BIZARRE! That’s the word to describe the gang-raping of two teenage girls by men old enough to be their fathers in Ondo town.
*Suspects: Olabanji, Abiodun, Fadairo, Bode and Adedayo
Ondo has been in the news in recent times for bad reasons. It is seen in many quarters as the haven for youths and men of questionable character.
If road transport workers in the town are not killing themselves over leadership tussle, cult members, in supremacy battle, are hacking each other to death in broad daylight.
The latest bad news from Ondo is the gang-rape of two girls by five men who also videotaped the crime scene and posted it on social media to further debase their victims.
The alleged rapists are identified as Olabanji Femi, Abiodun Ayodele, Fadairo Wahab, Bode Akinsiku and Adedayo Adebayo.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the suspects, now in prison custody, tortured the girls before they were gang-raped and mindlessly invited some other men to have sex with the girls.
Notable personalities in the town, including the Osemawe of Ondo, Oba Victor Kiladejo, have condemned the act while traditionalists in the town rose to appease the gods of the land for the abomination.
Police sources said the suspects, during interrogation, alleged that the girls stole from one of them after they were invited for a party.
As a punishment, the suspects were said to have decided to torture, gang- rape and videotape the scene and posted the recording on the social media.
Meanwhile, according to the sources, the girls denied the allegation of theft levelled against them by the suspects.
Four girls had been reportedly lured to a party at the residence of one of the suspects. All of the four turned up but two sensed danger and left almost immediately.
The two girls, who stayed, it was gathered, were the ones who allegedly became victims of the alleged inhuman treatment by the suspects.
In a statement to the police, the victims denied stealing from any of the suspects, saying they were invited to a party organised by the daughter of one of the suspects and that, on getting there, they discovered that it was a trap to get back at them for turning down sexual advances from members of a group in the town.
One of them disclosed that after the five men took turns to rape them, they invited their friends by phone to come and “eat free meal”.
According to her, the suspects accused them of refusing the sexual advances of their group members while sleeping with less important group members in the town hence the need to disgrace them by posting the recording on the social media.
The victims said they could barely walk thereafter because of what the suspects did to them, pointing out that they were equally flogged and tortured.
One of them said, “They stripped us naked, seized our clothes and recorded the rape scene. They threatened to take us to the street naked.
“They lured us to the area around noon, held us hostage for several hours during which they did all that pleased them with us. They freed us in the evening and we reported the matter to one of my brothers who vowed to get the video and report the matter to the police.
“Though family members of the suspects begged us and promised to pay us huge sums of money for the rape and torture we were subjected to, my brother got the video recording and reported the matter to the police”.
The brother of the victim who reported the alleged rape to the police (name withheld) told Sunday Vanguard that, following the suspects’ arrest, he had been receiving threat messages allegedly from the suspects’ backers.
He, however, said that he was ready to testify against the suspects in court, adding that he had the video recording of the rape scene.
Ondo State Police Command corroborated the victim’s brother’s claim when it alleged that some powerful individuals were making efforts to frustrate the matter by threatening witnesses.
Command spokesperson Femi Joseph confirmed the pressure from powerful groups in the town.
“We are facing a lot of pressure on the matter”, he told Sunday Vanguard.
Joseph said that some “powerful forces in the town” were doing everything possible to frustrate the case “but the command is determined to get justice for the raped girls”.
“They have tried so much to kill the case but we did not allow that. Now they are working behind the scenes to ensure that they (victims) don’t come to court with the hope that if they don’t come to court, the case would die a natural death”, he added.
“But we assure that the case will be prosecuted and the girls will be adequately protected to ensure that they are present in court. We will ensure their presence in court at the next date of adjournment.
“The girls are not in police custody but safe.
“They have been deliberately taken away from the public glare so as not to be accessible to the people who are pressurising them.
“The girls are not missing. We are facing a lot of pressure on their matter, but, on our part, we are assuring of their safety, nothing will happen to them. This is a case of national interest and we need them to diligently prosecute the case”.
Meanwhile, traditionalists in Ondo, last week, sealed off the gang-rape suspects’ houses in the town.
The development, it was learnt, was to appease the gods over the alleged abominable act.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that before the sealing off of the houses of the suspects, the traditionalists had converged on a traditional spot at Sora Street in the town where they offered appeasement prayers.
The traditionalists, including women, reportedly chased out residents of the houses and used palm fronds to barricade the entrance.
They chanted incantations while performing the rites.
The traditionalists were said to have been concerned about the rape of teenagers in the town.
One of the traditionalists, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “If you watch the gang-rape video, you will agree that it is a taboo to sexually assault a girl not only in Ondo town but also in Yoruba land. We have been hearing stories of rape in our community. We don’t want a repeat of such an ungodly act.”
He commended the Osemawe -in- Council for approving the traditional rites and the sealing-off of the suspects’ houses while lauding participants for “their patriotism and love for the community”.
According to him, the video recording of the gang-rape, apart from going viral on the Internet, the Osemawe-in-Council had received several calls on the issue.
He explained that the action of the traditionalists was also to forestall what he described as such ungodly attitude among youths of Ondo.
“We were so much worried when we heard that the whereabouts of the girls were unknown. It was said that they had been taken away from the community by unknown persons apparently to stall trial. It was also rumoured that the principal suspect had been released from detention”, the traditionalist said.
He called on the police, the judiciary and other stakeholders in law enforcement to ensure justice on the matter.
In the meantime, the suspects have been ordered to be remanded in police custody by a Chief Magistrate Court sitting in Ondo.
The charges against them are conspiracy, rape, defamation of character, torture and videotaping nakedly.