A non-governmental organisation, Child Protection Network (CPN), has petitioned the Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Odude, over what it described as a poor way of handling an alleged sexual abuse of a seven-year old girl by a 65-year old man in Ibadan.
CPN, the umbrella body and coalition of registered NGOs and CSOs established by UNICEF as a social intervention body, under the auspices of the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community Development and Social Welfare, said that it was embarrassed by the way the DPO of Ogbere Police Division, Janet Talatu, handled the matter by releasing the suspect, identified as Adetunji.
The NGO, in a statement signed by CPN Coordinator in the state, Ebunlomo Walker, chairperson of FIDA in the state, Folake Ajayi, Kehinde Akinyemi of Child Growth Concern Initiative, A. A. Ibitara of JDPC, Oyo State, Yakub Fadare of the Nigeria Bar Association, Airat Ogungbenro of FOMWAN, I. G Yusuf of the Child Development and Concern Foundation, Ibukunoluwa Otesile of Hope for Second Chance Foundation, Chinyere Adeyemo of Chiyemo Global Impact Initiative, argued that a case of rape or sexual assault against a ‘minor’ is a serious crime under the law, hence there is a need for the police to punish the perpetrator, according to the law of the land.
The petitioners in the petition addressed to Odude titled, “Strong petition against gross professional misconduct and injustice on a child sexual abuse (CSA) offence case of a 7 year old girl by a 65 year old man ‘Mr Adetunji’ in Ibadan”, a copy which was made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday, accused the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the state police command, Adekunle Ajisebutu for what they considered as “unprofessional and least expected from a senior police officer of PPRO’s calibre who the society looks forward to as our hope for redress of societal ills and protection of the rights of children.”
CPN, in the petition copies which were also sent to the speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly, Attorney General of Oyo State, Commissioner for Women Affairs, Community Development and Social Welfare, Oyo State, UNICEF, Zone B, Lagos, National Human Rights Commission, NHRC and the chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists Oyo State Council, requested further that cases of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) reported at any police station be transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Iyaganku, Ibadan for thorough investigations and subsequent prosecution of the offenders and suspects by the police in accordance with the Penal Code and in order to ensure justice for the victims.
The petition partly reads, “Our attention was recently drawn to a case of a 7 year old girl sexually abused by a 65 year old man (One Mr. Adetunji) on or about the 7th day of December, 2018 at Ifelodun Community, Elebolo Street, Lagbele Area, Ogbere, Orita Merin ti oya, Ibadan. The crime was reported at Ogbere Police Division by the Mother of the Victim, one Mrs. Tayo Ladipo.
“According to the victim’s mother, she confirmed that the result of medical examination conducted in two different hospitals indicated that the 65 years old man, Mr. Adetunji, actually committed the offence of Sexual Assault on the said 7 year old innocent girl, “Victoria”.
“We were most embarrassed by the way the DPO at Ogbere Police Division handled the matter by releasing the perpetrator on the flimsy excuse that the man did not penetrate, hence the DPO arranged a settlement which resulted into the perpetrator paying the mother of the victim ₦12,000 to finally settle the case, thus the mother told the Police that she did not want to prosecute the matter anymore.
“We wish to point out the fact that a case of Rape or Sexual Assault against a ‘Minor’ is a serious crime under the law. See “Sections 33 and 34 of the Child Rights Laws of Oyo State, 2000” and as such, … (it) is a state case and not one that the victim’s mother can decide to withdraw. Such withdrawal will only encourage more offenders to continue their advancement in crime.
“It might interest you sir, that when our organisation reported the matter to the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Adekunle Ajisebutu, who we believe will do justice to the case and protect the interest and rights of the child. But to our dismay, the PPRO, Mr. Adekunle Ajisebutu, turned around to accuse the Child Rights Activist of “Crying more than the bereaved.”
“Our organisation is committed to protecting the rights of these vulnerable children whom by reason of their tender ages cannot defend themselves. We are of the firm opinion and believe that all hands must be on deck to eradicate this social menace.
“It is therefore based on the foregoing that we appeal to you, Sir to use your good offices in ensuring that the perpetrator of the crime, One Mr. Adetunji is arrested and arraigned before the appropriate court forthwith in the interest of justice.
“We request further that cases of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) reported at any Police Station should be transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Iyaganku, Ibadan for thorough investigations and subsequent prosecution of the offenders/ suspects by the Police in accordance with the Penal Code and in order to ensure justice for the victims. Kindly treat as urgent.”
Efforts made by PREMIUM TIMES to get the reaction of the PPRO to react to the allegations were unsuccessful as calls put to his telephone line were not answered.
But, the DPO of Ogbere Police Division, Janet Talatu while reacting, declared that contrary to the NGO’s claim, the man did not rape the girl.
Ms Talatu argued that the allegations are not true.
“What they are telling you is a lie. There was no case of rape. No case of rape. Any case of rape, I normally transfer to state CID. Because I am a mother and I have a daughter too, even when the parties said they are ready to settle out of court, I will transfer to the state CID.
“This case was reported. I think they are living in the same house, this face me I face you house. The mother of the girl was not around. She came back from school, but because of the relationship they have among themselves, one woman living in the house said, you can stay in our room. That girl slept on the bed.
“I think the man, according to the girl, removed her cloth but did not do anything. The man did not penetrate, nothing, nothing.
“So, it was after, I think ten days that the girl now told the mother that the man removed her cloth and during the process, someone came in. That was why the man could not do anything with the girl.
“Despite that, the man was arrested and I detained the man for three days. We took the girl to three hospitals, doctors confirmed that he has not defiled the girl. No case of rape, no penetration and the girl is still a virgin. And the mother now said that the landlord association chairman pleaded with her to withdraw the case. Despite that, I said when we transfer the case to state CID, you can now withdraw.
“Based on that, the woman on her own, went to court, brought a sworn affidavit – that she was not interested in the case. Based on that, the man was released on bail. There was nothing. They went to the PRO at the Eleyele headquarters, the woman said that she was not the one that invited the NGO.
“I don’t compromise. Me? I am surprised, I don’t know what they are looking for. I was surprised that they went on air. I am surprised that they went to meet the PRO. After they interviewed the parties, they still went to write petition again”.