For the family of Favour Okechukwu, the 11-year-old girl who was raped and murdered at Ejigbo area of Lagos, losing a young and promising child to rapists is a bitter experience that the family cannot recover from.
John Okechukwu, the saddened father, told PREMIUM TIMES how the incident claimed their first child and all her future hopes shattered.
“I saw the corpse of my daughter, they stripped her, blood everywhere,” Mr Okechukwu said with heavy eyes.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how the young girl was raped to death at No 4, Olanrewaju Street, Ejigbo Lagos by yet-to-be-identified men. She was allegedly raped by four men.
Mr Okechukwu, an indigene of Abia State and a businessman in Lagos, narrated the incident to PREMIUM TIMES.
“When I got home on that Wednesday, my wife told me that she sent Favour on an errand and she is yet to return. I got home by 6 pm and she had sent her on an errand since 3 pm. I was really worried,” the father said.
Mr Okechukwu said he immediately instructed his wife to check her at a trader’s shop down the street and her friends’ houses in the neighbourhood, but none of them saw her.
“Some of the parents of her classmates joined us in searching for her, and by past 8 pm, we returned to this place. I didn’t know what to do, my wife told me that we should hope on God maybe she would come back home and any hand holding her will release her.
“But for me, I was not satisfied. I gave her the key and turned back to continue to search for her. It was like somebody or a force was just carrying me to just be going to that direction, I was just going,” the worried father said.
Without any knowledge of where he was going or how he would see his missing daughter, Mr Okechukwu said he trekked minutes away from the street they live before he saw a neighbor who told him a bad incident happened at streets away.
“Getting to that junction, I met someone that I know and is living on this street. He asked where I was going and I explained that I was looking for my daughter. The guy shouted that something just happened at Olanrewaju street that made everybody start packing before the police would come,” he said.
Mr Okechukwu said the neighbour told him that a young girl was raped to death and he decided to follow him to the street.
“He showed me the house but when we got there, he said he couldn’t enter. I summoned courage and entered because the place was dark.
He added that he saw three occupants of the house discussing and he told them he was looking for his daughter and they pointed the room where the corpse of a young girl was lying.
“I saw the corpse, it was my daughter. They have stripped her, blood everywhere and she has died already, I started shouting like a mad person before a man from the compound ran after me and offered to join me to the police station because he has some information about it,” he said.
Encounter with the Police
Mr Okechukwu said on getting to the Ejigbo Police Division, some members of the house where the incident occurred were already there and speaking to an officer in Yoruba.
“We got in and they refused us when they heard that this was the man they raped his daughter. Thank God that my brother knows the DPO very well, he called her and introduced himself and she ordered us to come in,” the man said.
The enraged father said he narrated what happened to the police and corroborated with what the house occupant who followed him to the station said.
“The police invited the young man and others and the owner of the room where my daughter was found dead was lying that he doesn’t know anything about it and that they have been breaking into his room. The young man that followed us later confronted him and told him to tell the truth.
“He later told the police that he was not among the rapists but he knows them. The DPO asked for their names and he mentioned four names,” he narrated.
Alleged Rapists at large
The perpetrators of the dastardly act against the 11-year-old girl are at large, while the owner of the room her body was found and a nurse who was an accomplice in the case are in detention, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
The nurse, whose identity is unknown, was called by the rapists to help save the life of the young girl when they noticed she was about to die.
The police are ,however, working around the clock to get the culprits arrested, the father said. He added that the Inspector of Police in charge of the case and the Divisional Police Officer have been supportive on getting the offenders.
A landlord at Olanrewaju street, who preferred not to be named, said there have been similar rape cases and other unrests in the neighbourhood due to the operations of hoodlums that assemble around.
“I have heard of one or two rape cases by the same set of hoodlums and criminals. But on a general note, we experience house burgling, hoodlums harassing people in the early hours of the day or late hours of the night.
“I understand that when they came to pick the corpse, there were some fingerprints and since investigation is on, the police will get to the bottom of this. We have been made to understand that the culprits have absconded,” he said.
The landlord told PREMIUM TIMES that most of the time, the ugly incidents recorded in the neighbourhood happen around Olanrewaju street.
“That place particularly, those buildings under the high tension that’s their advantage point, that is where they hang out to do all kinds of things. During the day they are there smoking weed and others,” he said.
He said the residents’ associations are forming synergy with the police and local government to bring an end to the menace.
Nigerians have called for stiffer punishments for rape cases in Nigeria, with a rise in rape cases being recorded in many parts of the country.
The Nigerian Senate and States of House of Assemblies have been urged to enforce the Child Rights Act and enforce stricter punishments for rape offenders.
Lawmakers in Kaduna in September approved surgical castration as punishment for people convicted of raping children below age 14.