A 52-year-old retired civil servant, Paul Akpederi, is cooling his heels in a Lagos police cell after eating the forbidden fruit.
The Delta State indigene, who lives on Adegbite Street, Ori-Okuta, in the Ikorodu area of Lagos State, was alleged to have raped his 15-year-old daughter, Rose, for over three years.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Paul started sexually abusing Rose when she was in Junior Secondary School Three.
When the secret got to the knowledge of a teacher, Paul allegedly changed her school.
The suspect was said to have continued the abuse until she got to Senior Secondary School Two in her new school.
Rose’s former teacher was said to have run into her sometime in October 2017 and told a friend about Rose’s plight, who then alerted the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender through the agency’s social media platform.
Our correspondent learnt that officials of the agency reported the case to the police at the Owutu division, who then arrested the suspect and rescued the 15-year-old.
A social worker, who was part of the rescue, told our correspondent that Paul started sleeping with his only daughter after separating from her mother.
He said, “The man had been defiling his daughter since the wife left him. She is their only daughter and when the marriage broke down, he took custody of her. That was when the problem started.
“He started sleeping with her when she was barely 12 years old. She was in JSS 3 then. They were about to start their final exams in the junior school when her colleagues found her crying uncontrollably. When they could not console her, they called the attention of one of their teachers, who then took her to a room.
“She told the teacher what she had been going through and the teacher informed Rose’s pastor at a branch of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, who counselled her. Her father was invited and that was the end of the case.
“The man, who was desperate to cover up the crime, changed her school and she lost contact with the teacher.”
PUNCH Metro gathered that the defilement continued until Rose got to SSS 2 in her new school.
It was learnt that the teacher in her former school ran into her one day and they had a brief discussion about her (Rose) welfare.
The teacher, who suspected the abuse was still continuing, reportedly informed a friend, who wrote about Rose’s ordeal on OPD’s Facebook page on October 9.
A member of the OPD team that visited the victim’s school said she initially denied the defilement and attempted to exonerate her father.
He said, “She kept lying and when we didn’t get a breakthrough, we got in touch with the mandatory reporter (teacher) who then assisted us in trailing her to her parent’s house. The police arrested the man and rescued the girl.
“They were both taken to a police station. During interrogation, the girl again denied that anything happened. Her father suddenly became aggressive and said we didn’t have his permission to interview his daughter.
“The girl was taken to the OPD’s office at Ikorodu, where she opened up to an officer. We took her to a home in Ijede, where she was placed in a shelter and protective custody.”
The social worker who interviewed Rose said she gave a chilling account of her ordeal.
“She said her father had been sleeping with her since she was in JSS 3 and he slept with her at least three times in a month. She said he slept with her in August and September 2017 as well. She explained that he always poured his semen into her private parts and he never used contraceptives. She said anytime he slept with her, he would tell her not to tell anybody. The girl said she could not tell people because she thought nobody would believe her,” the official said.
It was gathered that she was placed on medication over complaints that she had yet to see her menstrual period, just as some growths were allegedly spotted in her private parts.
She was reportedly taken to Mirabel Centre, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, for medical tests.
Our correspondent gathered that the result of the tests, which had been given to the police, showed that Rose’s hymen was broken and there was “continuous penetration” of her private parts.
PUNCH Metro learnt that after the victim’s confession, the Owutu Divisional Police Officer requested that she be brought back to the station.
In a drama that ensued at the DPO’s office, Paul, who had initially boasted, was alleged to have become humble after being confronted with his daughter’s confession.
“When the DPO asked what he had to say to the daughter’s allegations, he said, ‘Oga, I am in your hands o’. The DPO ordered that he should be taken back to the cell,” a source said.
The Director of the OPD, Mrs. Olubukola Salami, confirmed the incident, adding that the agency would pursue the case to the end.
She said, “We cannot stop re-emphasising the zero tolerance of the Lagos State Government for domestic and sexual abuse. OPD is alarmed at the high rate of incidents of sexual abuse, especially by people of trust. OPD is not only interested in arresting and prosecuting perpetrators, it is also interested in curbing this rising trend.”
The Lagos State police spokesperson, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, said the suspect would soon be arraigned in court.
He said, “The case was reported at the Owutu division and the DPO led a police team to arrest the suspect. The girl was taken to a hospital where preliminary medical tests were conducted on her to be sure she was not infected or had any pregnancy or mental issue as a result of the sexual abuse.
“The case will be transferred to the Gender Unit of the state police command for further investigation before the case will be charged to court. For now, we are working with the girl’s confessional statement.”