A 100-level undergraduate of the Bauchi State University, Gadau, who was reportedly kidnapped by suspected cultists on June 24, but found five days later in Jos, Plateau State, shares her story with ARMSTRONG BAKAM
Your parents reported you missing after suspected cultists kidnapped you. What exactly happened to you?
On Wednesday, June 24, around 2pm, I left my uncle’s house in Rafin Zurfi, where I was staying with the intention of coming to see my parents at their house at Kafin Tafawa. When I took a tricycle, I told the driver I would stop at the junction leading to my father’s house and buy some cement because my sister and I had agreed to buy it and do some repairs in the house. I think something happened along the way and I lost my mind. When I woke up, I found myself in a strange place in the bush and I saw a hunter sitting close to where I had been lying and that was on a Friday. I asked the man where I was and he told me that it was Kari, in the Darazo Local Government Area of Bauchi State (along Bauchi-Potiskum Road and about 133km away from Kafin Tafawa).
What else did he tell you?
He told me that he found me and kept me there and was waiting for me to wake up so that he would ask me what exactly happened to me. I told him that I didn’t know what exactly happened and how I got there. I then explained to him how I left my uncle’s house on my way to my father’s house. He took me to the motor park and bought sachet water for me and I washed my face and hands. He also gave me N2,000 and left. I left for Bauchi that Sunday morning. I arrived in Bauchi at about 11am and I took a tricycle to Rafin Zurfi. But when I got to Yelwa (about 2km to my uncle’s house), I remembered how my uncle was molesting me sexually and how my parents are poor with nobody to fight for me. Because my uncle had been assisting my father to pay my school fees and other needs, he threatened me with that and when I remembered all that, I told the driver of the tricycle to turn back and take me to the park. He took me to the Bauchi-Jos motor park where I boarded a vehicle to Jos, Plateau State.
You said you left your uncle’s house on Wednesday and while at the junction to your father’s house, you passed out and woke up at Kari on Friday. Where were you between Wednesday and Friday and what happened to you?
I don’t know what happened to me during that period and where I was.
You had your phone with you. Why didn’t you call your parents when you woke up in Kari on Friday?
The reason I didn’t call them was because when I woke up, I saw some messages on my phone. I saw a message from my cousin who said he wanted to talk to me and I read some other messages and discovered that it had been reported that I had been kidnapped and that some people said, ‘We don’t need money, we only need her virginity.’ I became confused and I sent a text back to my cousin, who’s my uncle’s son, asking him what he meant. But he didn’t reply. I called him but his number wasn’t going through, so I sensed that something was definitely wrong. I thought of calling my father but I felt I should wait for my cousin’s reply first because I am close to him, though he is two years older than me. I decided not to call my father because I knew he would be under tension as he is someone who cares so much about me. I wanted to know what was going on before calling him.
A day after you went missing, a text message was reportedly sent using your phone to your father that you had been kidnapped by suspected cultists and that they didn’t want any money but your virginity. Another text was sent on Saturday that you were dead. Who sent the two messages?
I don’t know who sent the text messages. The only conversation I had through text messages was with my cousin, Junior, based on the one he sent earlier to me.
Why did you travel to Jos and what did you go there to do?
It was when I remembered how my uncle was molesting me that I decided to travel there. I felt even if I told anyone that my uncle was molesting me, nobody would believe me. I complained to Junior three times about how his father had been molesting me. There was a recording on his phone and he was the witness I had; he presented that as the evidence at the police station. He knew everything that was happening. I didn’t know anyone in Jos but I still went there. On my way to Jos, a lady boarded the same car I was in at Toro and when we got to the terminus in Jos, she alighted and I also alighted there. I asked her if she was based in Jos and she said yes. I lied to her that I lost my transport money and I still had a journey ahead of me. I pleaded with her to accommodate me for the night pending when money would be sent to me to continue my journey. While I was in her house, anytime a call came into my phone, I had to go out of her house to answer it and if I had to make any call, I would go out and make the call. She became suspicious and when I was sleeping, she picked my phone and saw those whose calls I rejected. She called my dad and told him that I was in her house in Jos.
For how long had you been staying in your uncle’s house?
I had been in his house for about three years now. I started staying there when I was in my final year of secondary school and I was there before the incident happened.
When did your uncle start molesting you sexually?
It was in March 2020 that he started molesting me sexually. At first, he was making advances towards me. Our university was on strike before the COVID-19 pandemic. Just before we were to leave school, when the COVID-19 pandemic started, my uncle started calling me. He first sent me a text message that he would like to speak with me but he wanted it to be private. He then told me that a gardener planted a tree and he watered it and it grew and started producing fruits, and that it was time for the gardener to reap from what he had sown. He asked me whether the gardener should pluck the fruit from the tree or leave it. I told him that since it was his tree and he planted it, he was free to eat of its fruit at any time or any moment.
What was his response?
He said I should forget the fact that he was my father and that I should talk as if I had never known him. I told him I couldn’t do that and that I had so much respect for him because after my father, he was next that I could boast of. He told me to forget about that and think of him as my boyfriend. I told him I couldn’t do that and I hung up on him. My uncle called again and asked me to meet him at one hotel like that in Azare, that he was going there, and I told him that there was no problem but that I would come with my friend. But he said no, that I should come alone because he wanted to tell me something. At the end of the day, I didn’t go. The next day, my phone was off. But when I charged it, he was the first to call me. But I lied to him that I had gone there (the hotel) but didn’t see him and my phone was down. He then asked me to come at that moment but I refused and told him that I was on my way to the park en route to Bauchi. He then told me that we should meet at home.
What happened when you got to his house in Bauchi?
When I got to his house in Bauchi, I met him sitting in the parlour. I collected money from him and paid the commercial motorcyclist who took me home. My uncle didn’t talk to me that day about what he had been disturbing me for. In fact, for a whole week, he never said anything about it. It was after a week that he sent me a text message that I should meet him at a hotel in Yelwa. But I told him I couldn’t go there because I was busy at my tailoring shop. He insisted that I should come, even if it was for a minute, but I refused. That evening, when I went home, I went out of the house to answer a call and I sat on a bench there. While I was making the call, he came and sat down by my side; that was about 8pm. At that time, I had Junior’s phone in my hand and my uncle asked me about his discussion with me. Immediately, I used his son’s phone to record the conversation. He kept on talking to me and said he would go to Azare and that I should meet him there. But I refused. I saved the conversation on Junior’s phone when my uncle left.
Was his son aware of what was going on?
He (Junior) sat close to me and was going through his phone and saw the recording. He played it and that was when he knew exactly what was going on. I told him everything and he told me that that was not the first time he was hearing something like that about his father.
You alleged that your uncle raped you. How did that happen?
That day, his wife, who had not been too well and used to sit under a banana tree in the compound, sent Junior to the automated teller machine at the federal polytechnic (in the area) to withdraw some money for her. My other sister had gone out, so he (my uncle) used that opportunity to enter our room while I was sleeping and locked the door. And that was how he raped me; it was around 11am.
Why didn’t you shout for help?
I did my best. I shouted but nobody heard me. He overpowered me and raped me. In fact, I hit him so hard on his shoulder that when he went out and his wife asked him what had happened to him, he lied to her that he took a heavy load which affected him. I kept crying throughout that day and wasn’t myself. Junior kept asking me what was wrong with me but I told him there was nothing wrong. My aunt called me to chat with her. I quickly wiped my tears and she asked me what happened to me because she saw that I was moody and quiet. I couldn’t tell her what happened because she wouldn’t believe me.
Why didn’t you tell your parents?
I didn’t tell them because I knew my father would be disappointed in him because he is his biological younger brother. I was even thinking that he was going to stop after the first incident. That same day I left the house, he tried making another move but I told him that if he tried raping me again, it was either he died or I died and that one person must die. He then left me.
How do you feel knowing that the man who allegedly raped you is your dad’s younger brother?
Seriously, I feel bad and it’s like my life has been shattered. I was frustrated about what had happened; that was why I did what I did.
How did you inform your dad about what your uncle did to you?
My father came with him and a policeman to pick me in Jos, and it was when they came that I narrated to them that my uncle had been molesting me sexually, after the policeman pressured me. When I told them, my father was so disappointed in his brother for doing what he did to me because he never expected that to happen. We went to the police, investigation began and my uncle was immediately arrested. The issue of kidnapping has been dropped. What is being talked about now is the issue of rape. Human rights groups have waded into the matter and have said they would not allow the matter to be dropped and that my uncle must face the law.
Have you forgiven your uncle for what he did to you?
Yes, I have forgiven him but I will never forget what he did to me. I will never stay with him again. I will stay with my parents to avoid a recurrence. I advise young girls not to leave their fathers’ houses no matter the situation.
Did your uncle admit that he raped you?
My uncle admitted that he raped me when the policeman asked him. What this has taught me is not to trust anyone because that person you trust might be the same person that will end up hurting you.