Augustine Odeh, the father of a 14-year-old girl that was allegedly raped by an All Progressives Grand Alliance chieftain in the Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State, few weeks after her surgery, narrates how his daughter was assaulted, in this interview with JOHN CHARLES
Your daughter was allegedly raped recently. How did it happen?
She is 14-years-old. In the morning of that fateful day, I sent her to go and fry garri for me but, on her way home, she went back to carry firewood and was going back to fry the garri when this man (the accused) met her on the way, slapped her, grabbed her and took her into a room. Then he increased the volume of the radio, which made it impossible for anyone to hear the cry of my girl and succeeded in raping her. When my daughter was resisting, he beat her seriously until he had his way with her.
It was said that she had just had a surgery. What kind of surgery was it?
She had appendicitis and was operated upon a few months ago. That particular place they operated puffed-up up as a result of being beaten by the man (rapist).
How did you hear about it?
It was when my daughter came home crying, and this was around 10am. That was when I saw her body swell up. There was blood on her body as well. When I asked her what happened, as she was explaining to me, she was crying. So, immediately, I took her to the hospital and later went and reported the case to the police. One policeman then followed me to the hospital where he saw the girl.
Was she familiar with the man already, as it is said that many rape victims are abused by people they know and trust?
Not at all! There was no familiarity between them. It was not possible.
How did you know the person who did it?
We live in Otada village, together, though our houses are far apart. The place where my daughter went to fry the garri is close to the man’s house.
Why did you believe the story as explained to you by your daughter?
My daughter came back home with blood on her body and because of the bruises all over her. I trust her. And, for your information, the same man later came to my house to beg me for what he did. He came with three people to beg me. One of the people he came with was his elder brother. They all came to beg that he didn’t know the girl was my daughter and that he thought the girl came from another village.
Was it the same day he raped your daughter that he came to beg?
No, it was the following day.
So, what did you tell him when he pleaded with you to forgive him?
I told him that I could not forgive him. I told him that nothing would make me forgive him till I leave this world.
Why didn’t you contact the police when he came to beg you?
One of the three people that came with him was an elderly person, who was a security agent, so I gave him the respect. It was also an opportunity for the accused person to confess what he did, which he did. And we recorded him. After he left us, I was told that some people confronted him that he actually raped my daughter but we were told that he denied. The elderly man that followed him also denied. Thank God, all that happened when he came was recorded.
Do you know whether he had been raping women before?
Our houses are not close to each other but there were reports that he had been doing such before. His tactic was to prey on ladies sent on errands, lure them inside and rape them. This was what we were hearing before.
Do you also know the alleged abuser personally or is he a stranger?
I know him very well; we are from the same village, so by that, he is not a stranger at all. When he came to beg alongside the three people, he used a decoy that he would prevail on someone owing me money for the land I sold to the person to pay me quickly. The money is N200,000. So, he said that I should forgive him.
A bounty has been provided for whoever knows his whereabouts. Are you hopeful that he will be found?
It is true, but my prayer is that he should be found and I pray to God to replenish all those who have supported my family morally and otherwise.
How did you know he had run away?
He just disappeared from the village. I heard he was at Ochogbo; we told the police and vigilantes. We went there but we did not see him.