Recent months have been marred with cases of sexual harassments with stories emerging from various parts of the country.
We are saddled with yet another alleged rape case involving a 13 year old girl in Calabar South Local Government Area, Cross River State. She was allegedly molested by a Reverend minister in Methodist Church Nigeria, Edibe Edibe Road, Calabar. Surprisingly this ignominious and contemptible act happened inside the Church’s vestry in August 2020.
According to a family member who pleaded anonymity because of stigmatization, recounted that the child was not only raped, but she was brutalized in the process. He said “she has gone for medical test, taken medication and necessary treatment has been administered. The matter was reported to the police for further investigation”, Our source disclosed.
While still recounting the experience, he said “I was home when the Minister, Rev. Friday Ikpe called me on phone requesting the child’s presence in Church to be coached on the Bible passages she was apportioned since she was billed to represent the Church at a Bible Quiz competition. Willingly, I obliged, not knowing there was an evil intention”.
Immediately she stepped inside the vestry, the Pastor began to fondle her breasts and all attempts by the little teenager to escape proved abortive as the doors were all locked. Rev. Ikpe succeeded in overpowering her by removing a rope from his pockets, tying both her arms and legs, stuffing her mouth with a handkerchief, then having her raped to his satisfaction. This subjected her to severe pains. The petrified girl, in tears, ran to meet the wife of the Pastor but unfortunately she was not available. She then went to a Church member’s house recounting her ordeal, who then alerted her guardians. The little girl we learnt has been traumatized medically and psychologically.
The matter was reported at the Mbukpa Police Station, Calabar, but all efforts to arrest Rev. Ikpe proved futile as the Church authorities were hell bent on sweeping the case under the carpet to “shield the Church from shame”. They went ahead and pleaded with him to forgive the suspect which he was coerced to accept.
When tensions were high, The Archbishop of Calabar Archdiocese, His Grace, Most Rev. Emmanuel Udofia constituted a make shift Committee chaired by the Provincial Synod Secretary, Rev. Emem-Abasi Ebong to investigate the case. “This was merely done to douse tensions and portray them as working for the interest of the victim” a source confided. However, he succeeded in further sweeping it under the carpet without the law taking it’s course.
The Rev. Ikpe was Archbishop Udofia’s Chaplain and is understood to have threatened to expose the sexual escapades of his boss should he dare move against him.
The Archbishop thereafter enhanced the alleged culprit’s swift exit to Eket, Akwa Ibom State and made an order that no one in the Local Church should ever make mention of the incident.
Investigations have it that other under-aged girls have on different occasions testified as being victims before this ugly incident occurred but have always been cowed and threatened to submission by the Archbishop’s influence. Most members of the Church have refrained to speak on the matter as a grave consequence awaits whoever violates the order. “Refusal to adhere to their order will attract an outright suspension or they will dismiss you from Church” a youth Fellowship member submitted. The medical report and the extract of the case will be retrieved from the police and the family as evidence to the case.
However, a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) got wind of the disdainful act and pursued the case with spirited intensity.
Some other NGOs in Calabar have taken up the case with the State Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Humanity and Social Welfare. The Ministry, we understand, has written to the Archbishop to produce the errant Priest or risk sanctions. However, there is no clue if this has been complied with as at the time of filing this report.
A Ministry of Justice personnel confirmed the development. “It’s a serious case and we will get to its roots.” She said.
Rape or attempted rape are criminal offences with penalties ranging from 14years to life imprisonment under sections 358 and 359 of the Criminal code of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Concealment, subversion, aiding and abetting rape also carry severe penalties under the law.
Attempts to reach the Archbishop was unyielding as his Security disallowed our correspondent entry insisting “oga no dey”.
Methodist Church Nigeria holds a prestigious place as the first Church in Nigeria since 1842 with a mission to build a spiritually vibrant Church in serving humanity.