Sexual assaults in the house of God
A recent report emanating from the Lagos State government revealed that over 700 rape, sexual abuse, assault and defilement cases are pending across courts in Lagos State. Of this figure, 80 per cent were abused in their infant stage. The report also revealed that the majority of these cases were perpetrated by people in trust positions, with families and religious leaders occupying polar positions.
With cases and news assaulting the public sensibility almost on a daily basis, from newspaper headlines in recent times, this might not be an outlandish claim. Lagos Police PRO, Ms Dolapo Badmos may have put it succinctly, when she said: “The concern that the command is having at the moment is of people, who claim to be religious leaders. They hide under the fact that they are religious leaders to perpetrate domestic violence in the state.”
To underline its concern, the Lagos State Government, led by no other person than the number one citizen of the state, Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode, recently led an ‘All Male Walk’ campaign to sensitise the public on the need to tackle the unwholesome trend in the society.
But why religious leaders? Are the cases really on the increase?
Reported cases involving pastors
One example is of 31-year-old pastor Olabode Sunday, who allegedly raped a job seeker on a church altar during vigil, only to tell her that by the act, her prayers had been answered by God.
The incident which happened in Ilorin, Kwara State, shocked residents of Tanke area, where the church is located. The victim, Funke (other names withheld), 25, who had just concluded her National youth’s service went to the pastor for prayers to pave the way for her to get a job, but midway into the vigil, the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) pastor allegedly forced himself on the hapless girl and raped her.
Sunday, who was remorseful afterwards, blamed the devil for his action. His outraged church members said the incident was unfortunate, saying by choosing the altar of all places to perpetrate his satanic act, he had dented the image of the church.
In Edo State, another pastor, of the Pentecostal sect, allegedly raped a 12-year-old choir member of his church at Afuda-Uromi, Esan North East Local Government Area.
The little girl (name withheld) had gone to church for choir rehearsals, but while awaiting other choir members, the pastor, who is also founder of the church, called her into his office and carried her on his laps. Thereafter, she said, he began to suck her breast and dip his finger into her private part before raping her. The incident caused her to bleed from her private part, as a result of injuries sustained. But when accosted, the pastor told her father that he was only carrying out deliverance on the victim.
In Ibadan, Pastor Isaiah Ojo, founder Dayspring Family Chapel, Egbeda area, Ibadan, allegedly took a seven-year-old daughter of his friend and fellow pastor, Bidemi (not real name), laid her on the church altar, and proceeded to have carnal knowledge of her.
According to the report published by a national newspaper (not The Nation), the incident took place on Monday, May 9, 2016, but the little girl bled for almost a week, as she was said to still be bleeding by the 13th day of that month.
In a bizarre attempt to defend himself, the pastor said “On Monday May 9, I was in my church premises when she came with her brother. The girl went to lie on the rug on the altar and told her brother that her private part was itching, asking him to come and lay on her. They used to play on the rug before then.
“I went near them to ask what was wrong with her. I had to use my hand to help her scratch her private part. After that, the girl said: “Daddy Dayspring, come and lay on me also. When I moved nearer, I could not do anything with her; I did not insert my penis in her vagina.
“What happened next was that I brought my penis out but I could not penetrate her because her vagina was tight. My intention was to touch her, not to damage her. When I saw that her vagina was very tight, I withdrew my penis and left. There was no blood at that time. I don’t know how blood came out of her.”
In Akwa Ibom State, a 60-year-old pastor, who doubled as a traditional healer, Udo Job was arrested for raping a 14-year-old daughter of one of his patients.
The girl had gone to visit her sick father in Job’s care, when he lured her into his inner chamber and forcibly defiled her, after sending her mother to the market.
In Awka, Anambra State, yet another pastor, of a Pentecostal church, Jesus Miracle Ministries, is on the run after he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old boy, allegedly.
According to a source, the pastor, who is said to be gay, was told by a native doctor that he would be cured of his homosexuality, if he slept with a male teen.
Narrating his ordeal, the victim (Abuchi) said the incident took place after a vigil service. The boy who hails from Ebonyi State said, “The pastor approached me after the vigil and asked me to stay back. I told the pastor that I wanted to go home since the church activities had ended but he said I must wait till dawn.
“When I insisted, he rubbed a substance on my eyes which made me sleep. When I woke up, I noticed that my trousers were torn, and my anus was damp. I began to cry, as I was feeling pains in my anus. The pastor said I should stop crying, that he would give me money. I rejected the money offer and went home and told my people what happened,” he said.
In Anambra State, another pastor was nabbed for raping a 13-year-old girl during the church’s night vigil.
The pastor, with a new generation Pentecostal church, was identified as Nzube Ohuama. The young victim had gone with her parents to the church for the monthly vigil, when the pastor lured her into a private room attached to the church and raped her.
It was also reported that Ohuama had earlier prophesied to the girl’s parents three days before the incident that she was being tormented by an evil spirit, hence the need for a special deliverance prayer.
Muslim Clerics not left out
40-year-old Islamic cleric, Abdullah Omobolaji reportedly took advantage of a teenager, Idowu (not real name), having sex with her several times between November 2014 and March 2015, when the act was discovered by the girl’s mother.
The cleric, who has since been arrested, was said to have raped her in his consultation house on Bakare Lane, Agege.
According to a newspaper report, the cleric lived in Abule Egba, but had a room apartment on Bakare Lane, where he received clients for spiritual help.
Report said that Omobolaji also beat the girl’s mother up, when she confronted him.
Speaking of her ordeal to the Punch, the victim said she could not muster the courage to tell anyone about her experience because Alfa had threatened that she would die if she did.
According to the victim, “It started in November, 2014 when Alfa Abdullahi called me and said I should always come to meet him if I needed anything, since my dad was dead and my mum was unable to cater for all my needs.