We went to great lengths to get this story and it is a woman’s subtle cry for help in the face of the evil seemingly done by men garbed in religious cloak.
Kokoma John Udoh is a woman in her late thirties. She wears a concerned frown, hisses; heaves one long pain-written-all over sigh and then rests a part of her face on her chin. As she looks at us, her teary eyes, focused on a distance seen only by her, is the perfect wrap that tells you all is definitely not well.
A concerned citizen had just a day before www.calitown.com met Kokomma, called to say the lady needed help. As the phone conversation went on, it became clear that someone, somewhere, had allegedly defiled Kokomma’s 13-year old daughter, the rest is what you will read here.
“Please sir, I need help, I need help. I don’t know why this kind of thing happened to my daughter”, in between sobs, she began. “How can pastor do my daughter this kind eh?” (she falters in English). While her question was rhetorical, we could clearly establish that the man suspected to be at the centre of this defilement issue is a pastor.
We ask her to throw more light on what happened and she points us to her daughter, a skinny 13-year old who is quietly seated by her, teary eyed and staring into space. Her mother grants us permission to talk to her. Careful not to increase the trauma around her, our first words to her are soothing and reassuring; then we ask her to recount what happened.
Her exact words; “…sir, I was in the house when pastor sent for me on Saturday. When I reach (sic) his house, he say (sic) I should come inside and sit. Small time he came to me and ask me if I have a boyfriend. I tell pastor that I don’t have a boyfriend and he say it is a lie. Pastor now bring out koboko (a whip) and say he will beat me if I don’t talk true. I tell him it is true that I am telling him. Pastor now hold me in my hand and drag me to his room. I struggle with him but he say l should keep quiet and I started crying and shouting but nobody hear…”. Tears roll down her cheeks and her words become muffled; we patiently console her and encourage her to bare it all.
We gather from her that after the man was done, he told her not to mention what happened to anybody and that he was going to take care of her. When she left the place of this hateful ordeal, she promptly sought her father out and reported this incident to him.
Incensed, her father went after the now fleeing pastor. The suspect was identified to www.calitown.com as one Ukeme Ikpeme who pastors a church in Ikot Nkebre, Eight Miles, Calabar, Cross River State.
As the accompanying whirlwind of the suspect’s action blew, Ikpeme fled to an unknown destination. The hierarchy of the Sanctified Mount Church, waded in after the matter was reported to traditional chiefs of the area. “Painfully, the victim’s father was offered an outrageous N20,000 (twenty thousand naira) which the man ridiculously collected, as compensation for this heinous crime”, one source maintained. “When the little girl’s maternal aunty heard that her father had greedily collected the money, instead of standing up for his daughter, she was annoyed and went to report the matter to the police, which ideally should have been the first thing to do”, the source added.
As a multitude of calls came in, a woman simply identified to us as Eka CY, is mentioned by the victim as the ” aunty that boiled water to wash me after what pastor did”. The calls were intercessory, meant to water down whatever actions the victim’s (now charging and raging) aunty was bent on doing. “They kept calling my sister but we ignored them and went to the police at Eight Miles and her father was arrested for not reporting the matter but going instead to collect the N20,000. You won’t believe that after he collected the money, her gave her N100, to go and buy something for herself”, Kokomma revealed. It is at this point that we also discover that the victim’s parents live apart.
Surprisingly, Kokomma maintains too that after the matter was reported to the police, a medical report form was issued them. She claims the form was carefully taken away from them by the head teacher of Bishop Etokidem Nursery School, simply identified to www.calitown.com as Mma Maryann, with the insistence that the matter can be settled without the intervention of the police. “Even bishop called and begged that we should please take it easy that Ukeme Ikpeme is one of his best pastors. I told bishop that we will collect N300,000 to cover all the expenses but he took me to his house and begged me with N50,000. We collected the money because we had no money to pay for her medical expenses” Kokomma again disclosed.
“O my God, pastor slept with my little child. I he has any sickness, how am I sure he no give am?”, she loudly laments. It must be pointed out that the suspect is married with two kids, a girl and a boy, aged five and two respectively.
In the course of putting together this story, several attempts to get in touch with the suspect and the church hierarchy, proved abortive.
While it seems like pressure from all corners may be cowing the best efforts of a woman to get justice for a violated daughter, several clogs stand in her way. One, a medical report that should have validated the defilement claims has still not been obtained; blocked deliberately by those who want all of this muddled up. She has also told us that she cannot afford legal representation, the reason she has let her cry out, hoping someone out there can help out.
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