A judge at an High Court in Maiduguri, Borno State, Alkali Gana, on Wednesday sentenced one Yahaya Umar, a middle aged man, who was found guilty of raping a 13-year-old female internally displaced person, IDP, to 14 years behind bars.
Mr. Umar, a reportedly unrepentant paedophile, ran into trouble waters on September 21, 2016 when he lured the victim, Hajja Ibrahim, from the camp to a hotel room where he forcefully had sex with her.
Her case is just one amongst hundreds of such that happen in the nearly 30 IDP camps dotting the state.
Concerned parents and officials at Abbaganaram IDP camp reported the matter to police and Mr. Umar was arrested and arraigned.
The charge sheet reads, “That you Yahaya Umar (male), on or about 21st September 2016 at about 1900 hours at railway quarters Maiduguri , within the jurisdiction of this honourable court committed rape on one Hajja Ibrahim of IDPs camp Abaganaram primary school , in that you forcefully had sexual intercourse with her and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 283 of the penal code laws of Borno State.”
Mr. Umar pleaded not guilty to the charge against him.
He told the court that he did not take the girl to the Rainbow hotel where the alleged rape occurred but only “helped a girl wandering at night by taking her to his home and giving her shelter till the next day.”
But the prosecuting counsel disagreed and invited five witnesses to testify against him. Copious evidence and exhibits were tendered.
Mr Umar was the only witness in his defence.
All the testimonies and evidence of witnesses as well as the defence were examined by the trial judge, who described Mr. Umar as a ‘predator of minors.’
In his ruling after the testimonies, the judge pronounced Mr. Umar guilty as charged.
“I believe the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses . They impressed me as witness of truth. Accused person in his defence stated that the victim wanted a place to stay hence he took her to his house and harboured her until the following day.
“You can tell this type of information to the marines. It is a matter of common knowledge that there is curfew in Maiduguri and everybody is expected to be at home before 10 p.m.
“The court is at a loss why the accused person should ‘carry’ the young girl to his house. He is not a truthful witness. I have watched his demeanor in the witness box. He did not impress me as witness of truth.
“I disbelieve his testimony.”
The judge said the court is of the opinion that the prosecution has proved its case beyond any iota of doubt.
“I find him guilty as charged and hereby proceed to convict him. Predators of minors should beware, they do not deserve any clemency. The convict has committed a heinous crime. He does not deserve any sympathy knowing the conditions the IDPs are going through.”
But the judge did not conclude his ruling without a word of caution to parents who are IDPs.
“Parents and guardians should desist from compromising or condoning any abuse against their wards. He is sentenced to maximum prison term of 14 years with hard labour,” he ruled.
The court had also called on security agents to beam their attention on activities going on in hotels and motels following the revelation of the prosecuting witness.
According to a UNICEF report, at least one underaged girl is raped everyday in most IDP camps by a fellow male IDP or officials managing their camps.
Borno and Yobe State governments recently had to refute reports exposing how rape, forced prostitution and officials engaging in seduction of underaged teenagers were rampant in the camps, without checks by the authorities.