By Akanbi Victor, Abuja
Child molestation and sexual abuse is fast becoming a daily occurrence in our society and this is as a result of the outright negligence on the part of parents.
This societal ill can be reduced to the barest minimum if parents, regardless of their busy lifestyle, pay more attention to their children.
Several years ago, at a community called Igarra in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State, there was a child molestation and sexual abuse episode that shocked an area referred to as Uffa quarters of the town.
The Suleman family, even though the father of the house was no more, was a happy one until the incident shattered everything.
Mrs. Suleman was a matron of the general hospital in the community. She had to work to fend for herself and her three children since the demise of her husband. She had a very busy schedule which really didn’t afford her enough time to spend with her children.
Her busy lifestyle and having to carry all the burden of the family made her pay very little attention to the activities of her young son, Nusa who was also her last child.
As long as he ate well, went to school and did his homework, she felt everything was good. She displayed the same attitude towards her other two grown children, Bola, 23 (who was in the University of Benin at the time studying mass communication) and Ibrahim, 18 (who was seeking admission into the higher institution).
Nusa, a nine-year-old and a primary School pupil, was a very intelligent boy and was loved by his classmates and teachers.
Mrs. Suleman arrived from work one evening and a cripple, 35-years-old Ojo, who lived across the street that walked with the aid of a walking stick offered her a hand in carrying the groceries she had bought, on her way back from work.
This act of kindness, which she didn’t know was a one-off act, melted her heart and she quickly developed a soft spot for the cripple.
Despite several warnings by her first son, Ibrahim not to let Ojo into their home, Mrs. Suleman allowed the cripple into their home and most times offered him food. Ojo became close to Mrs. Suleman’s family and had access to the house that he could come and go as he pleased. That was the beginning of the tragedy.
On the fateful day, it all started, Ojo had visited the house and was offered a meal which he hurriedly ate. Afterwards, he claimed he was pressed and asked to use Mrs. Suleman’s convenience. She couldn’t let him use one of the toilets in the main house, so she asked Nusa, who was the only one at home with her at the time (as the maid had gone out on an errand), to take the cripple to the boy’s quarters to ease himself there.
On getting to the boys quarters, Ojo tricked the poor boy, and then forcing him to swallow his semen and subsequently tried to penetrate the innocent child but didn’t succeed. When he finished, he threatened to break the little boy’s head with his walking stick and kill him if he tells anyone.
That’s how the wicked cripple started and continued to molest and sexually abuse the 9-year- old for weeks.
Nusa was so traumatized by the abuse that he became sluggish, sick and reticent.
It took a visit to a neighbour’s for Mrs. Suleman to realize something was wrong with her son. Her neighbour, Mama Jude, was the one who noticed Nusa’s reclusive behaviour and called his mom’s attention to it. She told Mrs. Suleman that if a child becomes withdrawn, then there’s something wrong. And advised Mrs. Suleman to check her child and find out what the problem was.
Mrs. Suleman started observing her little boy from that very evening and questioned him about his new withdrawn behaviour but the poor boy refused to talk as he was too scared to die if he tells anyone, as the cripple had made him believe.
No one could get him to talk or loosen up until Bola, his elder sister, returned from school for a break.
Bola, was a easy-going person that got along with everyone because of her friendly nature. And because of her closeness to her siblings, she was able to break Nusa.
After much persuasion and petting, Nusa confessed to his elder sister. She was shocked at what she heard after the boy had spoken, his mom was shocked and the entire area was in shock when they heard what Ojo (the cripple) had be doing to the innocent child.
Mrs. Suleman was devastated. She blamed herself for not paying close attention to her children. The thought of her son being sexually abused while she was in the house and not sensing anything made her feel so much guilt.
Neighbours suggested the cripple be severely punished. Some suggested he be fed cement and dumped in a river to die but Mrs. Suleman refused because she was as afraid as she was shocked to agree to involve in a murder of another human.
The case was reported to the Police, Ojo was arrested and arraigned in court. He was eventually sentenced to eighteen months in jail after the court hearing but the judgement didn’t go down well with his family. They came after Mrs. Suleman with threats and harassments.
The Suleman family eventually moved and relocated as the threats, harassments, shame and stigma on the family was too much to bear.