By Agnes Igwe
The Chairman, Ebonyi State Family Law Center, Abakaliki, Mrs. Elizabeth Nwali, has called for thorough investigation and prosecution of a police officer attached to Ishieke Division of Nigerian Police Force, Ebonyi State Command, Mr. Johnson Ajali for allegedly raping a thirteen years-old orphan to unconscious state and attempted dumping her at a bush path.
Mrs. Nwali who made the call while briefing newsmen shortly after deliberating on the matter recently in Abakaliki, said that the police officer who is a neighbour to the victim’s foster family at their Ishieke residence on the 21st day of June 2019 reportedly lured the thirteen years old orphan simply identified as Mercy (surname withheld by us) into his room and raped her.
She alleged that Johnson offered the victim a plate of noodles suspected to be drugged with a harmful substance which made her to fall into deep sleep, before having carnal knowledge of her to his feel.
She said that the officer in a bid to cover up the evil act, attempted to dispose the unconscious body of the orphan at a bush path but unfortunately for him, was caught red handed by some members of the orphan’s foster family who were already worried about her unusual absence in the house at about 10pm and were searching for her.
Confirming the incident, the foster father of the victim, Mr. Iruka Nwovu, stated that the girl was later rushed to Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, where she was revived around 5am the following day and started treatment processes on the injuries inflicted on her during the said act.
Mr. Nwovu expressed great worry that the police despite his report had refused to prosecute the suspected officer, even as he (Johnson) was said to be unleashing threats to the lives of all members of Nwovu’s family.
Sequel to that, the foster father Mr. Johnson Nwovu is calling on Ebonyi State Government, Federation of Women Lawyers, Legal Aid Counci, corporate bodies and all good spirited individuals to assist him in ensuring that further harm is not done to the family and to guarantee justice for the raped orphan.
Speaking with the Police Public Relations Officer ASP Loveth Odah, she said the command was yet to get such report.
Efforts to hear directly from the victim was not successful as at the time of press visit, we met her absence at their Ishieke residence.
Mr Johnson Nwovu during interview with newsmen spoke thus in details: “My name is Mr Iruka from Izzi Local Government Area. I live at Ishieke, in Samuel Nwankwo’s compound opposite St. Luke’s lodge. On the 21st day of June this year when I came back from work, I did not see my wife, children and Mercy. When I enquired one of my landlord’s children told me that my wife just went to her mother’s house which is not too far from there, but Mercy’s whereabouts was not known by any one.
“So I sent him to go and call my wife for me .But on coming home she was not also aware of Mercy’s whereabouts. She said Mercy was at home when she was leaving the house. So we started searching for her because that was unusual of her, being away from the house for as late as 8:30pm. I waited for like another 20 minutes without seeing Mercy, everywhere was dark. I told my wife to go inside with the children that I must find out what is happening. So I took the torch light to look for her.
“Because since I started living with her, I have not noticed such unusual move. I know that that small girl cannot go too far on her own. So I decided to hang around. I checked backyard but she was not there. I went to St. Luke’s Lodge, the gate was locked. I stayed at a hidden place with my torch monitoring the entire compound to know where she will come from.
“Around after 10pm, I saw my landlord’s son Emmanuel open St. Luke’s Lodge which was unusual at that time. Remember, I was in a hidden place monitoring everything happening around there. Shortly after he entered, I saw officer Johnson coming out with him. As they move out of the gate I noticed the officer was carrying something like human being. I kept watching them to understand what was going on.
“Then a thought came into me, that that person he was carrying may be the Mercy I am looking for, so I watched closer. I started following them at a closer range unknown to them. So I saw Officer Johnson carrying Mercy to the bush behind our yard.”
“Having noticed that something was actually going on negatively, I flashed by torch light and shouted at them to stand still. Flashing the light closer I saw my daughter Mercy already on the ground unconscious. So I held the officer on his belt asking him what he did to her. He started begging that it was the devil’s work. I ordered him to carry her up and we now went out of the bush to the front of our yard where I raised alarm for people to come and see what I saw.”
“The people that came out were all surprised at what happened and who the rapist is. They started asking him what actually happened and he narrated that he gave her indomie to eat. Then the Doctor living beside me asked him what he put inside it. He replied that he did not put anything in the indomie alleging that he just called Mercy, gave her indomie while she was eating they were discussing and she suddenly fainted. Then they asked him why he went to dump her at the bush.”
“At that juncture I couldn’t continue hearing that rubbish, I snatched Mercy from him, pleaded with another neighbor who has a keke and we rushed her to Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki. On our way going on a second thought we went back and took the police man with us.”
“We went to FETHA 1 they told us go write statement at the police. So we went to Kpirikpiri Police Station and made statement. Sequel to that they put the policeman into cell and gave us another police man who assisted us to take the girl to FETHA 2 that night.
“So, to the glory of God, the girl regained consciousness around 5am the following morning in the hospital. There was a test the doctor asked us to conduct and people that would have conducted it were not around that night. So they collected specimen and asked us to go home and come later for the result. The following day when I went for it, there I got a call from the police station asking about Mercy. I told them she is now conscious but there are some test the doctor asked us to conduct. Then he said their DPO is not around to bring money that I should source funds to ensure she is fully recovered. Still worried about that, I suddenly got another call that the police people are now conducting mass arrest of people in my yard and surroundings instead of prosecuting their colleague who was caught red handed in the act. I got more confused.
“Consequently, I wrote a petition to the state Police Commissioner and all of innocent people arrested were released. But from time to time they come and arrest people from there even on Sunday.
“Because of the way police are doing in the matter, I reported it to State Ministry of Women Affairs. After some time I did not see any meaningful action from them so I now reported it to the Family Law Center here.
“I want government to look into this matter, to protect the right of the little girl, the police man is not above Nigerian law he should be prosecuted. Another problem is that the police are threatening me. They are arresting people every time and ask me to come and settle the matter so that they will be released.
“Yesterday they even arrested me and accused me of taking laws into my hand by inflicting injury on the officer rapist. I told them I did not beat him that I was even the one that saved him from been lynched by the angry mob that night. After everything, I had to call someone who came and bailed me out.