By Rebecca Ejifoma
After four years of awaiting justice, a nongovernmental organisation, the RORA Foundation celebrates the conviction of sexual predator and ex-Exxon Mobile Senior Engineer, James Onuoha, whose name made history on Monday June 1 this year as a convicted child rapist jailed for 15 years.
In a media release the NGO issued to applaud the justice system for a job well-done, RORA narrated, “Many do not know the origins of this case, started in Ajah in January 2016 and ended on Monday June 1 this year at Igbosere High Court Lagos, with a 15-year jail term handed down by Justice Adedayo Akintoye”.
The organisation recalled that it started with a WhatsApp message to a group from a member of a women’s business group on or around January 5 2016, having met and bonded with the fellow entrepreneurs on a course some months before.
Accordingly, the woman was upset and outraged, a member of her staff at her catering company reported that her young niece was raped by their landlord the previous day in the presence of her young daughter who witnessed the outrageous crime.
On hearing this, members of the group were disgusted and enraged. A few of them sprang into action.
As a result, RORA foundation was soon born out of the exchange of messages and conversations that ensued.
“The name, which stands for ‘Rape one rape all’ came about as a call to action to everyone that is against rape.
“We believe that when someone is raped we should all feel violated, regardless of our gender, social status, religion, tribe, or relationship to the victim,” the NGO divulged.
Although RORA had no relationship with this child, “We became as distressed as if it happened to each and any one of us”.
Meanwhile, the particular vulnerabilities that come in such cases where the victim is from a less privileged background added to the passion and drive of the groups ethos.
RORA added: “The fact that the victims and their families feel they have no voice or will not be heard because they are poor or less educated absolutely outraged us.”
RORA further described the journey to success as an arduous road. “It was far from easy. At the start, we were discouraged with numerous hurdles and delays. Even to have James Onuoha arrested was difficult”.
“Over the last four years members of RORA have seen James Onuoha at popular social clubs with his family, enjoying leisure activities whilst his victim and her family suffered mentally”, RORA noted.
The NGO, however, decried that “We would see him at court smiling smugly and slapping the backs of his counsel as though it were a social gathering”.
Sadly, the NGO lamented the many cases out there, including the most recent horrific ones which ended fatally. “Some cases reported to RORA involve babies and toddlers, these cases we pray will proceed to court in a timely manner”.
Bent on being the voice of the voiceless, RORA pledged: “Justice must be served. We implore people to report incidents and seek support from foundations and advocates. We worked with many and remain grateful for all assistance in this case”.
In the end, RORA commends Lagos states Domestic sexual and violence response team (DSVRT), Mirabel Centre, The Cece Yara Foundation, Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) and YAP&E who assisted them with connecting and collaborating in the social sector.
Mirabel Centre, according to the NGO, provided free forensic medical services and the doctor that was cross examined defended his findings with seasoned professionalism; he was an asset to their case.
While WARIF provided much needed counselling for this child which helped aid her psychological healing, the Cece Yara foundation also provided invaluable therapy sessions with the family who were all traumatised from the incident.
Listing on, RORA lauded the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, especially the prosecutor and Director, Office of the Public Defender, Dr Babajide Martins, “who has been with us since the start and genuinely believed in this case; to law firm Babalakin & Co and everyone else on the legal team that helped bring this case to court and exercised patience as we kept chasing for updates”.
The NGO further thanked friends and supporters of RORA who sent kind donations of clothes and books for the survivor, or referred them to key contacts and resources, especially Robert Taylor Media who helped the case gain traction at the start.
A spokesperson for RORA said: “We hope this judgement serves as a deterrent to all closet rapists and paedophiles. Onuoha took advantage of this child because she was viewed as a nobody, just a poor help from the village. He didn’t bank on a group of women and their supportive networks, fighting the case on her behalf”.
We hope this sentence encourages more survivors of sexual abuse to come forward and report the crimes against them. “I will like to remind everyone that we all have a role to play in tackling these heinous crimes”.