Family of 8-year-old minor raped by 51-year-old clamour for out of court settlement –NHRC

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Uba Group

BY AGNES NWORIE, ABAKALIKI

The National Human Rights Commission, Ebonyi State office, has expressed shock at the unimaginable attitude of the parents and family members of an eight-year-old minor allegedly raped by a 51-year-old man for an out of court settlement.

Speaking to The Point correspondent in Ebonyi, State Coordinator of the Commission, Onyekachi Okorie, noted that the commission came across a post on the Child Protection Network’s Whatsapp forum detailing the alleged abominable act and immediately swung into action.

“Luckily, the commission met the victim (name withheld), her mother and the suspect, simply identified as Paul Nkwuda, aged 51 years, and the relatives of the rapists in the hospital waiting for the doctor to attend to the girl. The Commission’s Investigation Officer got the necessary data and called the police who came to arrest the suspect.

He expressed disappointment that parents of the victim and relatives of the suspected culprit were clamouring for the release of the suspect and opposing proper investigation of the matter and possible prosecution. He said they were insisting that they wished to settle outside the commission and that this would be at the detriment of the victim.

He said, “Our greatest challenge is that the parents of the girl, who is the victim, and relatives of the suspect, are pleading with the Commission to close the case so that the families of both parties can go home and settle at home.

“However, the National Human Rights Commission, Ebonyi State office, has made it clear to the parents that they are not the victim but the child. Besides, the case is criminal in nature and cannot be settled in the village but through due process according.”

“Meanwhile, the suspect is currently in police custody and will be arraigned according to the stipulations of the law. The victim is currently receiving treatment at the Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki,” the coordinator added.

He assured that as soon as the victim was stable, she would be referred to the gender child department of the National Obstetrics Fistula Centre, Abakaliki, for more specialised medical care and psychological attention.
Okorie admonished the parents to cooperate with the law enforcement agents and the state Ministry of Justice in order not to be charged with conspiracy or aiding and abetting crime against a minor.

The NHRC state coordinator pledged that, in line with its mandate, the agency would continue to monitor the process to see that the young female victim received all the care she needed and that the suspect “goes through the scrutiny and consequences of the offence, if found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.”
He said, “The Commission is grateful to the Child Protection Network of Ebonyi State, the GBV Taskforce of Ebonyi State, the Police Force and especially the Whistle blower from FETHA hospital for their cooperation and bringing the case to the knowledge of the Commission. NHRC enjoins members of the public to report all cases of Gender Based Violence and all human rights violations to the office of the National Human Rights Commission, Ebonyi State, or its partnering agencies and CSOs.

The Commission also noted that it had resolved 30 out of 45 cases reported to it in the first quarter of 2021, while the rest were still ongoing.