By Odimegwu Onwumere
Nigeria is encumbered by the dissipated acts committed virtually on a daily basis by those supposed to be the watchdogs of the society. It has reached the level that many teenage girls are defiled by those supposed to be their spiritual fathers. The infuriating part of it is that many of the girls whose so-called pastors encompass and ‘taste’ their ‘forbidden fruits,’ are asked by their abusers to keep quiet. But eventually, the parents or guardians of the victimised girls will find out, hence they report the pastors to the authorities to be investigated.
Many of the bawdy rape videos are made public on media platforms such as the U-tube and circulated on social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter, 2Go, Badoo, etc, hoping that people – especially parents and guardians – would be sensitised enough to take the appropriate steps to protect their children and wards from randy pastors.
It is believed that the reason for circulating the videos is to stem the tide, but unfortunately it has not. Some clerics are like the proverbial dog which masticate the bone fixed on its neck for keep. Unfortunately also, many of the girls the amorous pastors defile are under-aged girls, making the supposed men of God paedophiles, which is a crime under the United Nations law. Based on the number of those arraigned in court or paraded by the police, many Nigerians have called for the castration of such pastors.
This, according to them, is because no amount of rehabilitation could remould such pastors’ lives. Like Okonkwo in the fictitious Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe who kills Ikemefuna, a boy that calls him father, some of the pastors are raping under-aged daughters of their friends who are also their church members and hold them in high esteem. A pastor of one Faith Ministry in Awaka, Egbu, Owerri, Imo State, reportedly had carnal knowledge of two of his female members, aged seven and nine. The parents, said to have trusted the pastor, found out the damage done to their children, when they noticed stains of blood on the girls’ clothes. When it was reported that the pastor defiled the girls, members of the church, who had thought that their pastor was as holy as he had always preached, were stunned.
A newspaper reported that a 12-year-old girl confessed in September 2013 how her pastor raped her throughout the night, as if it was a ‘holy ghost’ vigil. Members of the church situated at Oyeagu Abagana in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State, were speechless when the girl said that the randy pastor lured her to a hotel under the pretence that he was going to exorcise her of impure spirits, known in Nigeria as “deliverance”. The victim was said to have told a Magistrates’ Court in Abagana that she reminded the pastor it was a sin but the lecherous cleric refused to listen. “It started on a Tuesday when I went to the church for prayers. I have not been hearing clearly with my ears for some time. So, I went to the pastor for prayers and when I told him my problem, he said I should stay behind that he would pray for me after everyone had gone.
“He poured anointing oil into my ear and mouth. He now ordered me to remove my dress and he poured on my tummy and started massaging it,” she reportedly said. “After the service, only the pastor and his friend were left. He said he would take me to the house and pray for me, but when I objected and told him that my father would kill me, he said I should not mind; that nothing would happen to me,” she added. The girl said that the pastor later took her to a hotel, ran upstairs and came back and ordered her and his friend to come with him. “He took us upstairs and put his friend in another room and took me to a separate room. He ordered food for me and alcoholic drink, to which I objected. He said the drink was part of the ‘deliverance’ that I had to drink it,” she said. Earlier in September 2011, police in Edo State arrested a pastor, who reportedly defiled a 12-year-old choir member of his church at Afuda-Uromi in Esan North-East Local Government Area.
The pastor-from-hell was detained at the Uromi Police Divisional Headquarters. The girl, whose name could not be given for “legal reasons,” said that her pastor, who drove to the church in his Mercedes Benz car on that faithful day, immediately started enquiring about her name and that of her two female friends, who were with her in the auditorium. Mr. Ngozi Anjorin will not forget December 15, 2012 in a hurry. It was a day her niece was allegedly sexually abused by Pastor Alasco Sobowale at Epe in Lagos State. According to report, the 12-year-old girl was raped at her house at 10, Togodo Street, Temu Town. Anjorin said that her niece was brought to Lagos about two weeks earlier, so that she could send her to school. According to Anjorin, her niece only spoke Igbo, of which only the pastor and she, who was their neighbour, did speak Igbo. On that particular night, according to the woman, her children were in the room watching television, but she couldn’t find her niece. Anjorin said that she called her but got no response.
According to her, she then went to the toilet, which was detached from the building, to check if her niece was using the lavatory. She said: “I knocked on the door of the toilet and the pastor immediately ran out and I saw her inside the toilet. When I asked her what she was doing inside the toilet with the pastor, she said he lured her into the toilet and covered her mouth with his palm, so she wouldn’t scream and raped her.” On February 21, 2013, members of Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), in Abeokuta, arrested a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) for allegedly raping a 12-year-old housemaid. According to report, the pastor, who was an interpreter with the church, committed the crime in his home at 6, Shamusideen, Oke-Sokori area of the town, while his wife was said to have been away. After the show of shame, the girl reported the incident to her parents, hence his arrest.
In an interview with New Telegraph, Mary Ikoku, the President of Working Moms Africa, WMA, publishers of Working Moms Africa (WMA) magazine, expressed concern over the spate of pregnancy among teenage girls out of wedlock in the country as well as the illegitimate baby factories. Ikoku, who served as Special Assistant, Media, to the late Prof. Dora Akunyili, said ‘Ogbako ndi Nne’, (dialectical name of Working Moms Africa), said she was gathering mothers in South-East zone of Nigeria, to find answers to the baby factory threat devastating the country. According to a report, over 20 baby factories have been discovered in the South-East since 2011. In a statement by the Campaign for Democracy (CD), no fewer than 2,500 teenagers were rescued from baby factories in the South-East in the past one year.
The Chairman of South-East Zone of CD, Uzor A. Uzor, said in a statement that in Abia and Imo states alone, about 1,800 pregnant teenagers and babies were rescued from ‘baby factories’ in the last 12 months. The number, according to him, is still rising. Ikoku expressed dismay over the growing trend. She said: “We read in the newspapers and watch on TV the atrocious activities of these people, but going down East and having a convergence of real people is a different thing entirely. “We got to learn that apart from those teenage girls who are lured into the business by their abductors, some gullible parents give consent for their female children to be taken away by the operators of the business for a monthly pay arrangement. The girls are put into family way by a young man hired by the factory operators.”
According to Ikoku, the babies given birth to by the girls are sold between N300,000 and N500,000, depending on the gender while the parents or guardians may only be receiving just a meagre sum as recompense. She said that they in WMA were stunned by the imminent catastrophe, if nothing was done fast. According to her, women do not openly opt for adoption, therefore many would rather plant fake pregnancies until nine months when they will go and ‘deliver’ their babies or ‘harvest’ babies from the baby factories.
NAPTIP can’t save the situation
Ikoku said alongside the people working assiduously to stop it, several others were thwarting their efforts. She said: “The National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) that many thought would have saved the situation, is more or less a toothless bulldog. “There has thus far been no constitutional backing for them to arrest the situation.
The NAPTIP team in Enugu State is ready to do its job but it needs to be empowered. “They don’t have the constitutional backing to do much and they can’t do anything outside the scope of their mandate.” Many Nigerians believe that the atrocities being committed by the so-called men of God represent apocalyptic signs. Others believe that any pastor caught indulging in such acts should be held responsible for his actions and not the church. It is a pastor that commits an offence not the church, so blaming the churches whose pastors are involved in this show of shame does not worth it. There should be a proper follow-up and justice should prevail. The Bible says “the soul that sinneth shall die”. Apostle Paul, in Galatians, 19 enumerated the embodiment of ‘flesh’ for which the pastor has fallen victim. Being a pastor can’t take anyone to heaven.
- Onwumere writes from Rivers State