Undergraduate nursing mother claims police coerced her to deny the rape, write letter of apology to accused masquerade
A young woman in Nsukka has been made to live with the most unimaginable humiliation of her life: After she was allegedly raped by a masquerade, she was then made to apologise to her rapist, for, wait for it, wrongly accusing him. And it did not stop at that, the law enforcement agents, who should ordinarily protect this nursing mother, are also fingered in a dehumanizing plot that saw her putting the apology in writing.
To say that Opi Community in the Nsukka East Development Council Area, Enugu state, is becoming synonymous with abomination that may no longer be an over-statement. For strange events in the area since 2011 can attest to the veracity of the assertion. These abnormal occurrences have been adjudge by traditionalist to be at variance with the norms, culture and tradition of a typical Igbo community. Since the first quarter of 2011, weird happenings in Opi have compelled observers to begin to believe that there is an unseen hand dictating the pace of events in the beleaguered community split into two by the ever busy Enugu-Makurdi expressway. What immediately comes to mind is the celebrated emergence in Ogbozalla of randy youths from the pit of hell, whose stock in trade, was the serial and unhindered rape of widows and sometimes, grandmothers, with impunity. The atrocity dominated front pages of Nigerian dailies in the first and last quarters of 2011. Just as the dust of the unprecedented saga was about to settle, another monster has struck. Now, it is the alleged rape of an undergraduate nursing mother by masquerade known in local parlance as “Oriokpa”. The strange rape of 28 year-old nursing mother, Ngozi (Surname withheld by us), by Oriokpa masquerade on her way to fetch water on March 21, 2012, was further compounded by alleged police complicity.
Daily Sun found that the offending masquerade was arrested and unmasked by the police but was hurriedly released on the excuse that he had JAMB exam to take. It was also alleged that the hasty release of the masker, identified as Ifeanyi… (Surname withheld by us) was facilitated by alleged greasing of the palm of the police. Daily Sun further gathered that while the nursing mother was yet on hospital bed at the St. Joseph Hospital Opi, her drip transfusion was disrupted several times as she was allegedly forced by the police to come to make one statement and another.
The nursing mother laments that she was coerced to change her statement, to write that she was not raped days after she was compelled to write apology and her father intimidated to close the matter on the claim that doctor’s report said she was not raped, neither read the report nor see it. I was forced to write an apology by the police. When all these things were happening, no policeman came to hospital to take my statement. All the time, nurses will remove my drip on my hand for me to go to police station to answer their invitation”, the nursing mother lamented. She however said, she has forgiven the family of the masquer. “God will judge everybody according to his or her work. I have forgiven the boy because of his mother, but I just want the world to know that I was maltreated because we are poor”. A source from Idi-opi, disclosed that unlike the Ogbozalla Opi rape, where no traditional sanction was meted to the rapists, the Idi-Opi Council of Elders have slammed a sanction on the alleged masquarader’s family. According to the source, the family had been ordered to provide items for the propitiation of the gods of the land or risk ostracism.
Sun enquiry at the Divisional police station, Nsukka where the case was reported did not yield much dividend, our checks showed that “a case of assault occasioning harm by masquerade, was reported at the station by one Ugwu Ngozika and not rape”.
Contacted, Dr. Ugwu, (Surname withheld) whom Ngozika claimed carried out lab test on her said, he could not remember the woman’s (Ngozi) case. “I cannot remember the woman you are talking about. Here, we handle a lot of cases”, he stated. He however, said if given enough time, he could contact the police to find out if such a woman was even brought to him by them.
Asked if the woman was entitled to a copy of the result of lab test carried on her, Dr. Ugwu who is also, the medical officer in charge Nsukka District Hospital, said yes, but later said it was discretionary saying lab, results are secret documents. Ngozi who is the only female child of her parents bared her mind to Daily Sun in her home, Idi Opi few kilometers from Nsukka urban. Our correspondent, Kassidy Uchendu reports.
How Masquerade Raped Me:- This thing happened on March 21, 2012. There were three masquerades that day but two were spotted and people started running. I was going to fetch water and as people were running, I equally ran and hid somewhere until the two masquerades passed. As the masquerade passed, I came out to fetch water, I heard one child saying: “see another masquerade”.
I didn’t see that very masquerade and people were running and as I was running to enter into someone’s house, the Masquerade took an apian road and pushed me to the building where I was running to enter. I tried to jump blocks that were packed, but couldn’t and the masquerade caught me and started beating me What surprised me was that the Masquerade said it has been long he was looking for me and have finally caught me today. I asked the masquerade what have I done to him that he was looking for me for a long time, or could it be it was a mistaken identity, but the Masquerade said I am talking nonsense, that he has caught me.
The Masquerade threatened he was taking me to a bigger Masquerade, saying it has been long I have been insulting him. I told him I am nursing a baby and he shouted me down while caning me. I started shouting calling the three communities of Opi, but I was surprised that people did not come to my immediate rescue.
As the masquerade was still dragging me along with him, then one man tying wrapper came out. The man pleaded with the masquerade to leave me, but he refused, saying that I have insulted him for too long. The masquerade insisted on taking me to the bigger masquerade which will compel my clan to bring a cow as fine. All my pleading together with the man who came to my rescue, failed as he dragged me to a bush and I told him that is not the way to the place where to see the bigger masquerade. I have made up my mind to see the bigger masquerade to know what I have done wrong to deserve the treatment. He dragged me to enter a bad bush and I resisted with the last strength in me to avail, even as he threatened to kill me.
As we were dragging, he gave me a stud and threw me to the ground and fell on me. He held me on the neck for me not to shout. Both my eyes and nose were blocked. I am not sure he was alone when he threw me to the ground because I was unconscious. I could not have normal breathing nor see anything again, I was unconscious. I didn’t know when I was taken to the hospital, I do not know where I was and did not know anything that was going on.
When I started gaining consciousness, I did not see my pant and my bra was torn. I now said, so this masquerade raped me while I was on my own. Fear griped me that the masquerade might have transmitted HIV/AIDS to me. I am not sure of being free from it till after 6 months when I will go for HIV test to know whether I’m positive or negative. I am not sure the masquerade did not impregnant me, my conscience is not yet clear until I go for that HIV test. I will like to carry out all necessary tests on sexual transmitted diseases.
The police asked me to write apology letter and I was surprised on why I should write an apology letter, for what? Am I writing apology letter because I am not sure of myself? I took it because when he said I should not say anything, saying doctor’s report shows that I was not raped. I did not read the report nor see it. I was forced to write an apology by the police. When all these things were happening, no police came to the hospital to take my statement.
I do not know if the masquerade was arrested and questioned by the police. The next thing was that the mother of the man wearing the masquerade came begging me to forgive her son. I told his mother that I have forgiven him.
The police said that I should not be paid what my family spent in the case. The police said that the rapist’s family will only take care of the hospital bill. The police said that I am even lucky for the rapist’s family to pay hospital bill, that some people can come and report a case of rape and it will be discovered that they were not raped and nothing will be paid to them. The rapist’s family paid only the hospital bill. But I have forgiven them and resigned my fate to God.
IPO asked me to write, I was not raped:- The police invited us again to the police station claiming that the DPO was not around the day the matter was closed, that we have to come back. When I went to answer the invitation, the IPO took me to an office and told me that he earlier told me the doctor’s report showed that I was not raped. I questioned as to why the issue again, since I have closed the matter with my father. The IPO asked me to write that I was not raped. They are stronger than me. I wrote that I was not raped according to police doctor’s report.
The boy who raped me gave police one name but people who knew him said that his real name is different from what he gave the police. The name of the police officer that handled my case is “Akor” The IPO gave me a letter which he claimed came from the DPO and asked me to go and give it to the witness. I collected it and delivered it to the witness and he said that he is not going to any place as he did not go when the case was in progress, why are you inviting him after the case was closed, that he will not go. The name of the witness is Ugwunwanshi Basil.
The IPO later asked me what the witness said and I told him, and he asked me to come the next day with the man. I told him that I will not come. Up till now that I speak with you “journalist’, I have not seen the police man or heard from him again.
I dropped out from Enugu State College of Education (technical) due to lack of fund. I was a second year student when I dropped. I entered the tertiary institution in 2007/2008 session , I was supposed to graduate in 2010. I dropped in 2009 because of fund, my Reg. No. is SSE/2007/325. I would like to go back and finish up my studies if I can see money.
I appeal to both Nsukka Local Government and Enugu State Government or even Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and philanthropists to help me finish up my education at the College of Education Enugu (Technical). I am in a big psychological trauma as a result of my experience on March 21, 2012. I need counseling and help.
I want the rapist to repent and know God. I do not want him to die for raping me. I will be happier if the boy can repent and follow Christ. I can’t remember how much we claimed as damages in the matter but my first salary from the private school were I teach, was N8,000.00 and it finished just like that, but let God take all the glory.