Activist Raises Concern Over Police Handling Of The Case of a Minor Raped By a Lawyer

Nigeria Police

Perceived reluctance on the part of men of the Police Force CID Headquarters, Abuja, in pursuing a lead on the investigation of Ochiagha Chuks Onyemobi, a lawyer and alleged serial rapist, has continued to baffle gender activists and concerned members of the public. Onyemobi is currently in detention at the SARs detention facility after his arrests at the Gwarimpa Police Station over what appears to be statutory rape and assault of Esther Monday, a 17 year old girl, and minor by Nigerian Law.

As gathered, the police have refused to summon a certain Annabel, a girl, believed to be far younger than Monday, and may have been an earlier victim of Onyemobi. Hauwa Shekerau, former national president of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), told Armada that going by the account of the incident, there is the need to vet all leads and witnesses in the matter. “That is only when we can ascertain if this isn’t the first time the lawyer has done this,” she said. The matter has been a subject of intense social media buzz after the matter was first broken on face Facebook by a journalist with a national daily. So far, the police have limited their investigation on Onyemobi to just complaints from Monday and her guardians.

Armada successfully tracked down the complainants, spoke to the victim and her guardian and learnt that Monday falls in the category of vulnerable young girls easily picked on by predators on account of their lack of access to authority figures who can protect them. They are also vulnerable because they come into urban centers in search of menial jobs to pay some bills and possibly repatriate some money back to their villages to help aging parents and relatives. Annabel, like Monday, hails from Kafanchan, Kaduna, but had come to Abuja after their secondary school education in search of small time jobs.

They both put up with their aunt, who herself, lives with Phillip Tordue, the husband. Until Monday was raped at the lawyer’s office after being lured to the place by Onyemobi, allegedly, she had worked for one week, coming in to fill in Annabel’s absence after she called it quits to travel back to Kaduna to see her mother. Annabel had worked for the lawyer for seven months. Rather than pay her full wages of N10, 000 per month, the lawyer had defaulted, only paying her two months salaries. Curiously, Onyemobi allegedly refused to let the girl go, insisting that unless he has a replacement, Annabel cannot leave her employment. The girl’s aunt had then sent Monday as replacement for Annabel.

On Thursday, two weeks ago, the lawyer curiously told Monday that apart from doing his chores at his home, she would also follow him to his Suit F7 Sheriff Plaza office near Bannex Plaza, Aminu Kano Crescent, Abuja, for the cleaning of the place too. Unsuspecting, the girl went along. After working and cleaning the place, Onyemobi allegedly began making overtures to her; complementing her on her beauty. As she further narrated, her boss suddenly stood up, went to the door, bolted it; headed to the windows and sealed them. Monday was initially petrified and couldn’t act.

Speaking in broken English to Armada, she stated that she made feeble attempts, out of fear, to go past Onyemobi. “The attempt made him angry. He suddenly carried me from the legs and slammed me on the ground,” she narrated. The lawyer, according to her, choked her, to cut off her scream. He then went ahead to tie her up, gagged and blindfolded her. The lawyer, as she further narrated, went ahead to strip her naked, forced her legs apart and forcefully had canal knowledge of her, she alleged. Rather than release the girl, the lawyer still kept her detained. He further seized her phone from her, and extracted the sim card. Monday remained a prisoner in his office long into the night. He then ordered the girl to go back to his Gwarimpa house warning her not to say a word. To ensure compliance, she took the girl to the road and put her in motor that drove her straight to Gwarimpa. After alighting, she boarded a commercial tricycle giving direction to the driver to take her to the lawyer’s house because she couldn’t find her way to her Guardian’s place late that night. But she took the initiative to beg the commercial tricycle driver to avail her his phone. With it, she dialed Tordue, her aunt’s phone number from memory.

Onyemobi was initially arrested but was later transferred to the Force CID. Medical reports from Federal Staff Hospital, Gwarimpa, suggests that there was sexual penetration on the girl. But as gathered, Onyemobi alleges that Monday and him have been lovers for some time, a claim the girl debunked. The matter, as pleaded by the lawyer fell flat after the police managed to coax Onyemobi into giving up the girl’s sim card which was siezed after the assault at his office. But insider sources believe that police intends to run the case as a first offender matter. “But Annabel’s testimony, if the police would search for her, may change such position,” believed Musa Simon Reef, a journalist and activist based in Abuja.