An auto spare parts dealer, Martins Ukemezie, has been arrested by the police for allegedly raping a 13-year-old hawker in his shop at Iyanu bus stop, Meiran, Lagos State.
The victim, a primary six pupil, had reportedly sold N50 groundnuts to Ukemezie last Monday and was about to collect the money when the suspect allegedly dragged her into his shop and raped her.
Saturday PUNCH learned that the teenager, who lives with her grandmother in the neighborhood, went hawking that day around 4pm after she returned from school to raise part of her N5,000 school fees balance.
She was said to have returned home crying and narrated the incident to her aunt who made a report at the police station.
The aunt, Blessing, said the family had been enduring difficult times lately which forced her and the girl to engage in hawking in order to sustain the family.
She said the victim’s mother died after delivery and was living with her father in Abuja until last year when she relocated to Lagos after the father lost his job.
Blessing said, “We lost my elder brother a few weeks ago and we just returned from his burial in the village in Benue State. Things are tough for the family; so we decided to hawk groundnuts to survive. The girl would sit common entrance exam soon and she is owing to the school N5,000. When she came back from the school at 4pm that day, I told her to hawk around so that I would add whatever she realizes with the N3,000 I have to pay the school fees balance. That Monday was a day to her 13th birthday.
“Around 5pm, she came back home crying. She said a man raped her. She led a neighbor and me to the man’s shop, but he had run away. His shop was open. There is another shop close to the man’s, but the shop did not open that day. We reported the case at the police station and a police officer followed us to the scene. We were there when the officer got a call that the man had reported at the station. We later knew he was married with two children. His shop is in front of his house. His family members were not at home when the incident happened.”
Blessing said her niece gave a vivid account of the incident at the police station but the man denied committing the crime, adding that he later admitted having only made an attempt to rape her.
“The man said he bought groundnuts from her two weeks ago and that she owed her N100 change. He said he slapped her to collect the money from her. When the Investigating Police Officer examined her, she discovered that her private parts were wet and there were bruises there. It was when the IPO interrogated the man privately that he said he only attempted to rape her.”
Our correspondent gathered that the girl was taken to a health center in Meiran as well as Mirabel Centre in Ikeja for tests. The report of the test conducted on the girl at the health center showed that she had lost her hymen.
Signed by one Dr. D.A. Oredunjoye, the report which was sighted by our correspondent, read in part, “The patient was examined and was found to be forcefully penetrated. There is the absence of hymen; laceration at the labia majora with purulent vaginal discharge.”
The girl, in an interview with our correspondent on Tuesday, explained how the man allegedly forced her into the shop and molested her.
She said, “The man said he wanted to buy groundnuts which I sold to him. He then asked me to come closer to collect the money. He held my hand and covered my mouth with his other hand. He dragged me inside. I struggled with him. He removed my pants and his shorts and put his penis inside my private parts. He poured something white inside my body and freed me. Nobody was around.”
A relative of the victim, who spoke on condition of anonymity, alleged that there were attempts by some policemen at the division to compromise on the case.
“Some policemen begged us to let the man go since the penetration was not much, but we insisted we want justice. We were not given the medical report of the test conducted at the Mirabel Centre,” she added.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Chike Oti, said the case had been transferred to the gender section of the police command in Ikeja for thorough investigations.
He said, “We are not adopting any report given to us. We are reopening the case. The girl had been taken to Mirabel Centre, but the gender section is now handling the case. The girl will be subjected to appropriate medical tests to seek a second opinion.”