Controversy as ex-assistant director is arraigned for allegedly molesting children

Mr Mbilitem docked at grade1 court Karshi.
Mr Mbilitem docked at grade1 court Karshi.

Rape is the alleged offence for which he was being driven to court. But Amdie Mbilitem kept shouting bei”Wakoshente Wakasanta!” Amdie Mbilitem shouted as he was being taken in an SUV to the Karshi Grade 1 court in Abuja. That was probably an incantation.

Neighbours said Mr Mbilitem was a ‘ritualist’ who lured underage girls to his house with money and then rape or sexually abuse them, usually by penetrating with his finger.

They said the 67-year-old had been committing rape of minors for more than three years until he ran out of luck on June 27 when one of his victims, a 12-year-old Primary three girl, spoke out.

The case was first reported at the Jikwoyi Police division in Abuja. A medical test was conducted and the test result, which formed the bulk of evidence in court, confirmed Ms Blessing was raped.

Concerned about the development, the girl’s guardian, Victoria Ifan, and neighbours, with the help of Initiative for Girls, an organisation promoting girl-child education, pressured the police to press charges alleging rape.

On Thursday, they all gathered at the Jikwoyi Police station for the first hearing of the case scheduled to commence by 9 am at Karshi Grade 1 court.

The man kept repeating the incantation-sounding “Wakoshanta Ojanta” and kept screaming until the vehicle conveying him arrived the court.

The judge would later deny a bail application by S.M Essienekak, Mr Mbilitem’s lawyer. He ordered him remanded in custody until the next hearing slated for August 27.

Allegation and Mbilitem’s Defence

“He warned me if I ever tell anybody, he would deal with me,” the victim told PREMIUM TIMES.

“It started in the beginning of third term. When I come to his house, he will take me to his room, then remove my cloth and start putting his finger inside my private part. It’s always painful but when he finishes, he will give me N200 sometimes N250.

“This has been happening for sometime and I did not tell anybody until I was caught going by some women in our neighborhood,” she said.

Her guardian, Mrs Ifan, a business woman in Kurudu, reported the matter to the police after some women reported seeing the victim entering the man’s house.

“They said Blessing confessed that she visits the man’s house during school hours to collect money after which the man would take her to another room to insert his finger inside her and that the other girl said it was her first time.

“Meanwhile, Mr Mbilitem came to my house earlier to say my daughter came to his house to see his son, David. This man never came to my house before.

“It was my first time of hearing this whole story. So when my husband came back, we asked her (Blessing) more than 20 times and she rephrased exactly what the women said. Anybody that asked her, she will repeat the same confession, she did not ‘change mouth’ (recant). She said it’s not what somebody told her to say.

“I felt it’s no longer something I can keep quiet about so I reported to the police.”

Mr Mbilitem is a retired Assistant Director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He lives in Kurudu with only his two sons. Neighbours also accuse him of using his sons to lure girls to his house.

He denied the allegations.”This is just an orchestrated plot by my neighbours to frame me up,” Mr Mbilitem told PREMIUM TIMES.

“We have land issues so they brought three children and coerced them to testify against me. The girl in question is an orphan I normally give money when she’s going to school. I help people and my neighbours saw this as an opportunity to use this girl against me. That’s all I can say for now.”

He did not elaborate on the ‘land issues’.

Bait

Some neighbours said it was no surprise for residents of Kurudu when news of Mr Mbilitem’s alleged offences broke.

The neighborhood, situated behind LEA Primary school, Kurudu (the girl’s School) is a densely populated settlement of small houses.

Mr Mbilitem’s house, a one-storey building, is at the far end.

In the morning of June 27, Ngozi Mmadu, the first witness said she saw two girls and a boy, including Blessing, heading to the man’s house.

“We see school girls pass through this path to visit this man’s house during school hours. We have witnessed several cases and stories of girls molested by him over the years. That morning, we decided to follow Blessing and her friends.

“When they got to the man’s gate, the boy left. Blessing and the other girl tried to enter, that was when we confronted them.”

Mrs Mmadu said Blessing “opened up” after she was interrogated.

“She said the man would take her to a room and insert his finger inside her and give her money afterwards. We reported this to her guardians who now reported to the police.”

When PREMIUM TIMES visited over the weekend, several residents took turns to give accounts of Mr Mbilitem’s alleged affair with small schoolgirls.

Two neighbours, who identified themselves as Mr Martins and Mrs Igwilo, corroborated Mrs Mmadu’s account.

They said they witnessed the day’s event. According to Mrs Igwilo, she reported to the Nigerian Human Rights Commission, (NHRC).

“It is no longer news that school girls cross our paths to go see him (Mr Mbilitem) during school hours or break time,” Mr Eze said.

“Earlier this year, I was in front of my house taking snuff (tobacco) around 10.30am when the school was on break. I saw one small girl of about 13 years of age heading towards the man’s house. She told me she’s going to her brother’s house to collect money as her guardians did not give her money for food. I told her to go back to school and never return but she went back and followed another route which I sensed and also took that same route only to find Mr Mbilitem already waiting for the girl at his gate.

“The girl shivered when she saw me at her back. She told the man I was trying to stop her from going to his house. The man threatened me with a machete that if I ever block his way he would destroy me. He told me the girl only came to check on his son who was not feeling fine as they were both school mates but I already saw his son going to school earlier. He took the girl inside the house and locked the gate.”

Chukwudi, a trader, narrated how Veronica, his wife’s eight-year-old relative was ‘preyed’ upon by Mr Mbilitem three years ago.

According to Chukwudi, a boy around the neighbourhood informed his wife about what was happening between the girl and the man.

She “confessed that she and her friend visit the man’s house during school hours. She said while the man penetrates her friend, who is a bit older, he only inserts a finger inside her (Veronica). She said the man gives them money afterwards.”

Mr Chukwudi however said he does not want to push for the case or even give evidence on the matter in court ”as it has been long”.

Court Weighs In

“… The victim confessed that you had severally enticed her with money before she was caught. Medical report attest that her hymen has been tampered with through means contrary to nature,” the judge, Aliyu Kargarko, read the charge against the suspect, Thursday.

E. N Ifenesaka, Mr Mbilitem’s lawyer applied for bail but the prosecutor, Mahmud Lawal, opposed his application, saying the weight of Mr. Mbilitem’s crime “is not ordinarily bailable”.

After hearing the arguments by both parties, the judge ruled that Mr Mbilitem be remanded in custody until the next hearing scheduled for August 27.

“Our intention is to ensure that justice is done. It is not an offence that is ordinarily bailable,” Mr Ibrahim said after the hearing.

“This act of molesting little children has become rampant in our communities and we as prosecutors have a duty to see that this is checkmated.”

Abiodun Essiet, the founder of Initiative for Girls narrated how her organisation intervened.

“Our organisation was notified by the mother of the victim about the case for help and justice. When we interviewed Blessing, she narrated how the son of the man, who is a little older than her lured her to his father’s house for this act. This have been happening according to he neighbours but they are afraid of confronting the man because they claim he is diabolical.

“When we took over the case, the first thing we did was to inform our partners (Global Right International) for their support and necessary line of action. We went to the nearest police station for documentation. Our organisation bore some of the cost of the medical test with the mother of the child.

“We plan to take this case to the highest level and get justice for Blessing. We are interested in this case because it is a child abuse and the man has been doing this for more than three years. And also to protect other girls from being abused by this man.

“Finally, to teach the man a lesson and pay for tampering with Blessing’s hymen. In Africa, virginity is something we hold dearly and informs our marital decisions and choices.”

Editor’s Note: The names the defence and prosecuting lawyers were mistaken in our previous copy. The errors have been corrected.

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