming for help.
“The case was taken to Akodo Police Station, but we were told to treat the cleric first because I bit him when I learnt what he did to my daughter. When he was taken to the hospital, we learnt he was a serial rapist. This was not the first time he would be doing such and pleading for forgiveness,” she said.
Subsequently, we were threatened by the community leaders to withdraw the case. “Imagine the pastors saying my daughter would still be deflowered, what is the big deal?”
She further said the hospital report confirmed that her “daughter was deflowered and the cleric never denied committing the crime”.
This reporter also obtained pictorial evidence of Olumeje pleading for forgiveness and the audio tape of the nurse narrating how Olumeje had raped other children in the environment.
Prophet Olumeje apologising to the community for raping another minor
Bizarre Twist of Events
Kuba Omotehinse, the apostle of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church where the cleric had gone to minister, denied inviting the cleric to his church.
“We don’t know him and we didn’t invite him. He only attended our programme just like every other member,” he said.
Residents also confirmed that the victim and her mother visited the prophet for deliverance before the quarrel ensued.
The victim’s mother said she’d been receiving threats from cleric’s church members. “I was told to release the pastor because it was wrong,” she said.
She said the case was transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department in Panti. She lamented that the IPO insisted that the officers in charge of the case would not be able to visit the scene until she sponsored them.
“The IPO said Olumeje would be released if we didn’t find money to bring them to the scene. We are poor and we can’t afford it,” she said.
She was worried that justice would not be served as the police might release the cleric if she couldn’t provide the funds, or frustrate the case.
One Sibling Dead, Two Others Traumatised
Just like Risikat, other victims who spoke have sad tales of sexual-related violence cases, with justice looking unattainable. They are forced to continue living with the scars.
While Risikat awaits justice, 41-year-old Charity recounted how her 12-year-old niece, Peace, was defiled by her maternal uncle, Peter, which subsequently led to her death in the Okokomaiko area in March 2022.
She narrated that the kids, 16-year-old Precious, 12-year-old Peace, and 9-year-old Chindima, were taken to their maternal grandmother’s house when their mother died five years earlier.
“I visited them and found that Peace was ill and I brought her to my house. I thought it was malaria. We even went to treat it until my sister noticed she defecated on her body, and everywhere was smelling.
“When my sister lifted her wrapper and tried to lift her, she noticed her private part was wide. We were shocked, carried her to clean her up, and appealed to her before she explained what happened,” she said.
Charity said Peter had been molesting Peace since she was 7 years old. Charity said although the case was taken to Panti, they couldn’t continue with the trial because the 23-year-old Peter had both hearing and speech defects.
“Peace narrated how Peter defiled her too, and it was scary. I embarked on a journey to meet human rights actors to help me collect the other children there. I was worried about the kids. It is now that I remember that the grandma has never allowed the kids to accompany me or their dad alone,” she said.
However, Charity noted that the family didn’t want justice since the police said he (Peter) couldn’t communicate. “We want to protect the future of the children,” she said.
She said a human rights organisation, Advocate for Children and Vulnerable Persons Network (ACPVN), provided two sign language interpreters to communicate with Peter but he couldn’t respond, which further led to his release.
Meanwhile, late Peace’s elder sister, Precious, also narrated how Peter started molesting her at 9.
The 19-year-old said Peter molested her for three years until their grandmother caught them. Grandma scolded us and asked him to stop.
“When daddy stopped sending money to us, my grandma told me that my mates did go to hotels in Igando to make money, but I could not go to the hotel, so I started sleeping with Miracle, a student at the University of Benin in my church, for N2,000, and I have slept with him three times,” she said.
Eight-year-old Chidinma said, “Uncle Peter put his fingers and stick in my private part.”
In her response, the perpetrator’s mother, who is also the children’s maternal grandmother, alleged that the last child, Chidinma, once said her father touched her private parts.
“I don’t know anything about the allegation and Peter cannot talk. I only caught Peter and Precious playing with each other’s private parts and I cautioned them. Chidinma once had a pain in her private part, and I took her to a nurse. The nurse screamed, and we found a whitish thing in her private part,” she said.
This reporter was unable to communicate with Peter, as he couldn’t read and write.
Efforts to get a response from the children’s father, Kenneth, was also unsuccessful.
Late Peace Siblings, Precious and Chidinma. Photo credit: Azeezat Adedigba
Every year, millions of girls and boys around the world face sexual abuse and exploitation. Sexual violence occurs everywhere – in every country, and across all segments of society.
UNICEF describes Gender-based violence (GBV) as the most pervasive, yet least visible human rights violation in the world.
Gender-based violence takes numerous forms: intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation, trafficking for sexual exploitation, female infanticide, and ‘honour’ crimes are common – with intimate partner violence occurring at staggering rates in every country.
Statistics show that six out of every 10 children experience some form of violence. One in four girls and 10 percent of boys have been victims of sexual violence. Of the children who reported violence, fewer than five out of 100 received any form of support, a UNICEF report revealed. The UN organisation also revealed that between 2005 and 2020, parties to conflict raped, forcibly married, sexually exploited, and committed other grave forms of sexual violence against at least 14, 200 children.
According to UNICEF figures, one in 10 females under the age of 20 have been forced to have sex or engage in other sexual actions. However, the actual number is probably far higher.
However, a large number of sexual assault victims, including millions of boys, never come forward. One of the most disturbing violations of a child’s rights is sexual violence. As a result, it is covered by specialised international legal mechanisms meant to shield kids from its many manifestations.
Gender-based abuse survivors experience terrible short and long-term effects on their physical and emotional health.
Girls and women may sustain severe physical injuries, become pregnant unintentionally, or become infected with HIV or other STDs. Additionally prevalent are suicide thoughts, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
In Nigeria, numerous provisions in chapter 21 of the criminal law define child sexual abuse as an offence. The age of consent is 18.
According to the Child Rights Act (CRA), having sex with a juvenile is rape, and anyone found guilty of having sex with a child faces a life sentence in jail upon conviction.
In Nigeria, child sexual abuse is an offence under several sections of chapter 21 of the country’s criminal code. The age of consent is 18.
The CRA that Nigeria approved in 2003 stipulates that every child’s welfare must be respected and given top priority. It further states that having sex with a child constitutes rape and that anyone found guilty of engaging in such conduct faces a life sentence in jail.
Currently, 28 out of 36 states of Nigeria have adopted the CRA as state law. Nigeria signed several legal instruments to protect children against sexual abuse, including the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act and the Child’s Rights Act. The VAPP Act protects persons against sexual violence, and the Child’s Rights Act 2003 focuses on children.
Despite the high rate of child sexual abuse in Nigeria, many states are yet to domesticate these laws. The lack of implementation of some of the enacted laws and treaties in the country can be said to be among the reasons for the increase in child abuse.
Also, most of the victims come and beg to be kept anonymous, mostly because of stigmatisation in society and mental health disorders.
SGBV Experts React
Ebenezer Omejalile, the co-founder of ACPVN, said, “We swung into action immediately our attention was drawn to the matter. In the case of Peace, we organised two disability experts for sign language, but Peter couldn’t communicate.”
He said pedophilic behavior should be tackled because it’s now a dangerous trend.
“If the Nigerian system allows these criminals to get away all the time, they will start killing their victims and it will become worse,” he said.
He said that’s why most of the children are victims of SGBV.
“Besides, the victims don’t see the abuser being sent to jail or castrated. They are using the tactics of protecting family names to destroy the children.”
He lamented that the perpetrators use threats as a weapon so that the victims won’t speak out.
“There is an urgent need to increase the campaign against SGBV. These campaigns should be taken to schools to make children understand that their body parts are precious to them and should not be abused. Children should also be made to understand that they can authoritatively confront whoever tries to abuse them,” he said.
He also called for increased community enlightenment. “We have to start facing the community development association because that’s our biggest problem. We blame the police, but we shouldn’t, because someone enabled it. Looking at the case we have now, the community pardoned the abuser. Who gave them the authority to pardon?” He questioned.
Also, Memunat Dawodu, a guidance and counselling expert, said the problem is from the community. “Once a perpetrator is being caught, the family, the friends, the community, even those people you expect to protect the right of the child, come to say it’s a family issue, which can be solved amicably. Even when the case gets to the police station, members of the community threaten the victim’s parents and demand to settle out of court.”
“The prevention methods include teaching the children about the private parts, creating awareness in the market and the schools, especially private schools. The private schools should allow the whistleblowers to come there and sensitize the children and the children should be able to name every part of their bodies. Aside from that, clergy, chiefs, parents, guardians, relatives and friends should not hide such when they see it. They should say it and do something so that we can have a better society.
Olumide Bankole, a psychologist, said the way to stop pedophilic acts was to create awareness.
“Our culture for respecting elders has its good part and bad part. That gives room for them to do what they like, even if they are wrong. You can’t correct them because of the culture. Even for an adult, rape can still be devastating mentally, how much more a child. Sometimes, the society factors also contribute too, whereby the mother shuts the child from speaking up.
He said constant rape or abuse could lead to suicidal ideas. “The thought starts to come up from nowhere because of the torture they are going through mentally.
Funmi Bayejo, a legal practitioner, said lack of extensive evidence or evidence gathering also contributes to the reasons sexual abuse victims’ road to justice is slow.
She said the reason for the slow judicial system is that the courts are clogged with too many cases.
Similarly, Edugie Agbontaen said different factors has contributed to the delay and frustration in the justice for rape victims. “As a result of this, the victims carry the burden and stigma for life.”
“The long and tedious process involved in getting justice, which includes bringing the law enforcement agencies, medical practitioners, therapists, legal practitioners together to ensure that justice is served on the victim is frustrating and victims tend to get discouraged.
She said stigmatisation is also a major factor that frustrates the victims from getting justice. “Victims who are bold enough to speak out to get justice are looked down on by our own society. They make up different theories about the situation, like ‘Is she a virgin before the rape? What was she doing in a man’s house if she didn’t want it? Why was she dressed seductively? Were they not dating already? All these are said to downplay the situation, thereby adding to the victims’ trauma”.
According to her, parents and guardians also have major roles to play in getting justice for their children or wards. “They tend to downplay the situation because our society sees rape as a thing of shame to the family, thereby indirectly encouraging the rapist to do more harm,” she said.
“Our legal system have a major role to play in getting swift justice for rape victims. Most times, the rape case ends in the police station, because police officers sees it as a bailable offence. They believe that the victim can be paid off to end the matter. They don’t believe that a rape victim should speak up, as it’s a shameful thing.”
Speaking on what causes delay in the prosecution of alleged rapists, the Lagos State Police spokesperson, Benjamin Hundeyin, said investigation is time consuming. “The police does not dismiss a criminal case. We do the investigations, but it is only the court that can dismiss a case”.
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