Filed in News by on March 19, 2011

Family battles Project Alert in court over child custody
By Comfort Oseghale
Saturday, 19 Mar 2011

Project Alert, a non-governmental organisation concerned with women and children issues, has been taken to court by the family of a 14-year old rape victim (name withheld) over the custody of the victim.

The case, which is currently at the Family Court II, Surulere, Lagos, was initiated by the mother of the victim, Mrs. Oluchi Ibe, who swore to an affidavit to that effect.

Joined in the suit is Ms. Osita Lemoha, who was accused of human trafficking and alleged brainwashing of the victim.

The Programme Officer on Human Rights Education, Project Alert, Ms. Kate Ibeanusi, told SATURDAY PUNCH that the rape case was brought to their notice two years ago by Lemoha, who had come across the victim on her way home from a burial.

Ibeanusi said, “Lemoha found the victim loitering on her street at Ebute-Meta around 7.30 pm. She offered the victim shelter when she was told by the victim that she was waiting for her aunt to return from work.

“It was when the victim opened up to Lemoha about how she was repeatedly raped and eventually impregnated by her aunt’s husband, Phillip Ugboaja, that Lemoha brought her to our office.”

THE PUNCH had, in November 2009, published the story of the then 12-year-old victim and how her aunt, Mrs. Jane Ugboaja, had procured an abortion for her illegally after she discovered that her niece had been impregnated by her husband.

In a copy of the affidavit made available to SATURDAY PUNCH, Ibe claimed that the victim only ran away from the custody of her aunt when she was upbraided for being rude.

“To the utmost chagrin of my sister, my daughter ran away from her (my sister) premises in the morning hours of October 24, 2009 and failed to return, even when it was night,” the affidavit read.

No mention was made of the victim’s allegations of rape, pregnancy and abortion against her aunt’s husband.

Accusing Ugboaja of conniving with the victim’s family to re-gain custody of the victim, who is a crucial witness in a trial at the Magistrate’s Court II, Surulere, Ibeanusi said, “Ugboaja came to our office last Friday in company with the victim’s grandfather, mother and uncle.

“They caused a scene here and claimed they would not leave without her (the victim). Unfortunately, the victim was already on her way to our office because we had agreed that her mother (Ibe), who has reportedly been away to the United States, could visit her daughter on her return.

“The meeting was very traumatic for the victim because her relatives weren’t sympathetic; rather, they were upset that she had reported her aunt and her husband to strangers.”


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