* Orders arrest, prosecution of Septuagenarian, two sons for defiling 9yr old
*Another 65yr-old man, others, also face trial
By Evelyn Usman
As she sat in the midst of some officials of the Edo State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, inside the Evbuoriaria Magistrate Court, Benin City, with her hands folded and gazing into space, nine year-old Lilian( not real name) musings were interrupted by by the sound of c—o-u—r—t , from the court’s registrar who announced the arrival of the Magistrate.
Sighting her 70-year-old grandfather, Francis Ezomo and his two sons: Nosa Ezomo (26) and Festus Ezomo (29) in the dock, the Primary four pupil broke down in tears, refusing to succumb to persuasion from officials of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development , for her to stop crying.
The septuagenarian was arrested for allegedly defiling his wife’s nine year-old relative , who called him grandfather.
As if that was not enough trauma for her,, his two sons, also allegedly took turns to unleash their sexual desires on her at their Oliha residence, Benin city.
Pedophiles abound in the Nigerian society: from the North, South , East and West, as they wreck havoc in the life of the girl child on daily basis with impunity.
In most cases, their victims go through emotional and psychological trauma in silence, either out of fear of being stigmatised by the society if they speak out, or due to threat from these sexual predators.
In a move to fight for these helpless and defenseless girls, some of who lost their lives in the process of resorting to self help by taking wrong medication to terminate the resultant pregnancies, or visiting quack doctors, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, has declared war against pedophiles in the state
His action, followed the increasing report on how little girls were sexually abused by those they call daddy, uncles and teachers at schools.
To set the pace for action , he mandated the Edo State Universal Basic Education Board , SUBEB to train teachers in its Edo Basic Education Transformation, Edo BEST programme, with the aim of identifying pupils in primary and secondary schools who were being abused physically and sexually and get the pedophiles to face the wrath of the law.
Aside the Child rights law in the state, Obaseki, also, instituted an inter- ministerial committee , charged with the responsibility to drive the campaign against child molestation in remote parts of the state where such crimes prevail.
This paid off following the arrest and subsequent arraignment of the Pa Ezomo and his two children on a two-count charge of conspiracy and defilement.
Crime Guard gathered that while the septuagenarian was granted bail in the sum of N100,000 with a surety in the like sum, his sons: Nosa and Festus, were denied same , as the case was adjourned.
Though the suspects pleaded not guilty but medical test conducted on the pupil , showed that her hymen was broken, indicating penetration.
Several other arrests have bee made since the inception of the committee comprising representative of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development , Edo SUBEB, Civil Society Organisation and the Media .
Among them was that of 65-year-old Omokhafe Mathew, over alleged defilement of a 13-year
In this case , the pupil of a government primary school in Akoko- Edo Local Government Area of Edo state , the suspect did not only allegedly defiled the minor, but the unholy act resulted in pregnancy.
Explaining the role played the committee in the arrest, Acting Chairperson of Edo SUBEB, Dr. Joan Osa Oviawe, in the arrest, said: “We took a course of action by visiting and ensuring that the case was transferred from the Akoko-Edo division to the State Criminal Investigation Department in Benin City.”
“ With the collaborative efforts of the Child Protection Network, SUBEB was able to handover the child’s custody to the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development”, assuring that the culprit would be charged to court to ensure justice was served in the case”.
The chairperson who described an earlier arrested of 70-year-old Ezomo and his two sons, as a mile stone in the fight against in the state, said “ the issue came to the limelight when the headmistress of the minor’s school noticed a change of behaviour in her and decided to ask what the problem was.
In response, girl narrated her ordeal to the headmistress who informed the Education Secretary of the local government council where the alleged crime took place.
“ Thereafter, we then swung into action and got the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development involved.
“ When we could not get the necessary action required from the Police, the state government swung into action and these three men were apprehended almost immediately.
“ At the moment, the child is in the custody of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. SUBEB will ensure that her education is not truncated.
“What the men did is bad and their actions have attempted to destroy the life and future of the minor. They took advantage of the child and exposed her to trauma. We have waded into the case to ensure justice prevails”.
Again, the committee arrested another pedophile , Mr Lambart(Surname withheld) (58) and handed him over to the Police over allegation of defilement of a 12-year-old girl in Benin city..
In this case the suspect was alleged to have been luring the girl with money whenever she was on her way to school.
Explaining how the burble burst, Dr Oviawe said, “SUBEB received report of the incident from the class teacher of the 12-year-old girl, who is a pupil in one of the primary schools. She had observed that the girl was always absent from school and contacted the girl’s guardian to find out the cause of her absenteeism.
“ The girl told her class teacher how she was being sexually abused by Mr. Lambert, in his house during school hours since 2017. She alleged that the man gives her money after defiling her.
“ The case was reported by SUBEB to the Police, following which Mr. Lambert was apprehended”
Dr. Osa Oviawe said that the reason for parading culprits of child defilement was not only to shame them, but also to communicate the state government’s avowed stance against what they have come to represent in society.
As part of modalities put in place to check excesses of pedophiles, SUBEB chairperson said that several teachers had been trained on way to identify children who have been physically and sexually abused , even as she expressed optimism that the inter ministerial committee would help curb the antics of pedophiles, by developing a framework to help identify, arrest and prosecute those involved in child defilement in the state.