By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
A 56-year-old man identified simply as ‘Old Soldier’ was yesterday arrested by operatives of the Bayelsa State Police Command for allegedly engaging in the serial rape of a 13-year-old teenager.
Old Soldier, according to those close to the matter, had unlawful and repeated carnal knowledge of the young girl along the Akenfa 3 area of Yenagoa Local Government council of the state.
However, the suspect, now in police net, reportedly told investigators that the teenager was betrothed to him by the parents of the girl, saying he had not committed any offence.
It was gathered that two others who knew about the matter, but were trying to cover up for the suspect and prevent the crime from being reported to the Akenfa Divisional Police Station, were also nabbed along with him.
The girl child advocacy group, Operation Rescue and the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), the two organisations handling the case, told journalists in Yenagoa that the victim, Miss Idesimi James, from Okoloba area of the state, was heard screaming occasionally from the house of the suspected rapist.
It was learnt that the suspect had also earlier told his landlord that the little girl was his daughter when she was first brought to live with him.
The state Coordinator of Operation Rescue, Elizabeth Egbe, described the incident as “shocking.”
“The owner of the house the suspect was staying heard the 13-year-old girl screaming and peeped to inquire what was happening and discovered that the man was having sexual intercourse with a child he claimed was put in his custody as a daughter”
“On the second occasion that he heard the scream again, he drew the attention of the neighbours and the suspect was arrested in the act,” she said.
She added that the members of the two advocacy groups were thereafter called in to rescue the child, noting that they are now currently handling the matter.
The suspect, under preliminary interrogation, was said to have claimed the victim was betrothed to him by her mother and reportedly threatened to deal with those involved in the matter since he was a soldier. It could not be verified if the suspect was actually in the security services.
Speaking on the development, the Chairperson of FIDA, Dise Ogbise-Erhisere, assured the public that her organisation would ensure that the case was charged to court promptly for prosecution.