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How Nigerians cut cost in 2017

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  • Retrenchment
  • One-way school run
  • Salary cut
  • Reduction in overhead
  • Changing of children’s schools
  • Stopping of school feeding allowance

 

 

The economic recession in the country seems far from being ebbed. Companies, like individuals, are still groaning. Despite government’s assurances that Nigeria has technically exited it, many of these establishments such as multinationals, banks, insurance firms, and media houses, have had to downsize their staff strength, while others simply sliced their workers’ salaries to remain in business. ISIOMA MADIKE, who has been tracking this trend, reports

 

 

Nigerians, just like companies are groaning, as recession continues to grip national economy in 2017. The economic crisis has, indeed, forced many businesses to continue to invent different strategies to remain afloat. While some had cut their staff strength, others have had to slash salaries. Banks, insurance firms and the media, are in this category.

Saturday Telegraph gathered that a number of banks including the “big” ones have had to lay off thousands of workers since January even as many firms operating in other sectors of the economy were said to be compiling names of those to be fired. Source at most of these companies told one of our reporters that most of those sacked cut across, especially those that have subsidiaries. First Bank of Nigeria Limited, with its contractor, Whyte Cleon, is believed to have sacked over 1,000 workers via text messages and telephone calls, not too long ago.

It was gathered that the bank has been silently laying off staff across the country. The sacking, which started in August, is yet to abate, according to sources close to the bank, as more are said to be on the verge of being sent home, which might come as their New Year gift. Some of those affected by the purge, said they were engaged by In-Sourcing Limited, located on 18, Keffi Street, Off Awolowo Way, Ikoyi, Lagos State.

Insourcing Limited, formally a subsidiary of the First Bank Group, commenced operations in Nigeria in July 2008. The company was established to provide support staff solutions, first to the bank, subsequently to the group and then to other businesses. First City Monument Bank was also believed to have sacked over 400 of its workers.

There have also been unconfirmed reports that other banks have retrenched employees, though on a small scale. There are those that resorted to cutting salaries and delay payments; sometime well into the next month, while some are still finding it difficult to even pay at all.

Construction firms are not left out as over 65,000 workers were said to have been sacked following the economic recession plaguing the nation. This followed their inability to meet up with their obligations to the workers as the recession hits the sector with over N600 billion debt, which the federal and state governments is believe to owe the sector.

President of Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI), Solomon Ogunbusola, explained that the 135 construction firms registered and operating under the association were being owed, a situation which had compelled some to lay off their staff.

Unlike what happened in First Bank Plc, and First City Monument Bank, however, a source at Heritage Bank confirmed a different strategy. It said: “Our staff have been getting half pay since March as authorised by the management of the bank. All staff across board had their salaries slashed into half; is either you take it or you resign.

The bank took the decision so as not to sack anybody and so as to stay afloat. But that didn’t work because it started sacking almost thereafter. Our problem started since the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA). The bank has been struggling to keep its books in check ever since.” Apart from Heritage, a number of other banks in the country are said to have closed many of what they described as unprofitable branches, as the situation bites harder.

It was similarly gathered that most of these banks had equally laid off hundreds of their workers. According to the information gleaned from the sector, Unity Bank Plc alone has laid off about 300 workers, while Diamond Bank Plc, Ecobank and Skye Bank Plc, had earlier in the year sacked over 3,000 members of their workforce also. It was learnt that the affected banks could no longer justify their existence as cost analysis had shown that they were spending more on salaries and overheads than the income from most of their branches.

Some of the workers of the banks, who confided in Saturday Telegraph under the condition of anonymity, said more banks might be forced to relieve more workers of their duties in the coming year if nothing serious is done to arrest the situation. An executive director in one of the banks said: “We have laid off some of our staff members but that seemed not to be enough. Many branches just exist for the sake of being there. They are not generating enough income. What they are bringing in is far less than what the bank is incurring as costs on them.

We may have to close such branches in the coming year. I know a number of other banks that are planning something similar.” The executive director did not stop there. But added: “It is an ongoing administrative thing in the banking industry. Banks will want to rationalise branches, especially in a difficult economy.

They just have to cut costs. Branch rationalisation is normal but the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has to be notified.” The sector, no doubt, has been battling a number of challenges in recent time. The un-abating financial crisis, which has led to a high rate of non-performing loans in the banking system, made many of them to nosedive in their profit earnings, especially in the preceding year.

For instance, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc,Unity Bank Plc and Diamond Bank Plc, recorded a combined decline of N17 billion in their Profits Before Tax (PBT) for the three months ended March 31, 2016, when compared with the corresponding period of 2015, according to the results of the financial institutions posted on the website of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

When compared with the PBT of N30.52 billion, N32.65 billion, N4.26 billion and N7.94 billion recorded by the banks in the first quarter of 2015, the combined PBT of the four banks dropped by N17 billion from N75.4 billion in the first quarter of last year to N58.4 billion in the same period of this year. While Ecobank’s PBT fell from N30.52 billion in the first quarter of 2015 to N20.63 billion in a similar period of this year, GTBank’s dropped from N32.65 billion to N30.68 billion. That of Unity Bank dropped from N4.26 billion to N1.05 billion, while Diamond Bank’s came down from N7.94 billion to N6.04 billion. In terms of their Profit After Tax (PAT), the four banks recorded a decline of N14 billion.

Before now, banks in the country had been posting sharp increases in profits before tax and profits after tax since 2011 after the establishment of the Asset Management of Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) in 2010 following the banking sector crisis in 2009. Aside banks, most of the oil companies operating in the country have also come under serious financial challenges due to the economic crunch, which has continued to impact on their operations and profitability. Some of them, according to investigations, are now slashing staff salaries, in some cases by 50 per cent, while others have reduced their investments in the country. One of the firms, a Lagos-based indigenous oil and gas company, announced that the 50 per cent salary slash would be for six months in the first instance. “We are obviously not happy with the development but we are discussing with the management but we do not know if they will reconsider their stand,” our source said.

The telecommunication sector is also not finding things easy as they are not left out from the gale of sacking sweeping across companies throughout the federation. MTN Nigeria, believed to be the giant in this sector, is said to have laid off some of its contract staff, particularly those that worked at the call centres. According to insider sources, many of the contract staff received their disengagement letters since the last quarter of this year. Most affected are those who worked in their branches. They were said to have had their salaries reduced from N120,000 to N40,000 a month. Recalled that MTN Group shares once slumped after the National Assembly raised allegations, in which the legislators accused the company of illegally moving almost $14 billion out of its largest market.

This, according to information from the company, was aimed at remaining buoyant in meeting its obligations. Also affected by the economic crunch is the automobile industry. Sources close to Coscharis Group said the auto giant has had to reduce its workforce by 208. Already, some of the affected employees had been paid off, in what a source in the company described as a move aimed at pruning down the staff strength to a manageable number.

The source added that those sacked were not limited to the automobile arm of the company but that it cut across virtually all its subsidiaries. “It was part of a general restructuring aimed at putting the firm on a sound financial footing,” our source added. Though, the story could not be confirmed, it is believed that factors such as redundancy, old age and poor health were considered in the exercise, just as some others were redeployed for improved performance.

Airlines have had to equally suspend operations on the heels of the ongoing economic recession sweeping through and crippling various sectors of the economy and bringing down supposedly viable and vibrant organisations in the nation. Aero Contractors was in the group.

As at the time it did the unthinkable, about 1000 of its workforce were thrown into the labour market that is already saturated by graduates and other job seekers. The airline had, before then, downsized its staff strength by 50 per cent. Although it came back to continue operations, Aero Contractors has been struggling since then.

There are indications that more airlines may close shop in the coming year, due to the biting economic recession, poor business plans, humongous debts and lack of adequate support from banks. The airline trade deficit, a source close to the airline revealed, stood at N20 billion. Also, the suspension was a consequence of series of challenges it faced in the past, a development which has negatively affected its operations, even after coming back.

The implication of the suspension of scheduled services operations, according to the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Fola Akinkuotu, extended to all staff directly and indirectly involved in providing services as they effectively proceeded on indefinite leave of absence during the period of non-services.

Barely 24 hours of Aero Contractors’ suspension of operations, another domestic carrier, First Nation Airlines, suspended its operations. Although, it was said that the airline did that to enable it to carry out the required maintenance of its aircraft, sources close to the airline, however pointed to the biting economic recession. Many saw the development as a bad omen in the industry, but, authorities of National Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA) were forced to refute the claims that the airlines in Nigeria were winding up. Other multi-nationals are still groaning as recession grips national economy.

Saturday Telegraph gathered that the food, beverage and tobacco sector of the Nigeria economy is on the verge of shutting down and that over a million jobs would be lost due to the inability of the companies to source foreign exchange to import raw materials for their operations. Already, leading companies in the sector, such as Nigerian Flour Mills, Nigerian Breweries, Guinness Plc, Nigerian Bottling Company, 7-UP Bottling Company Plc, Friesland Campina, Wamco Plc, among others, have written to labour for discussions on retrenchment of workers.

In the last three months, no fewer than 1,500 workers had been sacked in the sector as employers seek ways of coping with foreign exchange crisis. President of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association (FOBTOB), Quadri Olaleye, had called on government to intervene to save the industry.

It was learnt that over three million jobs had already been lost since the beginning of the economic recession. Olaleye was quoted to have said that employers in the sector had devised every opportunity to sack workers, noting that between 2012 and the first half of 2015, over 3,000 workers were sacked in the guise of re-engineering, restructuring, right sizing, downsizing, redundancy and re-organisation.

He said: “The current situation has reached a pathetic level, because it seems all the employers in our sector are in competition with one other on who can lay off the most workers. Every company is now calling for a downsizing of the workforce, and this time under the guise of lack of foreign exchange due to the Federal Government’s recent policy on foreign exchange.” Also, thousands of workers employed by hotels and tourism firms across the country may have also lost their jobs following the worsening foreign exchange crisis caused by the economic downturn in the nation.

With hundreds of thousands of workers in the hotel and tourism business, the hospitality sector is one of the highest employers of labour in Nigeria. But with the situation in the country, most of these jobs now hang in the balance. The scarcity of dollars has impacted negatively on the industry as foreigners continue to shy away from doing businesses in the country. Also, the exchange rate of the dollar to the naira is not favourable to importers anymore, considering the margin between the two currencies.

The body is calling on government to begin to tap solid minerals deposits to earn more revenue. It is anticipated that government can earn additional $20 billion yearly from mining, which will help to improve the nation’s dwindling external reserves. The hoteliers also want government to relax some of its monetary policies on foreign exchange management. Economic experts have pointed out that the full implementation of the Federal Government’s TSA policy as a key reason for the current wave of job losses and economic mess weighing down the nation.

The policy mandates all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to remit revenue into a single account, thereby denying banks a cheap source of funds to transact business with customers. According to available figures, the policy led to MDAs pulling out N1.2 trillion, about $60 billion from commercial banks to the CBN. Also, over 20,000 accounts were said to have been closed as the process was speedily executed. An economic expert, Anayo Nwosu, blamed President Muhammadu Buhari for the pains Nigerians are passing through at the moment. He listed certain actions of the president that added to the speedy recession of the economy. He identified the implementation of the TSA as one significant cause of the recession. Painfully, some banks had to stop funding projects halfway hence making completion impossible and resulting in bad loans.

The media, especially the print category, has also been badly hit lately as the current economic crisis has forced some newspaper houses to cut staff strength in their newsrooms across the country. Sources close to some media giants confirmed that hundreds of journalists had been shown the way out, citing rising cost of operation amidst a general economic downturn.

Nigeria’s economy slipped into recession after contracting for two consecutive quarters due to months of low crude prices. Many businesses have had to close shop or downsized as the economic situation continues. One of the media houses based in Lagos said to be among the largest employers in the industry, reportedly cut between 30 to 40 jobs not too long ago.

A management source, who confirmed the development, said that some of the staff were dismissed following a staff performance appraisal. However, many that are still struggling to survive have had to resort to slashing salaries or owing for an upward of about three months. “It’s true that they were dismissed, but not entirely because of the economic situation,” the official said, adding, “We look at staff productivity like every year and those who didn’t meet up were many this year.” Staff members in Abuja, Lagos and elsewhere were affected by the exercise, which another source said was the broadest for the company since inception. The cut was deeper in others, where about 70 per cent were either converted to freelance or permission to leave for a period of time.

A reporter, who was among those converted to freelance, said the development marked the toughest time in his career. “There are many of my colleagues in other papers who have nothing to be hopeful for,” the reporter said. “So don’t assume I am being timid when I said mine is better than most.”

An editor in one of the affected papers said the changes had taken “a terrible effect on production.” “I am an editor, but the sacking made it difficult for me to make specific and timely demands from reporters. I can’t ask them to go to places and do stories within the deadline,” he added. The strategies to beat off the raging economic recession in the country is not a preserve of companies alone as individuals are also inventing different tactics to survive. This is most noticeable in schools. Before now, many parents would easily not be willing to enrol their children in public schools because of what they see as the dwindling fortunes of government schools.

They would tell a story of how the degeneration had defeated the purpose for which they were established and how many became eyesores. The loss in the public schools became, as it were, gains for private schools that sprang up under different names and standards. But, with the economic meltdown in the country, parents who could no longer cope with the high cost of these institutions are withdrawing their children back to the once rejected government schools.

The harsh economic realities of today, occasioned by the biting recession, seemed to have reconfigured the educational equation across the nation. To beat this challenge, parents are withdrawing their kids from private secondary, primary and nursery schools. They complained that they could no longer cope due to the fact that their take home pays can no longer take them home.

A support staff member of one of the new generation banks with head office along Ajose Adeogun Street, Victoria Island, Anthony Boi, had three of his children at the prestigious Mayflower Private School, Ikenne, Ogun State. The pupils brought back home a letter from the school management as they were coming home for the long holidays.

The content was an upward review of both school and accommodation fees. “We were paying a little above N79, 000, which they now increased to approximately N118, 000 per pupil. For someone like me that have three of my kids in the school, it becomes difficult to cope.

So, I have no option than to move them to the public section, even though that was not what I wanted because of the quality. But, that is what my salary can carry as my wife has been out of job for quite a while now,” Boi said. Boi’s, however, is not an isolated case.

A middle aged woman, who identified herself simply as Chinasa, also told Saturday Telegraph that her husband had to relocate her and the children to their native Imo State when they could no longer survive with his meager income in Lagos State. Many other families have also taken their children back to their grandparents in the villages as a way of cutting back on their expenses. Bola, a JSS 2 student of Barachel Model College, Ifako off Oyemekun Street, Lagos, was also stopped from taking her schools bus to and from school. The school owners were charging each pupil N30, 000 per term for the bus services.

This, many parents said, were becoming a burden they could no longer cope with. “We had to resort to one way school run for her; dropping her off at school only in the morning on our way to work to save cost. She now only returns home with the school bus. With this we are able to save half of the money that would have been paid for such services.

That N15,000 is what we pay for her younger brother who is in Nursery 4 in another school,” said Bola’s mother, who identified herself only as Moyo. Just like Moyo, Ashikwe Chimanugor, a human resource consultant, also told Saturday Telegraph that he had stop his child from being fed at break period in his school to save cost.

Before now, his child’s school charges N15,000 per child and Chimanugor has three of his children in the school, and had been paying N45,000 for their feeding alone. He said: “We had to re-strategies to save money for their other needs. After we had taking stock of our spending on a monthly basis we came to the realisation that we may not be able to continue with such.

We also realised that we could spend far less to feed them adequately even better than what their school could provide them.” The story is virtually the same at most other private schools across the country. But, the owners of these schools are not relenting, as many of them have come up with some incentives to retain their pupils.

For instance, in Normal College, Ifako, Agege, Lagos, parents were promised a five per cent cut in the fees should they pay up before the resumption date. A senior teacher in the school, who does not want to be mentioned, told our correspondent that the strategy worked because many parents, according to him, rushed to pay because they needed to benefit from such lure.

“Quite a sizable number of parents benefited from this. You know that things are hard and many people would want anything that could cushion the effect of this recession. “It’s a motivation the owners of the college are contemplating sustaining in this hard time. We did our survey and discovered that our contemporaries lost many of their pupils to public schools. So, if we did not take such action, we would have suffered this same fate,” the teacher said.

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Investigation

DEATH, NIGHTMARES: AGONY OF RESIDENTS SACKED BY FLOOD

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Rainy seasons bring tears and sorrow to most residents across the country. Whenever it rains, flood sweeps chaos and confusion into homes. EMMANUEL IFEANYI recently took a tour of Abia South Local Government Area and returned with nightmarish tales of a people in agony who are constantly swept away by the ravaging tidal wave

 

Ugwunna Ahuruonye Nwaogu is the son of late Chief Mathew Ahuruonye Nwaogu, one of the popular landlords in Aba, the commercial nerve centre of Abia State. For years, the younger Nwaogu watched helplessly as flood ravaged his late father’s assets located on three streets; Nwaogu, Mathew and Ahuruonye streets right in the heart of Aba South Local Government Area of Abia State.

For him, these parts of Aba might soon be documented as places where humans used to occupy as the current condition of the area is gradually making them uninhabitable for humans.

Without respite, he watched as flood shook the foundation of one of his father’s houses, bringing it to the ground. “Anytime I take a tour of the four streets and remember the lives and properties lost to flood, tears of sorrow fill my eyes, and my heart becomes heavy,” he noted.

Several landlords and tenants within the vicinity have made countless efforts for over three decades to draw the attention of government to their plight but the efforts have been fruitless.

Ugwunna said that many had died while hoping that the government would come to their rescue while others simply gave up and relocated from the communities.

Residents, who bravely stayed behind, managing to live and cope with the perennial flood, told Saturday Telegraph that they were sure of another flood-induced disaster as they look forward to the June and July rains with trepidation.

The residents alleged that their representatives in government never visited the area to ascertain the level of damage from flood. They point to uncompleted and improperly channelled government drainage systems as the major cause of the flooding and the residents are embittered that the same government, which over the years, wrongly channelled rain waters into their homes, left them to suffer without any aid.

They also grieved that their neighbours in Onyike, Jaja, Eastern and Eme streets, all within Abia South Local Government Area, compounded the problem by using the troubled area as deposit centre for their sewage, and other liquid wastes.

How it all started

Elder Patrick Eze is one of the oldest people in the area. He told Saturday Telegraph that what the area was suffering, was a repercussion of what the politicians in the ‘80s did. He said: “I have being residing here since 1980. I’m the landlord of 12 Ahuruonye Street.

This place was not that perfect as at then, but it was good and could have been better if not for what took place in the past. “Some years back, a certain politician from our neighbouring street supervised the blockade of government drainage because of his selfish reason.

Back then, he said that he didn’t want rain water to pass through some areas. This politician did it and since then, we have been suffering. That place is still blocked till date. He is a son of this community and his house is just over the rail.

I can still remember how he hired some thugs with palm fronts in their mouths to fight some construction company that came to make this place better then.

“They used sand meant for construction to block waterways and thereby rechannelling everything to us here. All rain water from all government drainage at Port Harcourt Road, Omuma Road, Cemetery Road and others, concentrates here.

We went to Uratta area to dig a big hole where water can enter, but at a point, when everyone was seeking for options to create water channels, they ended up directing everything to that place and soon it got filled up. Today, we are now at the receiving end of this entire politician’s inhumanity to man.”

The communities once mobilised and went to Umuahia, meeting Ike Nwosu, then military governor of the state without success, Eze explained. “The issue of sewage disposal on streets is new to me, but I’m seeing it at this my old age,” the old man said, adding: “Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) only comes here to collect money. They don’t come during the rains.

They come when they noticed that the younger ones in the community had gone to their various businesses. This was usually around 10am to 1am.” Eze said that these environmental officials will come and paste the amount of money each building was supposed to pay for environmental sanitation. “They apply that strategy to avoid confrontation.

When you fail to pay, they will use police to whisk you away. Most people have been killed in their sleep by rainfall water that comes from different places. Many have abandoned their property just to stay alive. Let the government help us while we are still alive, not when we are dead.”

High casualty figures

The landlord of 2, Nwaogu Street, Elder Charles Ahaneku, said that many persons had died as a result of the flood. He added: “I have been here since 1982. You may not have been told the truth but I must let you know that many children, whose parents have run away from here, were killed and carried away by this same flood we are facing today.

My fellow landlord in a building close to mine was killed by this flood in the year 2000. He had stayed back when his family left, to safeguard his property.

The rain got too much that he climbed on top of one thing he constructed in his house. His dead body was later discovered in the morning. The rains started at night. Any drop of rain sends fear into our hearts.”

The Pastor of Garden of Life Ministries, Chisom Oriaku, who lives at 5, Ahuruonye Street, said that all he still had left in the whole world was his wife and two children. He disclosed that the flood had taken every other thing away from him.

“I have suffered a lot here. The environmental condition of this place has been very detrimental to my church. In June 2010, the downpour we experienced one night made us to realise that we were leaving in Bar-Beach.

“All buildings were submerged, children died, people lost their properties and I in particular lost everything I had, including my credentials. It was by God’s grace that my wife, children and I, managed to escape with our lives.

I have made efforts to bring this to appropriate authorities through some local media here. But all to no avail. To make matters worse, the government drainage at Uratta Road was channelled to nowhere and whenever it rains, the water finds its way to this place. We’re residing in-between three to four government drainage that was channelled to nowhere.

This thing has remained like this for years now,” Oriaku lamented. He, however, said that whenever agencies that send relieve materials bring them, some politicians will hijack them and share to their friends who were not even affected as gift. Mrs. Ogechi Azunobi, another resident at 28, Railway Avenue, cannot forget the experience she had eight years ago.

She said: “Rain has become a curse to us. June 2010 is one period none of us want to see again. We were all sacked by a downpour by 2am. People were rescued from the roofs of their houses. My mother-in-law nearly died. Our suffering here is beyond explanation.

Our children experienced all kinds of diseases. One of my children contracted one ailment which they said he got from worms in this dirty water that affected his leg for years.”

At present, Ugwunna remains a sad man. He appears helpless and confused. “I was born here. I am a son of this land. What is happening here baffles me. I am deeply hurt by this situation as all the tenants my father left here are now either dead or worthless due to man-made environmental problem. I am not a happy man as all my father’s assets are been destroyed.

“Many persons, especially children have died here. My father’s house has collapsed because of the flood we are talking about today. If you go to Nwaogu Street, you will see that many property owners have abandoned their properties for safety.

We are trying our best to remain safe, but the pains of the past in still fresh, and the future looks bleak. Mrs. Peace Okwara, a resident of 13, Ahuruonye Street, also recounted her experiences. She said: “I was born here and I can tell you that during our childhood days, we do play freely from Ahuruonye, Nwaogu, Matthew and Railway Avenue.

I still remember that when my father was alive, he used to enter here with his car freely. But not anymore! Children cannot play here any longer because the whole streets are gone.

Many had died; I ‘m only lucky to be alive today. When it rains, we allow our children to remain safe in their schools because any attempt to bring them home will be disastrous. We are in a deep mess.”

The hazardous nature of the environment

Chukwuemeka Daniels, the caretaker of number 6, Mathew Avenue, said some well-connected landlords in the neighbouring streets are blocking all their moves to bring government’s attention to the dangerous unhealthy activities in their area. “What we are seeing here is terrible. Our eyes have been seeing our ears for many years.

We have shouted, cried and wept to the point we have now lost our voices. It seems all relevant ears are permanently deaf against us. When I went to health office at Aba South to make our usual frequent reports concerning our condition, I was categorically told that some landlords from three streets: Jaja, Onyike and Emeh are bribing people in top places to ignore our cries.

They know they are guilty of indiscriminate sewage disposal and are likely to face the law. “They release faeces down here. In my view, I believe that the silence of our government representatives is as a result of blockade of information by some persons in high places. At Emeh, Jaja and Onyike, whenever their septic tank is filled up, they bring pumping machine formerly at night to avoid been seen.

That was then. Now they leave it to litter our environment. They have created illegal drainage through which they dispose their sewage down to us.” The area, according to Oriaku, seems to have been mapped out for disaster by government and wicked neighbours who have no human feelings. “This place is now Government Reserved Area for disaster.

Our neighbours have taken advantage of that to make life miserable for us. People now catch very big cat fishes in some of these waterlogged portions of our streets.

Come back here by November and see how people catch fish in a place where there is no single stream. The owner of the fish pond and other persons there created an artificial drainage to move her waste here.”

Residents lament helplessness

Elder Benet Nwankwo said they feel helpless as they don’t have the financial capacity to fight those poisoning their environment. “ASEPA officials do come here but they don’t care about us.

We have had several meetings with them, begged thelandlords that do channel their sewage here; we warned them but they seem to know how to get off the hook.

We sued the woman that has fish pond at Eme who helps in messing up this place but we got no judgment because we don’t have the financial capacity to continue with it.

Here in Abia, if you don’t know anybody in power, you are just in the middle of the ocean. We are like people shedding tears under the rain but no one notices our cry yet we will keep crying,” he said.

Security challenges

The environment has become a den of robbers and centre for all kinds of illegal substances, especially cannabis. There had been many cases of abuse of women and young girls in the area by hoodlums who have taken advantage of the terrible road to perpetrate crimes against humanity including rape, assault and robbery.

A source in the area showed our reporter an abandoned building where he said eight hoodlums in the area gang-raped a young girl who crawled out of the building in pains before people sighted her.

The residents say the crimes are closely linked to the fact that they have realised that the area has been abandoned. “Cases of rape and robbery are on the rise, with many residents having lost their phones and other items at night there. Criminals now know we are abandoned persons and have no one to defend us so they’ve turned our area into their safe haven.

We have reported to the Aba Area Command and we were told to put everything in writing which is under process already.” According to the residents, most of the young girls in the area find it difficult to speak for fear of victimisation. On condition of anonymity, one told our reporter that most of her friends have been taken away by their parents to avoid any abuse of their womanhood.

Allege silence of concerned government officials

Pastor Oriaku says there seems to be a conspiracy of silence among government officials in charge of that constituency. “As I speak to you, no councillor, I mean ordinary ward councillor including our own, has ever visited to know what is happening here. Our Senator for Abia South Senatorial District doesn’t remember us.

The member representing Aba North and South Federal Constituency in the House of Reps promised to attend to the matter but up to three years now, he has not even visited us. Aba South chairman has never visited us.

Our own House of Assembly member who lives not far from us here has never visited to know what is happening here. No single rep of NEMA has entered here. All we hear is that they have sent relief materials. How can those we have never seen their presence here send relief materials to us? Oriaku wondered.

Efforts by residents to help their situation

On the day of the cleanup exercise, one of the most pathetic and touching sights in the whole exercise was to see 75-years-old Elder Agina from Nnewi in Anambra State, clearing a heap of rubbish brought in front of his house by storm water. Speaking, Elder Agina said: “I can’t help it. As far as government has forgotten us, I can’t, because of my age, allow this place to be like this.

I will try my best until I am unable to do so. I am not happy about it but it is a necessity. Nobody is close to me here, my children aren’t here. The only one here is busy with the youth there. I can’t leave it all for them.

After this work now, I will go for treatment. I have to clear here because the odour is unbearable I can’t stand it any longer. I am suffering. The situation here caused a problem in my leg but if I leave it unattended to, I would die.”

Experts vow action as indiscriminate sewage disposal poses serious health implications

Speaking on the health implications of indiscriminate sewage disposal and possible punishment for offenders, Mrs. Onyinyechi Nwaigwe, Director of Environmental Health in Aba South Local Government, said the current situation of residents of Ahuruonye, Nwaogu and Mathew as it relates to indiscriminate sewage disposal is very pathetic.

“The health implications of such acts are very dangerous. It can actually cause epidemics like; diarrhea, cholera and typhoid fever and so many others communicable diseases.

When they discharge those things, flies can perch on them thereby dropping the bacteria on people’s food. Rodents can also carry such bacteria to people’s homes because they like filthy environment.

Right now there are cases of Lassa fever everywhere and we know the role rodents play in spreading it. Mosquitoes also breed in such environment thereby spreading malaria.

The odour nuisance alone is enough to scare people away from coming to such a place. From reports there, it is obvious that everybody is sick today as a result of our filthy environment. This situation is affecting their family economic base because; they spend more in hospital than necessary,” she said.

On the possible punishments for those responsible, Nwaigwe said: “When I got a report concerning the discharge of waste water to public domain, wrong channelling of sewage and environmental pollution from the area you talked about, I sent my workers there to verify the report and they came with the confirmation that such is the reality of things there.

Based on that, I sent an invitation letter to the 19 premises involved in the act to come for a meeting in my office. At the end, only six of them came in respect to my invitation.

I have directed my workers to serve all those involved in that structural and environmental nuisance going on in that area a notice to stop such using our own time frame of operation.

Constructing sewage channels soak away and sewage pits indiscriminately is nothing but structural nuisance. Our time frame is 30 days. At the expiration of that, we will go back there to check things and if there are no changes, we will take the necessary step which obviously is to prosecute them. Also reacting on the indiscriminate sewage disposal, Prince Ndu Nwanke, the chief of staff to the Deputy General Manager of Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA), Mr. Rowland Nwakamma, condemned the act while assuring the people of action soon. On the abandoned and blocked drainage, Abia State Commissioner for Works, Mr. Eziuche Ubani, when contacted, said he is not aware of the situation.

“Why is that place an issue? We have a plan of work. We are working on Port Harcourt Road right now and until we finish it then we cannot do anything about your so-called Uratta Road and all those streets been talked about because these are the areas that will carry storm water to the drainage there.

We cannot work in some places right now until we are through with Port Harcourt Road and what we are doing on the Umu- Agbai axis of that Port Harcourt Road. People might go to places like Ngwa Road and conclude that government is not working there.

Yes, we agree that we are not doing anything in Ngwa Road and the reason is because we want to do a tunnel at the middle of that road. We don’t want a situation where we will work on a road and return to work on it again.”

Area Commander denies receiving any complaints from the area

Area Commander in charge of Aba, ACP Peter Okpara, told our reporter that he had not received any formal complaints about the security challenges being faced by the residents. “I will be failing in my duty if such reports came to me and I refused to act. Most of the people here, once they come and make a verbal complaint that’s the end of it and you will never see them again.

How it is done is that, when they bring up such issues, I can ask them to liaise with the anti-robbery section and provide information to the police about the area. If they said they have made a complaint, let them put it in writing and make it get to me.

I cannot ignore the complaints of fellow Nigerians. The place may not be motorable but that is not an excuse for me. I cannot say because vehicle cannot enter there then we cannot secure the area.”

Alleged offenders say they can’t help the situation

When our reporter tried to reach landlords and residents of Onyike, Jaja, Eme and Eastern Streets who are been accused of polluting their neighbouring streets of Ahuruonye, Nwaogu and Mathew, most of them refused to comment on the issue.

Few who spoke said such acts as using pumping machine to dispose sewage in the streets is an age-long activity while others said the hazardous activities with construction on Port Harcourt Road.

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SPOUSAL KILLINGS: Jealous Nigerian women on the rampage

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Nigeria appears to be grappling with unprecedented number of husbands being sent to their early graves by their wives. This was very rare in time past. But not anymore! It is, at present, becoming regular headline news. In this report, ISIOMA MADIKE, attempts to find answers to this new “madness”

 

In a marriage, spouses continually need each other, especially for emotional support. But not anymore! Nigerian men, it appears, are no longer feeling safe in their marriages.

They seem to be wondering what has happened to their wives. In time past, when there is domestic violence, people ordinarily assumed that it was a wife being physically abused by her husband.

That has been the stereoptye; that the oppressor or perpetrator is the male. And when female violence happens, it is said to be a reaction against male violence.

The stereotype is so strong that nobody wants to believe it could happen the other way round. Conventional wisdom also suggests that women usually kill their spouses in self defence or as a final, desperate reaction to chronic battery and the burning-bed syndrome.

This may be the reason many believe that barely a quarter of husband-killers are victims of domestic abuse and that less than half suffer from identified psychological problem.

Yet, recent incidents seem to suggest that the era for that assumption is now over. Perhaps, those were wives of the old school. These days, women rarely gave a warning before killing their companions.

Those who end their partners’ lives usually have been an under-examined, reported group. But, why are some people in nonviolent relationships kill their partners? A lot of reasons could be adduced to this. The most common, according to findings, is jealousy.

This arises when a wife thinks she is at risk of losing her partner to someone else. In most domestic violent cases that end in courts, jealous rage or morbid jealousy were often blamed for spurring the murders.

In most cases, the perpetrator lashes out with lethal violence, despite being previously non-violent.There could also be an issue of gain in which case the primary reason for the murder is to acquire some personal and tangible benefit.

The victims are killed because they had something the offender wanted, such as money or property. In these instances, there may be no prior abuse from the women’s husbands. However, the issue of jealousy appears to be stronger, in the recent cases of spousal killings. For instance, the one that happened on May 3, involved a childless lawyer, who is believed to have killed her husband because of alleged cheating.

The incident took place at Diamond Estate in Ogombo, Ajah area of Lagos State. According to a statement by the state Police Command Public Relations Officer, Chike Oti, a Superintendent of Police (SP), the 47-year-old lawyer, Udeme Otike, stabbed and ripped her husband, Odibe’s stomach open, exposed his intestine and then severed his genital and placed it in his right hand. The couple, both lawyers, got married three years ago after the deceased divorced his first wife.

The first marriage produced a daughter currently schooling in the UK. Unfortunately, the marriage of the lawyers did not produce any child. Apart from jealousy, gain was also a possibility, the police said. According to what Saturday Telegraph gathered, trouble started when the accused allegedly demanded that the deceased willed all his properties to her.

This position was said to have been rejected because the man argued that his daughter must have a share of his properties. Before the Lagos incident, another had happened in Abuja, the nation’s seat of government. It involved one Maryam Sanda, who allegedly stabbed her husband, Bilyaminu Bello, to death on November 20, 2017.

According to reports, Maryam allegedly killed her husband by stabbing him several times. Other online reports also said she allegedly attacked her husband based on allegations of infidelity after seeing a text message on his phone.

She equally reportedly stabbed him many times on his manhood. After stabbing him, she allegedly drove him to the hospital for treatment but he did not survive the attack. According to reports, it was not the first time Maryam would attack Bello violently. She was said to have once bitten part of his ear off during an argument.

Bello was treated at a hospital before returning home. Some reports said he was advised to leave the house but he refused, only to be brutally attacked the second time.

On August 21, 2016, another woman killed her husband after picking call from a ‘girlfriend’. The woman, Fola-shade Idoko, an auxiliary nurse, was arrested for stabbing her husband to death after he ‘dared’ to receive a phone call from a girl suspected to be his lover.

Their marriage was four-year-old at the time. The man identified simply as Lawrence was killed at their home in Ayetoro, Oto-Awori, also in Lagos.

The couple had two kids together. Also in Benue, another chopped off her husband’s penis over alleged infidelity on September 17, 2012. The 42-year-old, John Ajene, who resides in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State, had his penis chopped off by his infuriated wife, Roseline. It was gathered from the eyewitness that Roseline carried out the dastardly act while her husband was deep asleep.

The woman, who resides with her husband on Ojira Street, Otukpo, had few weeks before the incident accused him of having extra-marital affair with a young lady, who lives on Sabon Gari area of the same town.

He was said to have been visibly enraged by the wife’s unfounded accusation that he had to beat her up mercilessly forcing residents in the neighbourhood to intervene in the ensuing skirmish.

However, when all seemed to have calmed down and the couple had gone to bed, the enraged wife picked up her kitchen knife and cut off her husband’s manhood while he was deep asleep.

“The scream of the man woke his neigbours, who rushed to his house only to discover his penis on the floor while he bled profusely,” the police said. Professor of Islamic Eschatology, Ishaq Akintola, has, however, given two reasons why this monster has somewhat become the fad at present. First, Akintola identified infidelity.

He noted that some women can be violently jealous. “Most men are naturally polygamous. Besides, women, outnumber men by a very wide margin. Yet 99 per cent of them are reluctant to share their men with any other women.

It arouses the bestiality in some women once they suspect that hubby is seeing another woman. Men naturally want other women and they are ready to do so secretly and illegally. Islam recommends the recognition of the institution of polygamy to avoid such confusion.

“What the Glorious Qur’an decrees in Chapter 4 verse 3 is that men can marry as many as four wives so long as they can maintain them physically and emotionally. But some men ignore the conditionality.

They marry more than one without the material and physical capacity. It often ends in disaster as women in such marriages fail to get emotional or material satisfaction.

“Quest for materialism is another reason. Some women are after their husband’s property. They woo the husbands to bequest their wealth to them only to kill them afterwards.”

His Christian counterpart, Bishop Stephen Ogedengbe, founder and Head of Evangelical Ministries (Wisdom Chapel), said a wife that kills her husband has lost normal humanity. He believes such a woman is possessed.

This, according to him, is because nobody gets married with his or her enemy. “I also believe it’s a pathetic situation that we now found ourselves. There could have been a level of anger and outright provocation before such could take place.

In such scenarios we should be able to understand that a woman is the one that chased man out of the Garden of Eden. So, it’s as if Eve killed Adam.

That is the foundation of women. They are like a horse. You have to tame the horse. How do you do that? You put a bead in the mouth of a horse before you can climb it and when you even do that you have to be gentle with the horse before you can ride on it.

“So, women need care, love, and assurance. You look at what that lawyer did, cut off the penis of her husband, that explains where her anger lies. It probably means she has been denied and she is like saying, ok, you don’t give it to me, you give it to nobody.

I don’t have it, no one else would have it. When a woman begins to talk on a particular issue in a marriage, a wise man will take out time to address such issue. Every woman needs attention; that is who they are. The only thing they need is care and love.

If she doesn’t get the attention she doesn’t care if the whole world collapse and she won’t bother about the consequences. That is the nature of their character and the way God created them. “The Bible fundamentally described them as the weaker sex.

This means she could go to any extend; she can build a house and set it on fire. That is weak. Weakness is not when you cannot fight; it means you don’t have the ability to endure. Your endurance is limited and the temperament is uncontrollable.

What we do to that is to begin to constantly pray and understand that in our marriage we need to be trusted. And in our society we should also realise that the women have a voice and their voices must be heard.

When we do this, we have a better society to live in,” the bishop said. A sociologist, Rev. Bola Nuga, has also given a sociological perspective to the maddening fad. He said that sometimes prolong provocation of the husbands/ wives could be a strong reason for such action. The day this provocation gets to the limit, he added, it then bursts and violent act results which can lead to the killing.

“Financial deprivation of the wife by the husband can also be a factor. Consistent and prolong financial deprivation can really cause anger which can make the wife to negatively react. Harsh economic reality can take its toll on the couple to begin to misbehave.

Besides, when a woman is sexually deprived on a regular basis, and upon the suspicion that the man is cheating on her, can really cause violence and negative reaction from the woman which can make her to sometimes inadvertently kill the man.”

The sociologist said that when dispute remains unresolved for a long time, the tendency is that it could result to frustration, especially if the woman is longing for a resolution, which is not forthcoming.

“The frustration of this prolong unresolved issue can really take its toll on the woman or the man, and, can trigger violent reaction. “Sometimes couple do take each other for granted in their marital existence.

The taking for granted can be that the partner could be thinking ‘there is nothing he/she can do’ when disagreement happens in the home. This assumption can sometimes be taken too far that the partner may want to prove that he/she ‘can do something’ to prove the capability of taking firm decision. That is the frustration or anger of being taken for granted.

“However, when couples are used to a very high standard of living, and when an unexpected event happen to the family, for instance, loss of job or contract, it consequently makes it difficult to keep up with the already established standard of living.

This can cause tension, frustration and bottledup anger in the house, especially when it becomes difficult to provide basic needs in the house and for the children. The bursting of the anger can cause a negative reaction leading to killing/ murdering of the partner.

“Moreover, when a partner has short temper in which little things get the woman or the partner angry, this short temperament can also result in violent and uncontrollable reaction in the home leading to killing or negatively reacting to issues in the house. It also happens when a partner fails to trust each other, mutual suspicion reign supreme.

This can aggravate any small incident in the house resulting to violent reaction which may lead to death of partner.” Nuga equally said that a partner that is melancholic in nature, will always exhibit such behavioural pattern in a relationship.

“It’s just a matter of time before such nature will be fully displayed in the home. Reactions are usually devastating,” he said. Another sociologist at the University of Ibadan, Oludayo Tade (PhD), has also said that the growing killing of husbands by their wives presents a complex but dangerous scenario, which calls for a serious concern about the shaky nature of the Nigerian family.

There are a lot of factors, he said, that could be used to explain what I can call return of violent favour or rise domestic balance of terror. “If we consider the different killings that have taken place from wives to their husbands, one would be able to see that women in distressed marriages are more likely to result to return-aggression or return-violent behaviour.

In other words, women who have been enduring or have history of stomaching and enduring fatal violence from their spouses may decide a return and say enough is enough.

“Unfortunately, because the ‘violent men’ are used to having their way in the past, they are oblivious of the determination to resist future torture. One thing is clear, when men beat or violates their wives; it is physical and does not involve weapons but strengthen their resolve, women use weapons such as knife or substance like poison to end it all.

The use of knife is also to ensure that the partner carry stigma or fills a commensurate pain the woman has been enduring if he does not die. “You could also see that husband killing cuts across all social classes but are more reported in the middle and lower social classes. Forced relationship could also be responsible for such killings.

This occurs where a premature or ill-prepared girl is ‘packaged’ to suit the whims and caprices of parents and such relationship ends up being uncaring, abusive and violent.

In the thinking of the lady, the way to end such nightmare is to annihilate the man in other to have her life back on track. This category utilises poison more than other physical weapon. “Also, social learning from failures of other women, who have suffered to the point of death due to prolonged period of intimate partner violence, teaches those currently experiencing such to take their own fate in their hands and prepare a counter terror strategy.

They are more likely to attack a cheating husband, uncaring man, and a historically aggressive man. Very few kill because of plan to take over the wealth of a very prosperous husband.

Even when this happens the means is not by violence but the use of poison in order to avoid direct linkage of the woman to the crime,” Tade said. He went further to state that the anger and hostility frames of explaining intimate partner violence states that the violent partner believes other person to be selfish, mistrust and mean.

The relationship, the sociologist said, could have suffered delayed child birth and the woman hears of the husband having a child out of wedlock, which triggers violence. Anger and hostility, he added, are clear signposts of impending danger in any distressed marital relationship.

He said: “Just like women, men who die in such instance, have only died only to their insistence on sustaining their male ego of power and domination over the female, and not been able to read signs of balance of terror.

Even when they have inkling of danger such as having opportunity to alert family members and relatives, they still fool-ishly sleep under the same roof with someone who has shown sufficient agency to cause havoc.

“They also mostly sleep in the same room unguarded or separate room without locking their door. Both women and men in such relationships should learn to walk away for some days until nerves are calmed to avert danger.

Contemporary marriages are suffering from violence and I think the violent is taking it by force.” Yet, the Executive Director, Project Alert on Violence Against Women, Mrs. Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, said there is no reason for women killing their husbands/ boyfriends just as there is no reason for men to kill their wives/girlfriends. No one, under no circumstance, she said, has a right to take the life of another.

“However domestic violence is one issue that has for long been trivialised, and allowed to fester in Nigeria. Families, friends, neighbours, the police, religious leaders and the community at large often refer to it as a private matter.

The victims were mostly women, who were often blamed for their victimisation. People never thought men would be victims, which is what we are seeing now. Perhaps, if we all had taken the issue of domestic violence seriously, responding promptly and appropriately to victims’ cries for help, it may not have degenerated to this stage.

“Women are beginning to respond to various challenges in their marriages with violence, just as the men have been doing for so long. The monster called violence has been allowed to root itself deeply in marriages. It is very wrong.

The home should not be a war front. “However, domestic violence can be curbed in two ways: Firstly by mass sensitisation for people to understand what it means, its forms and consequences.

The sensitisation should convey the central message of ZERO TOLERANCE for violence in the home, and stiff punitive measures including ostracisation, imprisonment, community service and sacking from work to serve as a deterrent to would-be perpetrators.

These sensitisation programmes should be done in schools, places of worship, market places, work places and business districts.

“Secondly, state and non-state actors (communities, individuals, NGOs and faith-based organisations) should partner in rendering prompt and appropriate response to reported cases.

Victims should not be told to stay on in an abusive environment. They should leave to live, as that is the only way they can fight back. A dead man or woman can’t fight back. We must ALL say NO to domestic violence, starting from our personal lives and families,” she said. Another woman, Mrs. Elizabeth Nwaka, who has been in a marriage for over 40 years now, told Saturday Telegraph that unlike in their own time, today women in violent relationship may not agree with the assertion of playing the normative gender roles, which expects women to be submissive and passive when they find themselves in such situation.

Nwaka said: “They tend to want to protect themselves by ensuring that items that can be used to defend themselves when their aggressive husbands return home are with them.

They use anything available in that circumstance. Again, women in abusive relationships learn from those who had died of their husbands’ violence that the family system and the religious institutions only preach endurance and not walking away. The today woman, unfortunately, can’t take that any longer. Unlike our own time, education has also opened their eyes.

They are now more likely to attack a cheating, uncaring husband. And whenever such attack takes place, it’s usually deadly.” Meanwhile, Oti told our correspondent that couples in violent relationships should learn to resolve their problem before it escalates. The police, he said, have consistently advised couples to learn to resolve their differences amicably.

“They should also know that one should not be violent for problems of that nature to be solved because it can only create more problems than the one such people are trying to solve.

If you use problem to solve problem you create more problem. “Also, we advise couples to take advantage of all peaceful channels available in the police force, especially in the Lagos State command, for those who stay in Lagos.

The police have a family unit and personnel who specialise to handle the issue of domestic violence. We call it the gender section of the police force. When they come to us we try to resolve what the problem is.

We invite the couple, hear from them and proffer solutions to their problems. We have experts who are well schooled to handle issues of that magnitude.

We also advise those that have violent spouses to stay apart for a while; you don’t have to wait till he/she kills you, you report such persons to us. If you suffer such violence and refused to make a move the tendency for it to escalate is high,” Oti said.

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INCEST: Infants dishonoured by fathers from hell

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It has been a season of agony as the ugly incidence of babies’ defilement by their biological fathers across the country has taking a dimension that gives concern to many. This unbelievable romance of immorality, according to this report by ISIOMA MADIKE, is sometimes perpetrated by close relations, friends of the families, pastors and handlers of the toddlers

 

 

It seems that the case of fathers defiling their own daughters is on the increase in Nigeria. Some of them give “stupid” excuses as the reasons for their actions, with the most “silly” of them being that a spirit told them to do it so that they could be rich.

It is a crime against humanity, and the fact that the offence devalues the human person with emotional scars and pains make it condemnable anywhere in the world. In Nigeria, most mothers will elect to remain silent leading to under reporting of the crime because of shame. Some have also given excuses of stigmatisation associated with it. This informs the reason why it is the most under reported crime in the Nigerian society.

Most horrifying is that most of the defiled victims had been killed by their fathers after assaulting them. However, rate of reporting, prosecution and conviction varies considerably in different jurisdiction.

Just recently, a man was apprehended for allegedly joining his son to defile his little daughter at their home in Eshiagurube Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State. According to information available to Saturday Telegraph, the shameless pair committed the abominable act in the absence of the girl’s mother, who happens to be the man’s wife.

The culprits were apprehended and tied with a chain to a big tyre before they were handed over to the police for proper investigation and possible prosecution. As Nigerians were trying to come to terms with such absurdity, another 60-year-old herbalist, Tajudeen Awoniyi, abused his two daughters and two other minors who were said to be his nieces.

The police in Oyo State got him arrested and paraded him. Awoniyi’s daughters confirmed their father’s ceaseless incestuous relationship with them. They claimed to be victims of their father’s uncontrollable knack for molesting minors.On February 6, a seven-year-old boy, Wisdom Adefemi, had accused his father, Olusegun on the premises of the Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja, of sexually abusing his three-year-old sister, Favour.

But not after an official of Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC), Adekoya Sesan, reported the incident that the state Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, ordered Olusegun’s arrest for defiling his daughter and attempting to sodomise his two sons.

He was picked up at 6, Ipakan Street, Ijede. According to Wisdom, his father not only abused their sister five times, he also attempted to penetrate him and his five-year-old brother, Godspower, through the anus, but they refused because “the pains were too much”.

He gave graphic details of the nightmare and said: “My daddy slept with Favour from here (pointing at the private part of his sister.) He put her on the ground and then he did it. It was not once, it was five times. He wanted to do my own from the back but I refused. He wanted to do Godspower’s too.

When we refused, he started beating us and threatened to disown all of us.” Olusegun, according to Imohimi,had unsupervised access to his kids as he was separated from his wife over alleged spousal abuse. “He inflicted grievous injury in the private part of the child as a result of forceful penetration.

Two older siblings of the survivor were not luckier as he regularly abused them by beating them with cane each time they resisted him from penetrating them through their anus.

“The girl has been taken to Mirabel Medical Centre for examination and treatment while her siblings have been placed in temporary home. The suspect would be charged to court at the end of investigation,” Imohimi said.

Olusegun, nonetheless, denied the allegation, insisting that he was innocent. He was quoted to have said that he was shocked his kids could accuse him of such a terrible crime. He said: “I am surprised at the allegations. I am innocent. I have never done it and I will never do it.

I heard that my children accused me of sleeping with their sister. They never said it before me. “I thought that they would bring them before me and ask them so that I can hear it from them directly but the police did not. You should know they are children and can be lured with biscuit or sweet to say anything.

I do not know where that came from. I know I usually beat my kids when they do wrong. I do not think that is an offence because I would not want my children to grow up badly.

“Their mother left over a year ago and since then, I have been with them. I do bricklaying job sometimes, other times, I work as a conductor to provide our daily bread.” Also, operatives of the police command in Edo State reportedly apprehended one Augustine Obodeke, on suspicion of incest.

Obodeke was said to have had sexual intercourse with his daughter, got her pregnant twice and forced her to abort the pregnancies to conceal the illicit act. In another shocking confession, a 13-year-old narrated how her biological father, Stephen Chimaraobi, and his friend, Paul Oha, abused her for seven years in their Ojodu home in Lagos State.

The police at Grammar School Division, Ojodu, immediately arrested the suspects upon hearing the story. Chimaraobi, 42, from Delta State, has remained single after his wife left him. His friend Oha, from Imo State, is married and has two kids.

The girl said she was defiled at the age of six years and regular abuse continued till she became 13, without each of them knowing until she reported the matter to the police. She said she did not know the damage they were doing to her until recently, as she became an emotional wreck.

The victim further disclosed that her father did not re-marry after her mother left him and he took advantage of her mother’s absence to abuse her repeatedly. The little girl said she was helpless because her father threatened to kill her, if she made this fact public.

She also added that her father’s friend, Oha, was also engaged in frequent sexual assaults. “He used to come to our house at odd times when my father had gone to work.

After each session, he would warn me not to tell anyone about it, including my father. “My father’s friend after abusing me will ask me not to tell my father, not knowing that my father was also abusing me,” she told the police.

The victim decided to risk going to the police to report the matter when the trauma became unbearable. Chimaraobi’s neighbours confirmed the incident and hope the police would ensure that the victim get justice.

The man and his friend were later charged with defilement at the Family Court in Ikeja. Another SS1 student in a secondary school in Ikorodu, Lagos, has also narrated how her 49-year-old father, Adeboye Waheed, slept with her twice.

The girl said she lived with her father and other siblings in a room apartment where he allegedly abused her. “We are six living in the room, my father, his new wife, as my mother had died while I was three years old, my younger brother and two of my halfsisters. My mum gave birth to only me and my brother. He used to check my private part to see if I had started menstruating or meeting men.

So, as I was sleeping in the midnight, he removed my wrapper. By then, my step-mother had packed out of his house as she was accused of infidelity and dating other men in the compound.

“He inserted his finger in my private part and asked me if I had started menstruation. I said no. He asked if I had had sex with anybody, I said no. He said he would use his penis to test it. He climbed on me, I wanted to cream, but he held my mouth. I bled from that night till the following day.

I felt very bad, but he warned me that nobody must hear what he did to me. He repeated it again. He did it between 9pm and 10pm. “He used condom in the first one. This time, he asked me to remove my clothes and lie on the bed. I could not bear it anymore.

So, the following day, I packed my things and left the house. I dropped a note that he should not look for me. I moved to a nearby church and stayed there. My uncle took me to the church and the members brought me to the police after I narrated what my dad did to me.”

In his reaction, Waheed, who initially said that the allegations against him by his daughter were not true, opened up soon after. The Oshogbo, Osun State-born plank seller, said that after the death of his first wife, his elder sister who resides in Ibadan took over the children but had to return them because they were always going out without her consent. “Oga, I’m sorry, pity me, I’m from poor family.

I am the only one taking care of them. Forgive me for whatever happened. I did not know what happened. It was the handiwork of the devil,” he begged the police. In Ogun State, a four-year-old was sexually molested by her aunt’s husband.

The last child of her parents – both in their 60s, the minor had been ferried off to the relatives not long after she was born. Her parents, broke, weak and left with no option in order to give their baby a better life, wanted not just a better living standard but a much younger caregiver to take care of their minor. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an avenue to constantly abuse the toddler.

“The child’s vagina was damaged from daily abuse by her uncle,” Isabella Osowobi, the Executive Director, Stand To End Rape Initiative (STER), a group advocating for sex abuse survivors, who can’t speak about their ordeal, said.

From fathers, this unbelievable romance of immorality has, incidentally crept in to the church, as pastors now defile young girls they are supposed to help mould into better beings.

A few days ago, a general overseer of a popular church in Shomolu area of Lagos, was arrested for allegedly defiling a nine-yearold girl. The victim, who alleged that the suspect had been having carnal knowledge of her since last year, said that the last act was done in the suspect’s wife’s shop located on Bankole Street.

Her mother, Mrs Peace Effiong, however, told the police at Pedro Division in Shomolu that she became suspicious after the primary school pupil began to behave unusually. She stated that on April 13, while her daughter was sleeping, she observed liquid substance suspected to be semen dripping from her virginal. Upon interrogation, her daughter revealed that the pastor, Udoh Okon, had been having carnal knowledge of her.

Imohimi, who paraded the suspect after his arrest, said: “The child went further to reveal that it was in the pastor’s wife’s shop on Bankole Street, Famous Bus-Stop, Shomolu, that she was defiled. Upon interrogation, the suspect denied the allegation.

But, medical examination conducted on the girl revealed that her hymen had been ruptured long ago, an indication that the suspect had been having carnal knowledge of her long before the discovery. “With the foregoing, I hereby reiterate my call to parents to keep an eye on their children as the command will not hesitate to arrest negligent parents and prosecute them in accordance with relevant sections of the law, particularly, section 247 and 249 of Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.”

When confronted with the allegation, the suspect denied culpability. He rather explained that he only saw people gathered and decided to go and see what was happening.

“I saw the victim kneeling and carrying a brick in his hand. When I inquired what happened, her brother said someone told their mother that somebody in the compound had been sleeping with his sister.

“I cautioned her mother not to beat her in public. Only for me to be roped into a matter I knew nothing of. She used to go on errand for me and usually carried my bag home anytime she saw me returning.

They only saw her taking empty bottles of soft drinks from my room outside. Why would I sleep with a girl that is old enough to be my granddaughter? Her parents know those that are responsible.

“Before the living God that created this day, if I have ever slept with her may my life never sees light. They should have extracted my semen to see if it matched with that found in her virginal, that way the truth would have been established.

This mother is conniving with my enemies to bring me down. I have been a pastor for 30 years without any scandal. May my life be taken away if I did it.” Before this incident, another founder of Day Spring Family Chapel, Egbeda area, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, Pastor Isaiah Ojo, had been accused of defiling a seven-year-old girl in his church.

The little girl, identified simply as Bidemi, bled profusely after she was introduced to premature adulthood. According to reports, the 62-yearold cleric allegedly took Bidemi, his friend and fellow pastor’s daughter to the church, and allegedly had carnal knowledge of her. Bidemi was said to be playing on the church premises with her younger brother when the pastor ‘cornered’ her.

The girl’s vagina was said to have been badly torn by the forced penetration. Ojo, however, stunned everyone available when he stated that the little girl and her younger brother used to come to him to play on the church premises.

“Her father is a close friend of mine. On the fateful day, I was on 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.

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, 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,” he said. Sex, which remains a subject discussed in hush tones at many homes, appears to be leaving ignorant kids as potential and vulnerable preys of sexual predators in schools also. Not too long ago, a primary school teacher in Lagos was arrested and charged to court over allegations of sexual abuse.

Mohammed Ibrahim, 27, who teaches in an Islamic school, was arraigned before a magistrate’s court in the Ebute Meta area of the state after it was reported that he had abused two pupils.

The victims, aged six and seven years old, were said to have been forced into the act by Ibrahim at the Al-adab Nursery and Primary School in the Surulere environs. The police prosecutor said that the accused took the pupils to the school toilet and forcefully had carnal knowledge of them.

“The victims screamed for help and were rescued by another teacher in  the school, who reported the accused to the headmaster,” the police added. But the one that swept Nigerians off their feet was the trial of a private school supervisor, who allegedly molested a two-year-old.

Those that were privileged to be at the Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court, Lagos State, watched in awe as the two-yearold narrated her ordeal allegedly in the hands of a man paid to protect her. An ex-social worker, Gloria Chinoyera, said: “At 9.15 a.m. on November 24, 2016, the defendant was brought to the police station, the mother of child `X’ was asked to bring her daughter to the station.

“During the interaction with the child, she said that the accused had used his ‘wee-wee’ on her ‘wee-wee’ and his mouth on her ‘wee-wee.’ She also said that he comes to her classroom to sit and watch the television with her.” Another was also arraigned in a different Lagos court on suspicion of abusing a 30-month-old child. The accused was tried before a magistrate’s court in the Ikeja area of the state.

He was said to have gained access to the child after her mother left her in his care while she ran errands. The steady increase in the rate of child defilement is alarming. Indeed, it has somewhat become a kind of tradition for some people who accept it as a norm in parts of the country.

Between January and September 2017, for instance, a total of 852 cases of domestic violence and related sexual assault cases were recorded in the state alone, the state’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) disclosed. Lagos State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem, said out of the total number, there were 564 domestic violence cases, 60 ‘defilement’ cases, 30 rape cases, 11 attempted rape, 123 child neglect and abuse cases, and 84 cases designated as “others”.

Experts said that most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims; approximately 30 per cent are relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, uncles, or cousins; around 60 per cent are other acquaintances, such as “friends” of the family, babysitters, or neighbours; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10 per cent of child sexual abuse cases.

Founding president of Jose Foundation, also a governmental organisation, Martins Abhulimhen, said that one in four girls and one in 10 boys experience sexual violence and that less than five per cent of children who experience sexual abuses receive support. Perhaps, this may have been the reason why the Lagos State government sets up special sexual offences court for sexual offences with a view to avoiding delays in the prosecution of sexual crimes.

Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who commissioned the Sexual Offences Court, said it was done to make the state uncomfortable for sexual offenders and bring perpetrators to justice without delay.

He added that the present administration had a coordinated strategy, across state agencies and non-governmental organisations, to prevent violence against women, children and men, through DSVRT.

“It is also to provide holistic response to issues of sexual and gender-based violence in the state,” Akinwunmi added. Wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, stressed that such a court would aid speedy hearing and prosecution of such cases.

Worried by the statistics given of reported cases, Osinbajo urged the citizenry to look beyond the statistics, as many more cases were probably not reported. She urged everyone to aid the long arm of the law to reach far and wide, by ensuring that cases were reported and given speedy hearing.

This, according to her, w ensure that justice reigns for all survivors of sexual abuse, not just in Nigeria but around the world. She said: “The statistics given are frightening, even more so, some do not report the crime.

We must look beyond statistics and focus on the faces of the survivors. “We must ensure that the long arm of the law reaches far and wide, all and sundry. We must assist them to bring justice which they deserve. Justice should reign for all the survivors, not just in Nigeria but around the world.”

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Yusuf Ali, went a step further to advocate proactive and stringent punishment enforcement to curb the rising cases of sexual abuse of minors in Nigeria.

Apart from the punishment provided in the statute books for convicted offenders, Ali also advised that convicts should be made to undergo compulsory psychiatric rehabilitation. He said: “Anyone with full sanity will not likely defile a child moreover his own child.”

However, a number of reasons have been adduced for increasing sexual violence against infants. The World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that factors include belief in family honour and sexual primary ideologies of male sexual entitlement and weak legal sanctions for sexual violence. But experts believe there is no single scientific motivation for child defilement.

While desire for power, anger sadism, sexual gratification and mental depravity have been considered as factors, excessive sexual orgies, pornography and alcohol abuse, could not be ruled out. Defilement means having any sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 13 years.

It is a criminal offence under the Sexual Offences Acts and Child Rights Act. The criminal code stipulates in part that ‘’any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under13 is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for life, with or without whipping.” However, a person cannot be convicted of either of the offences upon uncorroborated testimony of a witness.

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