*How missing N1,500 exposed her ordeal
*Randy man on the run; wife in court for assault
*She hit my head with pestle, my ankle with rod—VICTIM
By Egufe Yafugborhi
WARRI—THERE was widespread anger at the Effurun Magistrate’s District Court 1, sitting in Uvwie Local Government Area, Delta State, when trial opened, penultimate Monday, in a case of sexual abuse and torture of 13-year-old Junior Secondary School, JSS, 2 student of Ekpan Basic Secondary School (names withheld).
The accused, Mrs. Chibuzor Onyeji, who resides at Oghoyoma Onomokpome Street, Ekpan, was charged with assault and grievous injuries on the visibly traumatised girl, who is her cousin and had been living with her since 2010.
Police are searching for her husband, Francis Onyeji, now at large, whose alleged sexual abuse of the girl resulted in his wife’s vicious knife attack.
Virtually all lawyers and others present in the opening trial were up against the accused counsel, when he argued that his client’s life-threatening attack on the girl was only an accident and that Mrs. Onyeji had right to be angry.
There were further angry mutters in the court when the accused knelt down and begged the girl to forgive her after pleading not guilty to the one-count charge of assault and causing grievous injuries.
Started 2 years ago
According to the victim, her cousin’s husband started abusing her sexually and pacifying her with cash over two years ago, whenever he was off duty.
On one of the days, part of the N1,500 which he allegedly gave her, after sleeping with her the previous day, got missing in school during break period and she reported the matter to her class teacher.
After a fruitless search, her classmates, who felt wrongly accused, followed the complainant home after closing to express their anger to her guardian, Mrs. Onyeji.
The girl said: “My aunt asked where I got the money and l told her it was her husband who gave me after sleeping with me. She said it was a lie.”
“At about 9.30p.m., she woke me up, heated a knife on the fire and started to use it on my body, saying she will kill me half-dead. She used pestle to hit my head several times and iron rod to hit my ankles.
“She wanted to pour boiled water on me, but she later said no, vowing to do that when I return from school the next day. She put the hot knife in my chest; this other old mark on my back was when she asked me to boil yam.
“She said the sizes were too big and took a piece from the boiling pot, unzipped my dress and placed it on my back.”
Why we invited Police—Vice Principal
Vice Principal, VP, at Ekpan Basic Secondary School, Mrs. Queenbetty Unogwa, said the school authority had sent for Mrs. Onyeji several times because of her ward’s incessant lateness and absenteeism.
“The pupil claimed it was due to prolonged engagement with house chores, which caused her to miss mathematics, agricultural science and two other papers during last term examinations. But Mrs Onyeji refused honouring the invitations.”
When the accused brought the girl to school with the intention of disgracing her publicly after inflicting the knife injuries on her the night before, the school authority cashed on the rare opportunity to get to the bottom of the oddity.
The VP said: “We saw the degree of burns and swellings on her head and we started asking the woman questions. But her behaviour was very unruly, prompting us to call the police. The girl is a very intelligent girl despite the situation she found herself.
“She is among the best in her class; l believe that she would do far better given a conducive environment.”
The school immediately had to put her in care of the school’s Guidance Counsellor, Mrs. Rita Obuh, who took custody because the police said they could not keep her at the station.
Trial so far
Before adjourning the matter to July 21, trial magistrate, Mrs. Blesing Ideh, granted the accused bail as a nursing mother of a three-month old baby in the sum of N500,000 with a surety in like sum, which must include a confirmed landed property within the Magisterial District, while the accused must be present in court at every sitting.
Also, a joint prayer by the Child Welfare/Development Officer from Delta State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Lopgun Solomon, and Mr. Omorere of the Nigerian Child Welfare Fund, that the court grant them custody of the girl was granted, despite the appeal of Pius Nworie, biological father of the abused teenager, to take his daughter home.
The girl is presently in an undisclosed orphanage, where she is recovering from the physical injuries after undergoing medical examination and treatment.