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I was violently attacked, raped by our family driver, woman tells court

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A 23-year-old woman (name withheld) on Tuesday at an Ikeja Special Offences Court, said that she was violently attacked and raped as a teenager by one Francis Apai, a 33-year-old driver to her family.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the witness was a 17-year-old when the attack occurred five-years ago on Nov. 19, 2014.

While being led in evidence by the state prosecutor Ms M.I Oshodi, she told the court that Apai was her mother’s driver.

“My mother is a businesswoman, he also drove my father whenever my mother was not around and he takes me and my younger brother to school,’’ she said.

The teenager said that on the day of the incident, she was at home alone because her parents had taken her younger brother who had fallen ill at 3 am that morning to the hospital.

“Suddenly Apai had come into the family home under the guise of being hungry and that he requested that she prepare a meal for him.”

Giving a graphic account of what transpired, she said “I went to prepare his food, I was boiling water and I went to the dining area to take food from the freezer.

“When I went back to the kitchen, he approached me with a knife, threatening to stab me if I shout. I pleaded with him and he dragged me to the parlour, put me on a chair and tried to lay on me.

“I told him that I will report him to my mother and he told me to shut up, he dragged me to my room, asked me to undress, I refused, he hit my stomach with several blows and beat me up and I still refused to undress,’’ she said.

The witness said that he forcefully undressed her, undressed himself and continually punched, strangled her and raped her.

She told the court that she had tried escaping from her attacker but could not.

“I ran to the parlour, he dragged me back to the bedroom, beat me mercilessly and strangled me. While we were struggling, I ran again to the kitchen door, he followed me.

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“I opened the door, I shouted for help and he jammed the door shut with half of my fingers outside and dragged me back to the dining area, hit my head on the wall and beat me mercilessly while I lay on the ground,’’ she said.

The witness said that she escaped from the house naked when she sensed that he was no longer close to her.

“When I ran out naked, my neighbour downstairs saw me and asked me to come into her house but I refused because Francis was with a knife and I was scared that he will come into her house and attack me.

“I ran across the street to another neighbour’s house with blood streaming down my legs and they gave me a wrapper to cover up.

“My neighbours took me to the police station and to the hospital,’’ she said.

The witness further told the court that she could not call her parents during the violent attack because she did not have a mobile phone.

She also said it was not unusual for her to make meal for the driver.

The defence counsel, Mr Qudus Mumuni, made an oral application that lawyers present in court who were not privy to the case and members of the public should vacate the courtroom for the cross-examination of the witness.

“I apply that the evidence of the witness be held in camera as we have reached a pivotal stage of the proceedings,” Mumuni said.

Acceding to his request, Justice Sherifat Solebo ordered lawyers and members of the public to vacate the courtroom.

After the cross-examination of the witness, her father (name withheld) who is a Reverend, gave his testimony.

While being led in evidence by Oshodi, the clergyman explained why he was absent at his residence when the crime allegedly took place.

“On Nov. 19, 2014, we were having a Minister’s Retreat and earlier that morning, I took my son who was sick to the hospital. My driver also did not come to work that day,’’ he said.

The father said that between 5pm and 6pm that day, he received a phone call from his neighbour, Mr Patrick, informing him that Apai had raped his daughter.

“I told him at this instance, I cannot come home that night as I was ministering and that my neighbour who is competent, should act on my behalf.

“I got back home as early as 5.30 am and asked my daughter what happened and she explained what happened to me. Francis’ slippers was in the kitchen and I also saw his boxers in her room.

“I also saw a half smoked cigarette and a sweet in the house. I went to see my neighbour downstairs and he briefed me about the scenario,’’ he said.

The father said he went to Gowon Estate Police Station with his neighbour to make a statement and that the policemen accompanied him to the hospital to see his daughter.

Explaining how the driver was apprehended he said, “the boys in the street along with the person who introduced him to me as a driver searched for him and found him near his house at Idumota.’’

While being cross-examined by Mumuni, the father said that his daughter told him that the cigarette, sweet and other items he found at his house belonged to the driver.

The father said that there were bruises all over his daughter’s body which were allegedly inflicted by Apai during the attack.

Following the cross-examination of the father, the defence closed its case.

NAN reports that on the last court date on Nov. 21, 2019, a medic, Dr Olusegun Bankole of Alimosho General Hospital, had testified that the witness, was severely bruised and had lost her virginity during the attack.

According to the prosecution, the offence contravenes Section 259 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.

Justice Sherifat Solebo adjourned the case until Jan. 8, for defence. (NAN)

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