Trouble started in the home of Mrs. Grace Adebiyi (not real name) in Akowonjo area of Lagos when she noticed a strange discharge from the private part of her eight-year-old daughter, as she slept on the night of Sunday April 12, 2015, Punch reports.
“I would not have been worried if not because that I had noticed she was walking awkwardly when we were going to church earlier in the day. But when I asked what was wrong with her, she said nothing,” the woman said.
But that night, as Comfort (not real name) slept, her mother decided to investigate what was wrong.
“It was then I noticed my daughter’s private part was chafed. I was worried, what could have happened to her?”Adebiyi said.
The worried mother roused her daughter and asked her what had been happening to her but the girl told her nothing happened.
Adebiyi said, “I told her to go back to sleep but my mind was not at rest. The following morning. I asked her again if anybody had been fingering her and if that was what caused the way she was chafed and could not walk properly. She told me nothing of such happened.
“I then threatened to take her to the police station. That was when she told me that she could only tell me if I would not beat her and if I would not confront the person who did it. When she told me, I nearly collapsed.”
The name the little girl mentioned was that of their 45-year-old tenant, Victor Aneke.
Before the incident, Mrs. Adebiyi and the Anekes, who had been living in the house since 1999, had been having running battle over unpaid rent.
Victor actually admitted to our correspondent that he owed at least N200,000 in rent backlog.
Also, Mrs. Adebiyi said when she noticed that her daughter was too frequent in her tenant’s apartment, she warned her to stop going there.
“But I was not worried about sexual abuse because I knew the man’s wife was around,” she said.
The house is a kind commonly called ‘face-me-I-face-you’ in Lagos. One of the apartments in the building is used by Mrs. Adebiyi and her children. Her husband has been away on a long trip for many months.
The woman said she did not know what to do, as she was afraid of confronting her tenant about such an allegation all alone.
She notified child rights activists. When a test was conducted on the girl, a doctor at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Ikeja said that the girl had been raped a number of times.
Our correspondent, with child rights activist, Esther Ogwu, in tow, later paid the Anekes a visit in the course of the week.
After a warm welcome, Victor and his wife launched into a narration about how their landlady had been making their lives unbearable over their outstanding rent.
Victor said he only loves children and thus allowed Comfort to sleep and watch cartoons in his apartment.
Asked why he would allow the child stay in his apartment for extended periods of time even though he was not in good terms with the girl’s mother, Victor said other children also come to his apartment to play.
Victor said, “The woman always quarrels with me because she wants me out of her house but her husband is a friend and he told her to leave me alone.
“Telling her daughter to accuse me of molesting her was her latest ploy to send me out of this house. I have never touched the girl because she is like a daughter to me.”
While Victor spoke, his fuming wife, Joy, pleaded to have a say during the interview. The woman was angry that her husband could be accused of such “dirty crime”.
“How can she ask her daughter to lie against my husband just because she want us out of this house?” she said. “Let me tell you the truth, since my husband had an accident in March 2013, he has not had an erection.”
Her husband nodded as she made the revelation.
However, later, when our correspondent went out and was alone with Victor, he said “I will treat you well if this report could be written to show how innocent I am.”
Ogwu said the defence Joy put up for her husband was not tenable.
“She probably knows that her husband did it but and would rather protect him against the law.
“We may not be a law court that would judge him, but we will pursue this case to as far as needed to prove that the victim was not lying. We have interviewed her and we have no doubt that she is telling the truth.”
The case has been reported at the Ipaja Police Division. Victor who was initially arrested was released on bail on medical grounds.
The police spokesperson, Mr. Kenneth Nwosu has said that investigation is still ongoing in the case and the suspect would be charged to court as soon as findings are complete.