By OSA AMADI
T here was pandemonium one afternoon at No. 9 Awofodu Street, Pedro, Lagos. Mama Nonso could not be consoled. She was screaming on top of her voice. It was not the scream of fright; it was an angry sound of a female animal whose young has fallen into the hands of a predator.
All the tenants rushed into her apartment to see her griping Leke’s manhood in one hand and dealing blows all over him with the other hand and biting him. Leke was a young man who lived in one room with his mother on the basement of the same building. He was always in Mama Nonso’s apartment, watching movie with the woman’s little female children, and occasionally running errands for the woman and her husband.
People tried to rescue Leke from Mama Nonso who had practically turned crazy with rage but they could not. She lifted every object within her reach in the sitting room – side stools, glassware, picture frames – and smashed them on Leke’s head. As she snatched a bottle filled with roasted groundnut from the table, some powerful men moved in and pinned her down, rescuing Leke from her before she could commit murder.
By that time the entire compound had been filled with people, even from nearby buildings, whose attention had been attracted by the commotion.
“What is the problem, Mama Nonso?” some elderly men asked her.
“Ask him!” she screamed, leaping from the floor and grabbing Leke again, pounding and clawing his face. “Ask this animal called Leke. I caught him red-handed with his penis inside my baby’s bum-bum – This little girl who is not up to 3 years old!”
“Aaaaahhhh!!!!!!! Leke?” the people shouted. Of course Leke denied it, but everyone knew that Mama Nonso could not be mad like that for any other reason. According to Mama Nonso, she left her little daughters in the sitting room with Leke and went to the kitchen where she was cooking. They were all watching a movie. Leke put little Nonso on his laps pretending to be babysitting her, but working his manhood into her buttocks. The mother suddenly came into the sitting room from the kitchen and caught him right in the act! Hell hath no fury like a woman whose baby is sexually molested.
That was in 1995. Several years later in 2007, and several kilometers farther at 7 Fajeromi Street, off Igbo-elerin Road, Okokomaiko, Lagos, a marketing executive with African Alliance Insurance company (name withheld) convinced a 13-year old student of Evangel College, Okokomaiko, living with her aunty next flat to the marketing executive, to come out to the staircase by 5.00 AM every morning to meet him.
The marketing executive had a perfectly laid out design to bring himself and the 13-year old girl out from the flats without his wife and children and the under-aged girl’s aunty and husband knowing what was happening. The insurance marketer had an industrial diesel engine generator installed downstairs at the backyard, of which his wife’s brother who lived with him used to come down by 5.00 AM every morning to switch on. But the insurance man decided to take over the job of switching on the generator every morning. So he told the 13-year old student to come out every morning as soon as she heard the sound of the generator. He told the girl to pretend to be sweeping the balcony, and from there unlock their entrance door and come out to the staircase where he would be waiting for her.
And so this secret meeting between the 57 year old insurance marketing executive and the 13-year old student went on for several months before the lid was blown off. As part of the routine checks on the girl by her aunty, the aunty found one thousand naira notes hidden among the girl’s clothes in her room. When the girl came back from school, her aunty questioned her about the source of the money, and the student said her father, the aunt’s elder brother, who lived in Ijegun, Lagos sent her the money. The aunty picked her phone immediately and called her father, but the father said he had never sent any money to his daughter. So she began to flog the girl with cane, and told her clearly that she was not going to stop the beating until she told her the true source of the thousands of naira she found among her clothes. That was when the girl opened up and told her aunty that it was Mr. – the insurance marketingexecutive that was giving her the money!
“What work do you do for Mr. – for which he pays you?” the aunty asked the girl. Having been forced to let the cat out of the bag in the first place, the 13-year old girl spilled all the beans, painting in graphic details, everything that transpired between her and the insurance man under the staircase. She confessed that the insurance man had been kissing and fingering her under the staircase; that he had tried several times to coerce her into having sex with him but that she did not agree; that the man had promised he would do anything for her if only she would allow him to put his penis into her private part. Angrily, the aunty confronted the insurance man the following day as he was driving into the compound. He denied, saying he never did such thing with the 13-year old. This further infuriated the aunty who pounced on the man and called the attention of everyone around to the matter. That evening the insurance man went to the Okokomaiko police station and reported that he was assaulted by the aunty of the 13-year old girl.
The police came and arrested the aunty and the husband, who decided to take along with them to the police station, the 13-year old girl. After they had written their statements, the police became convinced that the insurance man had been molesting the 13-year old girl under the staircase. So they detained him.
That night, the Investigation Police Officer, IPO, a seasoned officer who had perfected the art of grilling suspects both physically and psychologically, informed the insurance executive that he would invite the Vanguard’s crime reporter in the morning to come and take the story for publication. He even cast the headline of the story for the insurance man who was still denying the allegation: “African Alliance Insurance Executive in police net for molesting 13-year old girl.”
From that point the insurance man started shaking and pleading with both the police and the 13-year old parents and relatives who came from different parts of Lagos and began to protest at the police station. The insurance man’s wife, a young pretty woman, and other members of his family also came to the police station. Initially, they had been angry that their brother was assaulted by a woman. As the case changed, they were bemused. The wife could not believe it. They all pleaded with the police and the victim’s family not to allow the matter go beyond the walls of the police station for fear that the African Alliance Insurance Company might sack the insurance executive and throw his wife and children into suffering.
The victim’s family left the matter, but the police did not. The insurance man was made to pay huge sum before he was let off the hook.
Back to 1995 at 9 Awofodu Street, Pedro, Lagos, you could see a little Hausa girl, not more than 9 years old, washing plates at the public tap in front of the old one-storey building. She was new in the yard. Everyone had assumed that the over 50 years old Sanni (not his real name), a foreign currency exchange dealer, had brought the little girl the last time he travelled to his hometown in northern Nigeria to be his house girl. Sanni had several wives and children but none lived with him at Awofodu.
Neighbours, however became worried that the little girl was always screaming at night. The scream got too loud and so unbearable to the neighbours one night that they decided to intervene. “Sanni, why is your house girl always screaming at night?” the elderly men the tenants delegated to Sanni asked him in his sitting room.
Relaxed, and obviously enjoying the scenario, Sanni said to them: “Aisha is not my house girl. She is my wife. I have to consummate my marriage, or don’t I have the right to? Thank you very much for your concern, but she will get used to it.” Wide eyed and apparently disgusted, the delegates left Sanni’s apartment, and the matter was closed. The culture of early marriage in northern Nigeria is closely connected to the problem under discuss, insists Elochukwu Charity, who runs an NGO that fights sexual abuse of children and domestic violence. Charity, who had a close shave with a pedophile at age 9, is not the only one mad at men who do this terrible harm to kids. Early this year, actress, Stella Damascus, was furious over Senate’s refusal to outlaw child marriage. She summarized her views in two sharp and short messages:
“#ChildNotBride – EducationNotEjaculation!”
Messing up children sexually is not restricted to the secular world. Some religious leaders who ought to be in the forefront of the efforts to heal society of this terrible perversion are also neck deep in the act. On March 3, 2014, Vanguard newspaper carried a report of a protest by some women and NGOs over a Lagos pastor accused of sexually abusing children. The protesters were led by Josephine Effah-Chukwuma of Project Alert and Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin of Women Arise. The pastor, a proprietor of an Ophannage at Akute-Ijoko, was said to have relocated the orphanage from its former location because his crime was exposed. According to the women activists, “the pastor has a four-count charge of sexual abuse of children hanging over his head.” Two girls from the orphanage were said to have alleged that they had been sexually molested by the pastor.
Similarly, there was another report of an Islamic teacher (see www.jihadwatch.org/2014/03/uk-quran…) who sexually abused an 11 year- old girl as he was teaching her, but the teacher was spared jail.
Since the past 10 years, rape of children by older men has been increasing in Nigeria especially in the northern part of the country. In 2008, the then deputy police boss of Kano State, Suleiman Abba, disclosed a case of a 70-year man who raped a 3-year old girl, counting up to 54 recorded cases of child rape in the state alone. He told of another case in which the victim was raped to death. According to the deputy police chief, a few young men rape minors, but majority of those who commit this crime are aged between 45 and 70, and their victims are from 3 to 11 years old. He re-echoed a well known fact about rape: that majority of the parents of the victims do not report to the police when these things happen to them for fear that it will attract a social stigma to their kids.
Perhaps to stem this heinous crime, a fundamental version of Islamic law was reintroduced in Kano in 2001 but a prominent Islamic scholar wanted more action against the crime.
The crime of elder men having sex with children has no geographical boundary. As a matter of fact, it is a transnational problem. At the international level, it is like pure madness: In Bangalore, India, a 70-year old teacher was arrested for sexually abusing a minor girl in school premises. This took place barely one month after the gang-rape, in the same country, of a six-year old girl which evoked public outrage.
At Malvern School of Music, 44 years old Anton Fomin, a Russian piano teacher, is standing trial for sexually abusing three 6-year old children. The children had told their parents that Fomin had been showing them pornographic images from his laptop computer as well as fingering their private parts while teaching them. When police arrested Fomin and inspected the files in his laptop computer, they found exactly the images the children had described.
It is possible that the men who tear little girls apart may be considering themselves holy and straight when compared to other guys who screw under-aged boys and animals. On August 19, the Vanguard newspaper reported a story of a 19-year old man who raped a chicken to death in Ondo. And recently in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, a Catholic Archbishop, Jozef Wesolowski, Vatican’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic, was being defrocked and tried in the Vatican for sexually molesting some boys regularly at the oceanfront where he used to disguise himself and offer the boys money to perform sexual acts. Reports say it was the first time a top Vatican ambassador, who served as a personal envoy of the pope was being accused of sexual abuse of minors. It has sent shock waves through the Vatican and two predominantly Catholic countries that have only begun to grapple with clergy sexual abuse: the Dominican Republic and Poland, where Mr. Wesolowski was
ordained by the Polish prelate who later became Pope John Paul II.
Statistics are like luxuries in Nigeria – mostly non-existent or only available to a few persons or agencies at worst. Elsewhere, substantial data on sexual abuse of children abound. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, up to 80,000 cases of child sexual abuse are reported every year. The number of unreported instances, it says, is far greater, because children are afraid to disclose it, and the legal procedure for proving it is difficult. In fact another organisation, the Child Sex Abuse Prevention and Protection Centre, says 88 per cent of cases of adults sexually abusing children are not reported.
Why men do it
Like in ritual killing, superstition has been fingered as one reason why men defile babies. According to those in this school of thought, some men have been told by their medicine men that they would become wealthy if they have sex with a female between 3 and 11 years old, while others believe that sex with a minor would cure them of certain sicknesses and sexually transmitted diseases. While that may be possible in explaining the reasons for rape of minors in Africa and other third world countries where the culture of superstition is strong, it is definitely not enough to account for sexual abuse of children in civilized societies of Europe and America. A much more plausible reason is the increasingly twisted, warped, perverted mind of this generation.
Preponderance of Pornography and media influence
Two other related villains people point at as being partly responsible for the minor sexual scourge are proliferation of pornography and electronic media, especially television and the Internet. Unlike before, more people have access to mobile internet in their phones and with pornographic video materials flying all over this medium, it is not surprising that most people are hooked. “On these sites,” says Dr. Olatunji, a senior lecturer at Lagos State University, “people view adults having sex with kids, and after seeing those materials, the next step is to try to put them into practice.” In addition, he says, programming on television stations these days have sexual undertones which promote immorality.
Some people have blamed the moral failure of modern society for this ill. “There is general collapse of morality among people of all nations today,” says Pastor Merith. “These things will continue until the world comes to an end. They are signs of end-time.”
However, Charity Elochukwu is more optimistic that there is a way out: “Nigeria needs in-corrupt law makers, in-corrupt leaders. There will be peace if the 360 formula is applied in Nigeria. If not, Nigeria will remain a country that allows its minors get hurt without knowing they are hurt.”
Children, they say, are the future leaders. If we keep destroying them before they grow up, there may be no future at worst, or at best, we will end up having a world filled with monsters as people.