The news of an Ikeja Chief Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday which remanded a 37-year-old man, Sunday Stephen, in Kirikiri Correctional Service for allegedly raping his 16-year-old daughter is a drop of water in an ocean. The menace of father raping daughter(s) have become a common thing across Nigeria and beyond today. While the delinquency may not be restricted to Nigeria alone, it is important that we as a Country need to deal with the menace to prevent catastrophic consequences that may mount up from it in future. It is therefore “a bone to break” that Nigerians rise to fight against the spate of the practice and to rid the Country out of the list of societies whose fabrics would be gravely affected due to inability to effect a “stitch in time to save nine”.
In July 2019, a 37-year-old guard, Wasiu Orilonise, publicly confessed that he raped his 15-year-old daughter for verification of her virginity. He confessed that the incident had happened when he was trying to ascertain if the victim had lost her virginity. He revealed that upon discovering that she was still a virgin, he started having sex with her regularly at night and before she would leave for school in the morning. The magistrate who ruled over the case lambasted fathers who were fond of sexually abusing their daughters and other under-aged girls, stating that they were allowing the devil to use them to destroy the society.
Also in the category of father to child rape incidents in 2019 was the case of one 65 year-old man, Bayo Akinwete, in Ado-Ekiti, who took to the diabolical act of raping his 13 year old daughter severally after incapacitating her with alcohol. In the case, the girl-victim under cross examination, revealed that she and her nine year old sister were living with their father, after their mother abandoned them. The girl-victim further disclosed that her father who had been raping her for a while was also in the habit of asking her nine year old younger sister to massage his manhood. The case attracted prosecution after the girl in company of their neighbours reported to the Police.
In similar circumstances in October last year, One Mr. Joseph Sunday of Obot Ideng village in Ibesikpo local government area of Akwa Ibom State was arrested by the police for raping his two daughters aged nine and 13 years. In this case, it was gathered the nefarious father had been having a threesome with his two daughters for over three years after he divorced their mother who relocated to Rivers State. It was reported that the suspect threatened his daughters with a traditional injunction (mbiam), if they make attempts to reveal the illicit affair he was having with them to anyone. The secret act was however blown open when the father caught his 13-year-old daughter with another man who identified himself as the daughter’s boyfriend. Beating up the girl with fury, she decided to expose her father’s diabolical acts with them. The nine-year-old daughter who is also a victim had confessed that she was already in love with her father and enjoyed the act.
It was an embarrassment to Justice when in August last year an Evboriaria chief magistrate’s court in Benin, Edo
State, sentenced a 52-year-old herbalist, Jacob Alonge, to just 14 years in prison for consistently raping his daughter, Gift, at their home in Ososo village, Akoko, Edo State, a case that claimed the lives of a number of people.
The case became so pathetic when the efforts to get the wicked father prosecuted claimed the lives of both the girl and other concerned parties who were making effort to ensure justice is brought to bear. The father who had turned his daughter into a sex slave for several years, had threatened her never to sleep with any other man. The girl who died pregnant with a child of her father at 17, had become pregnant a second time when the matter came to public knowledge which led to his arrest by the police for arraignment in court. The pregnant girl, however, died along with four others in an accident along Benin-Auchi highway, while travelling from Ososo to Benin on the way to the court. Among the dead were Gift’s uncle taking care of her, two workers of a non-governmental organisation, BraveHeart Initiative, helping Gift to secure justice, and the cab driver, and the head of the vigilance group in Ososo, Roland Aiyejina. The Mazda 626 they were travelling in was crushed by a Mercedes Benz 911 truck along Ewu Hill on the Benin-Auchi Road.
After learning of the auto crash, the father who had earlier pleaded guilty to the counts against him and was about to be sentenced, changed his plea on the day his daughter and the others died. At the end of the case, the culprit was sentenced to two years for raping and impregnating his daughter and 14 years for repeated sexual assault. Worst still the presiding chief magistrate, D.I. Adamaigbo, ruled that the counts should run consecutively; meaning he would only be serving a 14 year jail term. This speaks to the length of weakness of our legal system in handling such dastardly act as a father raping his daughter consecutively, impregnating her, aborting for her, impregnating her again, and then she dying with an unborn 21-weeks-old child and five other persons h in the process of seeking justice.
To guide against the sodomy requires the concerted concerns of all. Beyond the place of Government’s effort, it is necessary to state here that Nigerians need to stand against this act at all local community levels. At the family level, it is important, especially for mothers, to guide against disserting their homes and leaving their children behind for their fathers to look after them. While divorce is not in any way encouraged, mothers who have been separated from their husbands with children at their tender age, should avoid leaving their children for their estranged husband to take care of.
Evidence have shown that majority of the cases of fathers who raped their daughters fall within the category of those who have estranged relationship with their wives, or those who have divorced their wives. In line with this, families should make all possible efforts to guide against divorce. Since marriage union are largely ordered by religious institutions in the Country, religious institutions should fine-tune their capacities and structures in strengthening marriage unions. They should develop both proactive and reactive structures well grounded to strengthen the homes of their congregations, as well as to resolve family crises that can lead to breakage of homes, particularly in terms of husband-wife disengagement or divorce.
Nigerians couples should also cultivate the culture of visiting marriage counsellors when they discover troubling strains in their union.
There is a crucial need for the government at all levels to wake up from its slumber. The government has slept too long in taking home affairs too likely in the Country. When the homes are in disarray, the Country can never know peace; the society will be dangling in the midst of one trouble to another. The government needs to come up with stern measures to nip the menace into the bud. The government has to strengthen its institutions that see to home affairs. Parameters that give children the boldness to confront rightful authorities beyond their homes should be instituted by the government for victimised children to report cases of domestic threats such as rape from their fathers to the government authorities. These channels should be incorporated in the school system and down to the local community levels, where threatened children can boldly and freely approach to report untoward advances against them. This will go a long way as a preventive measure before much damages are done to a child. This is the culture in the United States, where Children can approach the Police and other established authority to report any slight violence against them from anybody; their parents inclusive. Children are always known to run to any place they feel they can be protected. Therefore, it is required of the government to come up with institutions in which children have enough confidence to approach freely in reporting threatening cases against them.
Furthermore, it is a duty call on the National Assembly and States’ Houses of Assembly across the Federation government, at this time to come up with stern punitive laws against father rapists in the Country. Laws such as life imprisonment should be enacted with the support of the executive and judiciary to send a note of warning to all those engaged in the felonious act.