18-year-old 200 level student of Baze University, Ifoema Obalum has accused her father of sexual assault and resisted attempts by officials of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, (NAPTIP), Abuja to forcefully hand her and the younger brother over to the accused.
The duo, had in December last year, ran to NAPTIP seeking protection from the father who is medical personnel at the State House clinic and a lecturer at the same Baze University, Abuja.
She accused her father of sexual assault, physical abuse and inflicting serious injuries on her 15-year-old younger brother since June 2020 when they began living with him. Before then, they lived in their maternal home after their mother and sole custodian died of cancer on May 21, 2018.
However, after a legal fight, the father was granted custody of Obalum and the younger brother by a Lagos family court.
The accused arrived at the headquarters of the agency with the court’s verdict along with his entourage, consisting of his legal representatives, some able-bodied men and a female who tried to take away the children who were handed over to them by the Rapid Response Unit of NAPTIP but failed to achieve his aim as the duo resisted the move.
NAPTIP said it couldn’t go against the court order, but the children resisted, crying and shouting that they would not return to the home of their abuser, but would rather commit suicide. This drew more attention from passersby and onlookers as the Investigating Officer on the case in the Rapid Response Unit of NAPTIP; Mrs. Usafina Chimera attempted to drag the children to their father to be taken away.
When asked by journalists why the agency is returning the children to the alleged abuser after coming to the agency for shelter, Chimera said: “What we do in the Rapid Response Unit is that when a complaint is lodged against someone, we go rapidly to rescue this person. When we received this complaint, we went to Baze University to where she stayed with her brother to rescue her after her exams. Based on her statement, we commenced an investigation, and have taken the case to the legal department and it advise that there is no prima-facie evidence in prosecuting the case.
The girl, who has turned 18, is old enough to go further with the case. As an agency, we follow orders and the directives is that we should hand over the two of them to the father.”
On why she sought help from NAPTIP and their refusal to return to her father, Ifeoma explained that they had never really lived with their father until the passing of their mother shortly before she turned 18. She said their father came with policemen to their school to forcefully take them away from their maternal family’s custody, but failed and later sought custody through the court and it was granted to him.
She said: “I came to NAPTIP because I had to report to them a case of my father sexually assaulting me and physically abusing my brother, how he maltreats us, neglects us, and keeps us locked up in the house for three weeks with no form of communication to the world. No phone, internet, television, nothing.”
MEANWHILE, lawyers to the defendants, who work with PUNUKA attorneys and solicitors led by Ebele Enida has written a petition letter to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene on the matter.
A document made available to The Guardian reads “Petition against Dr. Dike Obalum for physical and Sexual Assault on his biological daughter, Miss Ifoema Obalum and Chukwuemeka Obalum.
The lawyers are urging President Muhammadu Buhari to use his office to investigate the matter and protect the children.
Culled from the Guardian