SPECIAL REPORT: ‘Rapists’ walk free as cases surge in Ogun

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Over 200 cases of rape were recorded across Ogun State in 2023, 27 of them are in court, while a paltry four convictions have been secured by the state government. In this report, Gift Barry-Oba takes a look at the rising menace of rape in the state.

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Last year, an eight-year-old girl (name withheld) allegedly defiled by one Lekan Tunji, died mysteriously while the trial was still ongoing in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

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The girl died while preparing for school.

Tunji was arraigned in 2022 before a family court sitting at Isabo, Abeokuta, on a one count charge.

The accused was alleged to have sexually assaulted the victim on June 27, 2022 at Lagbua Village, Kemta Housing Estate, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta.

Tunji allegedly committed the offence by defiling the victim and also inserting a blackish substance into the girl’s vagina with his finger.

“That you Lekan Oyedele Tunji (M) on or about the 27 day of June, 2002 at about 05:30pm at Lagbua Village, Kemta Housing Estate, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta in the Abeokuta Magisterial District did sexually exploited one (name withheld) an eight-year old girl by inserting a blackish substance into her vagina with your finger and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 33 of the Child Rights Law, Laws of Ogun State, 2006,” the charge reads.

The suspect pleaded not guilty to the charge and he was granted bail by the Magistrate in charge of the case, Mrs Idowu.

The prosecuting counsel, M J Oyefesobi had opened the case and closed after calling witnesses and presented some evidence in support of the case.

When the trial resumed in July, 2023, for the respondent’s counsel to open defence, the Court was informed that the girl had died.

‘RAPISTS’ ON THE LOOSE IN OGUN

Hardly would a week pass by without a case of rape in Ogun State, men with uncontrolled sexual urges go about sexually abusing girls and in most cases, minors. Fathers, relatives, neighbours and pastors are found to be culprits of this heinous act.

Adijat Adeleye, the commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development in Ogun State, said over 200 cases of rape were handled by the ministry in the year 2023.

Among these cases include a Corp member Adebola Sodiq, who was arrested by men of Ogun State Police Command for raping a 20 years old girl (name withheld) at Agbajege village in Owode Egba local government area of the state.

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In October,  four female students of the Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), Ijagun, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State were raped by suspected robbers.

In the month of November, Lateef Olaniran, a native of Ipokia local government who is a Mathematics teacher at Ebenezer Grammar School, Iberekodo, Abeokuta was arrested for allegedly raping two girls.

In Ogunyemi street Lafenwa area of Abeokuta, a 16-year-old girl was allegedly defiled and filmed during the act leading to the arrest of one of the suspects identified simply as Kayode as the other suspect fled the scene.

Also a 76-year-old man, David Ogunsanwo was arrested by men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) for allegedly raping and impregnating a 16-year-old girl (name withheld) in Abeokuta.

And just recently, 46year old Pastor Clinton John, was arrested for allegedly defiling a 16-year-old girl in the Agbado area of the state.

Speaking to a 16 year-old survivor(name withheld) who was allegedly abused by her mother’s 35 year old boyfriend Odewale Akinleye, she (survivor) disclosed that the abuse started when she was 9 year-old and was threatened to be killed if she informed anybody about it.

“I was 9 year old and in Jss1 when he first started,  I came back from school that day and he offered to bath me but started pressing my nipples, I told him I was going to tell my mom and then he threatened to beat me and kill me if I tell anyone. Then he carried me inside the room, put me on the bed,  did it forcefully and continued having sex with me even after my mom relocated from the country.

Findings by OgunWatch revealed  that rape cases are on increase on a daily basis. For instance, 103 cases were recorded within eight months in 2022, and in 2023, over 200 cases were recorded in the state.

Whereas, most survivors of rape are not given justice, perpetrators escape punishment, and hundreds of cases of rape remain unreported because of widespread stigma, victim blaming, and corruption.

Adeleye said 27 out of the 200 cases are in court already and so far four convictions have been had.

“As at the last count we have over 200 cases have been recorded, 27 of them are in court already while we have recorded at least four convictions, some have been dispensed with, a few convicted and we still have a whole lot in court”, the commissioner said.

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National Coordinator of the Child Protection Network, Olakunle Sanni, blamed the rise of defilement among minors to the society, social media and low level of social standards adding that some abusers grow up in an environment where such is not seen as legally wrong.

He pointed out that some of these offenders were once victims who were denied justice; as a result, they believe that since nothing was done, they are free to inflict the same harm on others. 

“They grow up in an environment where they get to see these things happen, they are not seen as something totally forbidden and an environment where children are not given sexual education. What do you expect?

“Even the things they are exposed to on the social media spaces expose them to sexual content and most times want to practice these things. They think there is no offense, many only see it as something morally wrong and not legally wrong so they don’t see it as something that attracts punishment. 

“Also some of these perpetrators were once victims so they feel since it was done to them and nothing was done to correct it they can also do the same to others and get away with it,” he said.

Reasons For Delay In Prosecution 

Adedamola Lapite, a legal practitioner and founder of The Spring Center,  a non governmental organization that focuses on helping sexually abused persons bemoaned the lack of thorough investigations on the delay in the prosecution of the suspects.

He noted that many of these cases end up at the police station rather than in court, which can stigmatize and embarrass the victims. 

“To me, the reason is the poor implementation of laws enacted to protect people from rape and other sexual offenses.

“The state needs proper implementation and ensures full compliance of the law, in Ogun state, even Nigeria we have the law but we have  problems with implementation of the law.

“Investigations should be carried out appropriately, there should be full medical services for victims of all forms of sexual violence. These victims that we call survivors should not have reasons to spend their personal money on treatment, let all those things be taken care of by the government.

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WE NEED SPECIAL COURT TO TRY PERPETRATORS – COMMISSIONER 

Adeleye called for a special court to try perpetrators of rape and other gender based violence stressing that this will help hasten justice for the victims.

“We are clamoring for a special court to try these perpetrators and offenders because they still go to the regular court. Yes our judiciary is doing so much to support us in fact when we go to these courts we know the judges don’t take it lightly especially when it involves gender-based violence but then, they have other cases to attend to so if we have a special court we believe that it will hasten the justice that we seek for the victims.

The commissioner speaking further disclosed that some victims choose to remain silent after being abused because they are scared of not getting justice.

She added that the state,  also not having a safe place to house victims was a factor as some will still have to go back to live with or in the same environment as their abusers who had been released.

“We have victims, we have survival. Those we tag victims are those who after getting assaulted don’t report or after reporting don’t get justice but survivors are those violated, who report and eventually get justice.

“Most of the times these people are assaulted is like a wound to them and when they don’t get justice it hurts them and does not encourage others to come up to speak. So we are doing all we can to ensure that justice is served after they report, she added.

To tackle the menace, experts have urged the society to do better rather than glorifying these perpetrators and blacklisting victims on social media as this can make them (perpetrators) see nothing wrong in their actions.

Campaign against rape and other gender based violence

“Society needs to do better. We glorify these perpetrators and see them as not doing anything wrong and blacklist these victims. These are some of the reasons why people wouldn’t speak up,” Lapite said.

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