The irreparable pain a mother endures from the rape of her child can only be imagined, as she fights to cope with such disdain throughout her entire lifetime. It is even worse when she had to fight for justice alone in a system and society which is just beginning to recognise gender based violence , acts against minors and disabled people as a crime
This is the story of Mrs Evangeline Iwenjiora, whose daughter, now eight years old was raped at age four by her cook, Idris Ebiloma, on August 31, 2016. The matter was reported to the Asokoro Police Station and at the time, it was like hell was let loose; she was compelled to drop the matter, but her insistence on the pursuit of justice for her daughter, and the pains her daughter went through could not let her
The defendant was first arraigned in Area Court, Gudu which had no jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter, given that Idris was charged for Gross Indecent Act, whereas she reported a case of rape. According to her, she felt everyone involved in the mater was compromised. With her doggedness, she pressed that the case be transferred to a court that has competent jurisdiction to adjudicate the case as a rape matter. Thus, the case was transferred to the FCT High Court before Justice A.O. Otaluka. She recounted that on December 6, 2016 at the FCT High Court, Lugbe, some men dressed in police uniform, claiming to have come from Inspector General of Police Monitoring Team tried to effect the release of Idris but for the intervention of the then Deputy Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, who now is the FCT Commissioner of Police because he detained Idris, who was arraigned in court the next day, being December 7, 2016, on a two-count charge and handed him to Her Lordship, Hon. Justice O. A. Otaluka. He was hereafter remanded in Kuje Correctional Center.
It was at that time that the #JusticeforKhloe was formed with its proactive measures and voices of fellow mothers and friends of Evangeline, who marched the streets of Abuja demanding justice for the little, hapless child; an action coordinated by Actresses Uche Jumbo and Tonto Dike; Hajiya Halima Suleiman Zakari, Aisha Yesufu, and many others.
Four years after the heinous act, the mother, her little daughter and all who were involved in the struggle can now heave a sigh of relief because justice seems to have been served! On Wednesday 13 May, 2020, the court, through Hon. Justice O A Otaluka, sentenced the rapist, Mr.Idris Ebiloma, to 14 years imprisonment on each of the two-count charges which shall run concurrently.
Though the judgement may not have come without a fight, but the good thing is, it eventually did – not just for the little girl and her mother, but for all the other victims of rape and to other sexual abused across the world. It also serves as a wake-up call to the women folk; who have chosen to remain mute for the avoidance of the inherent stigma attached to such heinous crimes in our society, and on the other hand, as a precedence for many awaiting trials of such cases across the length and breath of Nigeria because the court has once more demonstrated that all hope is not lost for commoners seeking such justice!
The judgement will further serve as a deterrent to other potential rapists. The long hand of the law will definitely get its hold on them irrespective of social status, tribe, religion and location.
For Befa Women and Child Care Foundation, Dorothy Njemanze Foundation and Ivyline Care Foundation and their associates, it will serve as a booster emboldening them to fight even harder to protecting the positions and the rights of women.
Mrs Iwenjiora further adds that parents should stop blaming their kids whenever they are assaulted . No child should ever pay for the mistake of an adult. The moment you shut your child up , you have shut the child’s heart and this action will have a negative impact on the child’s psyche. The best thing you can do for your child is to have the offender arrested and necessary actions carried out , fight for their right , give them the psychotherapy they need and the best of medicare that you can afford.
Stigmatization of rape victims is very common in Nigeria but wrong because the child’s innocence was stolen; no child can consent to that and pedophiles should be subjected to psychiatric evaluation and even locked up for life . I believe if there are death penalties on crimes like this I believe this will reduce or stop. Some women tend to protect their family names and pedigrees by not reporting the case to the appropriate authorities. I advise such women against that because as they inadvertently condone and encourage such rapists, thereby making themselves accomplices, which in itself is a crime.
Your children are priceless and more invaluable than the family pedigrees you proudly fight to protect ahead of your own child’s vulnerability; treat and handle them as such!