A crime news report from the Punch newspaper has got me almost weeping this early morning. Sex predators abound, but it is so heart breaking when they target children, it becomes monstrous when such a predator uses the cover of his home to molest his daughters and grand daughter. In a country like Nigeria where such cases are part of what "we do not talk about," effectively shutting up the victims from reporting the crime, or getting help through counselling and therapy, it is especially heinous!
But beyond lamenting such cases as we often read about in the papers and blogs, I want to point out the role the adult woman in such a situation has to play. In this story, I was baffled by the statement from the wife of the accused pedophile. Let us forget for a moment that the extended family is also complicit in this dastardly act, do you think the wife did all she could? Her story...
“I am a caterer. In 2006 I went to Abuja for a catering job where I spent five days. But at about 1am, my first daughter, who was about 17-years-old at the time, called me on the phone crying that her father raped her that night.
“When I returned, I confronted him but he beat me up and he continued to molest our daughter and each time I confronted him, it earned me a beating. I had no choice but to leave him when I got fed up with seeing him molesting our daughter and later sleeping with me. I took my six children and we relocated.”
She said in 2011, Sylvester’s family settled their differences and urged the couple to reconcile for the sake of the children. She said her husband swore never to touch any of his daughters again and she reluctantly returned to her husband’s house.
Margaret said she was however disappointed to find out that less than a year after moving in with her husband, he went back to his old ways.
She said, “We reconciled in May 2011 and I really thought he had changed but in August last year, I caught him in a compromising situation with our seven-year-old daughter. I called her out and she told me how her father had constantly been abusing her.
“Again, I confronted him and he beat me up. I had to pick my daughter and ran to his brother’s house, where I stayed for three days before I went back home.”
Mrs. Ehijele said she continued to cope with her husband’s ways until he finally raped their 15-month-old granddaughter.
She said, “Because my oldest daughter works, we decided to put her daughter baby at a day care in Ejigbo. I have always been the only one that brings her back at 6pm everyday from the day care. But on that particular day, my husband went to the day care and after an altercation with the teacher, he took the baby home.
“He took the baby home and hours later the baby was crying profusely. When I got home, the baby was still crying and I wondered what was wrong. When I finally took off her diapers so I could bathe her, I noticed she was bleeding in her private part. When I raised the alarm, my husband was unnerved. That was when I suspected him.
“I rushed down to the Ejigbo Police Station and reported the matter.”
Margaret said she had been married to the suspect for over 23 years and lamented that he had had carnal knowledge of all their daughters.
“I have two daughters, four sons and a granddaughter. Sadly, my husband has raped all of the females,” she said.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, said the suspect would soon be charged to court on charges of defilement.
What are they waiting for?
I salute the woman for finally reporting this monster to the police. But I think she didn't have to wait this long, and till the predator had molested two more children in addition to his first offence. While she sounds like a victim of physical and probably emotional abuse herself, I think once she made that first step to leave the home, she should never have allowed herself to be persuaded to return.
The man probably took that as acceptance of his crime, and this time, he did not wait for his daughter and granddaughter to become teenagers like his older daughter before he took advantage of them.
At this point, I suggest the relevant law against "defilement" be expanded to include charges for adults who cover and protect the perpetrator, or those who see abuse and turn a blind eye. In this case, the woman and her family will be culpable too.