The police in Borno State have arrested an inspector, Abubakar Musa, for allegedly raping two minors, aged 10 and 12.
The arrest came amidst rising cases of paedophilia and related sex and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the state.
Hadiza Saidu, the mother and aunt to the two girls allegedly raped by the police inspector, said the officer lives in the same neighbourhood with her family and was secretly having sexual intercourse with her girls. The two girls, aged 12 and 10, are cousins.
“A police officer in our neighbourhood raped my two daughters,” she said in tears.
“His name is Abubakar Musa. He used to sneak into our house when none of us was around to sexually abuse the children. According to the kids, he used to finger one of them while directly having sexual intercourse with the other one.
“We took the matter to Metro police station and his colleagues called me aside to beg me that I should let the matter die for the sake of his job.
“I asked why were they not concerned about my own kids that have been abused? I insisted that justice must be served to my daughter and her little cousin who is the daughter of my younger sister,” said Ms Saidu, a widow.
She said the accused officer has been sending emissaries to beg her not to report the matter.
“If he is not guilty, there is no way he would be begging us to save his job and sending people to beg us as well,” she said.
Lucy Yunana, the Executive Director of Women In the New Nigeria and Youth Empowerment Initiative, said her organisation was following the case.
“I got the report that a police inspector defiled two little girls from the same house,” she told PREMIUM TIMES.
“When I got to the police station, I met the accused policeman in the office of the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) who confessed that the girls attend the same school as his son and that there was a day when his son was not at home and he gave N50 to one of the girls who, in turn, hugged him in appreciation.
“Even though he was initially pleading not to be exposed, the accused policeman changed his narrative at the police station.”
The officer was on Thursday taken to the state police headquarters before he was detained at the metro divisional police headquarters.
“We are not going to let this go or swept under the carpet,” said Ms Yunana.
“Rape of minors, by reckless paedophiles has been an everyday thing here in Borno State, especially in Maiduguri. But one man raping little cousins from blood sisters is one act of irresponsibility pushed beyond the limit,” she said.
The police spokesperson in the state, Edet Okon, confirmed the case when approached by PREMIUM TIMES at the police command headquarters.
He denied the rumour of attempts to “sweep the matter under the carpet.”
“Of course the matter has been brought to our notice here at the Command Headquarters, and CP in his usual disposition directed that the accused policeman be put up for prosecution as soon as all the records of medical investigations are ready.
“The CP and indeed the Nigerian police command don’t protect errant personnel, most especially when it comes to issues of allegations bordering on sexual abuse of minors. The concerned police inspector is currently in detention and would remain there until the case is charged to court.”
The accused officer could not be reached for comment as he was in custody.
Sexual violence, particularly against underaged, has been on the rise in Maiduguri.
“An under two years old girls was last week sexually violated by the boyfriend of his mother and was left for days with a mutilated vagina that got so bad before she was taken to the hospital,” said Ms Yunana.
“The child died while being attended to at the intensive care.”
Borno Assembly to amend laws
Civil society activists have blamed the trend of rape on the weakness of the laws in place to check the crime.
The Borno State House of Assembly has now moved to amend certain sections of the state’s Penal Code dealing with SGBV.
The lawmakers on Friday called for a public hearing on Monday, on the proposed bill.
The current penal code operating in the state since 1994 does not prescribe adequate punishments for rape, they said.
Under the current penal code, offenders, especially pedophiles, are sentenced to either life or 14 to ten years imprisonment without an option of fine.
“The rape of minors by youth and aged persons who are old enough to be grandfathers have become a trend in Maiduguri and environs,” said Ms Yunana.
“There is no day that passes we don’t receive a case of rape of children – some even developed complications and died.
“In most cases, victims and their parents are muzzled from speaking out; others are forced to suffer in silence because they fear the stigma; some are being harassed by the families of the offenders because the victims are mostly financially or educationally disadvantaged,” the activist said.
Sexual and gender-based violence has been reported even in the camps of persons displaced by Boko Haram.
Hamsatu Allamin, another strong voice that speaks for the rights of abused women in Borno, said females, especially underaged girls, are being violated by both inmates of the camps, officials and security personnel.
According to her “innocent girls are forced to have sex either for the satisfaction of the males, or in exchange for ration tickets, or for a chance to be allowed to go outside the camp to fend for themselves.
“We have lost count of girls who were raped and left pregnant with no one to cater to them and their babies because they have been orphaned by the insurgency. And in many cases, camp officials and security personnel are often fingered as perpetrators.”
Ms Allamin, who is the founder and chief executive of the Allamin Foundation, lamented that offenders often go scot-free because there are no strong laws punishing them.
The proposed bill is to amend “certain provisions in the penal code law of Borno state 1994 (Amendment Bill 2020).”
It seeks to raise the punishment for rape by altering Section 283 which prescribed punishment for rape to now read under subsection (1) that “whoever commits rape shall be punished with death by hanging.”
The proposed law also criminalises gay marriage and bestiality.
It proposes to amend Section 284 (1) of the existing law to become “whoever has sexual intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal, such as sodomy, lesbianism or bestiality shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not less than 21 years imprisonment and shall also be liable to fine of not less than N200,000.
The amendment also seeks to alter Section 285 (1) to become “whoever commits an act of gross indecency upon the person of another without his or her consent or by the use of force or threats, compels a person to join him or her in the commission of such act, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than 14 years and shall also be liable to a fine of not less than N100,000 or both.”
The Deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Abdullahi Askira, called on members of the public to take advantage of the public hearing to contribute to the law “that we hope would help us bring sanity in our society and protect the rights and dignity of our women and girls.”
The proposed amendment bill 2020 also covers Sections 388, 389, 390, 274, 275, 278, 281, which cover a wide range of SGBV related offences including abduction, enticement, unlawful detention with intent to have sex, trafficking, buying and selling of minors for immoral purpose and exposing minors to abuse through hawking.