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I WENT TO EASE MYSELF AT THE BUSH SCHOOL TOILET BUT TWO BOYS CAME WITH KNIFE AND ORDERED ME TO…13 YEAR OLD CHIDINMA

I WENT TO EASE MYSELF AT THE BUSH SCHOOL TOILET BUT TWO BOYS CAME WITH KNIFE AND ORDERED ME TO…13 YEAR OLD CHIDINMA

Thirteen-year-old Chidinma recalls the day she walked behind her school building in Dutse Alhaji, a suburb of Abuja, to relieve herself. With no decent latrine, it was nothing unusual for female pupils to urinate under the cover of overgrown weeds.

But on this afternoon, two boys, armed with knives, emerged from a nearby bush and led Chidinma away.

“They threatened me and forced me to follow them to a bush path,” the girl told PREMIUM TIMES during a recent interview. “Then, they raped me and warned me never to tell anyone about it.”

Weeks later, a test confirmed Chidinma was pregnant. She dropped out of school as her parents struggled to care for her and prepared for her baby.

“My daughter has had to stop schooling, following the pregnancy, and with the prevailing economic condition, catering for her and the little baby, as well as my other family members has not been easy,” her father, Chidera Idoko, a timber trader, said.

Police identified the girl’s attackers as James Keitura and Elijah Kufre, and arrested them after Mr. Idoko traced their homes. (For this report, this newspaper agreed not to use Chidinma’s real names).

But over a year after the arrest, the case has made little progress. The matter stalled after the suspects retracted their admission of the crime.

“At the police station, the boys confessed to the crime and were then charged to the upper area court in Gudu. However, after arraignment, they recanted their earlier confession,” said Mr. Idoko.

The police prosecutor, Kufre Ebong, confirmed those claims to PREMIUM TIMES.

“Yes, the boys had confessed to the crimes during the investigation and we have their confessional statements. But they denied committing the crime in court,” he said angrily.

That retraction complicated the case, forcing it to remain at the pre-trial stage till it was transferred to a high court of the Federal Capital Territory in June 2017.

The High Court, presided by Justice A. S. Adepoju, ordered the suspects to be remanded in prison pending their compliance with a N5 million bail condition.

Amid ever growing reports of rape in Nigeria, more victims are finding it difficult to get justice. Now, as the wheel of justice continues to grind ever so slowly, some parents and families of victims are coming forward to share their stories in the hope justice may come.

Activists and families of victims say most cases of rape stall because of poor investigation and judicial bottlenecks.

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