*Mother abandons case after allegedly collecting N40,000 from the accused.
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
A Magistrate Court sitting in Port Harcourt has remanded a 12- year- old girl, (name withheld) in the Port Harcourt Remand Home for telling the court that she willingly eloped and consented to sexual relations with a 38-year-old Alfred Chikere for over a month.
The accused, Alfred Chikere was sent to prison custody until his bail application is entertained for eloping with the 12- year- old girl.
Chikere who was arraigned before Senior Magistrate C.J. Digwe on Tuesday 23rd March 2021, “For abducting a twelve year old girl with intent to have carnal knowledge.”
Chikere had allegedly abducted the 12- year- old girl who just turned 13 some days ago defiled her throughout the period of one month, while the mother of the girl and Police were searching for her.
But it was gathered that a neighbor saw her and took her to Olu-Obansijo Police Station and the mother was informed before Alfred was arrested.
He was charged under section 361 of the Criminal Code Act cap 37. Vol 2 of Rivers state.
The prosecutor, ASP Omurujia said the offence is punishable under section 361, instead of a sexual offence of rape that was the complaints against the accused.
But controversies are now trailing the trial of the case.
According to the prosecutor, the girl clearly told the court that the accused was not her first boyfriend and that she willingly went to the man’s house to stay because she likes sex.
This, according to the Prosecutor was why the accused was charged under section 361 of the law.
Aside this, the girl’s mother had also reportedly collected N40,000 to discontinue with the case, until an activist, John Millar, who is handling the matter informed the Center for Basic Rights And Accountability Campaign.
Center For Basic Rights informed the Police Public Relations Officer, SP Nnamdi Omoni, who directed that the case should be transferred to State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department(SCIID), Port Harcourt, since the matter is under the jurisdiction of the state.
However, the mother has also refused to go to SCIID to make a formal report of the case.
But Police charged Chikere to court for abduction and defilement based on medical report which established case of defilement against the accused.
Activists also contended that there is no law that says a suspect cannot be charged to court without a formal complainant.
Activists and lawyers are however raising dust over the charge against Alfred Chikere, while noting that any girl who is not up to 18 as such cannot give sexual consent under the Nigerian law.
Also, the Rivers State Government has domesticated the Child Rights Act 2003 which indicated that the girl cannot be the girlfriend of the accused.
Activists also pointed out that Nigeria doesn’t have the Romeo and Juliet Law also known as the Close-To-Age Exception.
“The law makes sure that even if a child has consensual sex, in cases where the age of consent is 15 or 16, the person they engage in must not be a certain years older than them. For most countries it is 2 years – meaning that if a child of 15 years old is having sex, it shouldn’t be with anybody older than 17 years.
“In simpler terms, you have laws that protect children of different ages. There is a law for the abuse of children lower than 11. There is one for the exploitation and trafficking of children of 13 or lower than 13 years of age,” said an activist.