How a mother of four was raped by sons’ barber

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For the last five years, 30-year-old
Bassey Victor, has been working as a barber in a shop along Raji Oba,
Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos.

For those five years, Rachael’s husband and three of her four children have been part of his loyal customers.
They referred to him as their family barber.
Rachael (not real name) is a trader
married to a Delta State indigene, a businessman who often travelled for
days, entrusting the care of the home and children in the hands of his
But sometime in March, while her husband
travelled out of Lagos for work, she became a victim of a heinous crime
she could not have imagined would ever happen to her.
Rachael sounded strong initially, as she
told our correspondent her story in the office of the Esther Child
Rights Foundation she had run to for help.
But midway into her story, her strong
façade cracked, spilling out the evidence of her trauma. She cried. The
tears spilled out in torrents.
Rachael did not have to explain all the
physical and psychological trauma that had been brought upon her since
that afternoon in March. Her expression alone told a million stories.

She said, “He (Bassey) was so familiar
with my family that he once even approached my husband, pleading with
him to open a barber’s shop for him.
“Around December, my husband took his
clipper to the barber to have a haircut and it seemed it did not work
well. He left it with Bassey to have it repaired. I asked for the
clipper back because it had been there for too long and he said he
needed money for the repairs. My husband gave him the money.
“Sometimes, when I took my three boys
there to have a haircut, I would leave them with him. He would cut their
hair and send them home.
“There was a time I noticed an infection
on the head of one of them and I asked if he was using our clipper but
the children said they did not know.
“I then asked Bassey for the clipper. He
gave some excuses that it still did not work well after the repair. The
last time I asked, that day in March, he told me that the clipper was
at home.”
Bassey, who lived a short distance from
his shop, allegedly told Rachael that he had something to do along his
residence and he could stop by and get her the clipper.
Since she had insisted on getting back the clipper that day, Rachael said she followed Bassey to his house.
It was about 1pm on a Friday.
“When we got to the house, I stayed at
the entrance as he went inside. His younger brother was at home. While I
waited outside, he spoke in their dialect to his younger brother. The
boy then went out.
“While I stood, he was going about as if
he was trying to locate the clipper. His younger brother lingered
around outside too. He then spoke to the boy again in their dialect. The
boy suddenly pushed me inside the house. Before I knew what was
happening, Bassey had locked the door.
“I was initially confused because I had
no idea what he was trying to do. I asked him if he was mad. I was so
angry I was looking for any object around the room to just hit him and
injure him.
“He then said he had something to tell
me. I asked what he wanted to tell me that he could not say while I was
outside and had to tell his younger brother to push me inside.
“He said he had wanted to tell me for a
long time that he had feelings for me. I told him he must be stupid
because he knew I was married and knew my husband. He suddenly grabbed
me and I screamed for help. He punched me till I found it difficult to
struggle with him any longer.
“He tore my dress and my underwear as he
slammed me on the bed. When he was done raping me, he let me unlock the
door but I made sure I took the torn underwear with me.”
Rachael said when she stepped outside
the apartment, she then realised why nobody came when she screamed. She
said the compound was deserted.
Two weeks passed after the incident.
Rachael cried alone at home. She could not leave the house. She waited
for her husband to arrive from his journey. It was not a discussion that
could be made on the phone.
When she narrated what transpired to her husband, he immediately called his family members.
For Rachael, who is a Yoruba woman, her troubles were not over.
She was mandated to undergo a cleansing ritual in her husband’s hometown in Delta State.
It was learnt that without the ritual,
she would never be allowed to cook for her children or husband and
neither can he ever have intercourse with her.
“They said I would bring calamity over my husband and children and may cause their death,” she said.
Rachael said she ran around to find N300,000 which was used for the rituals.
Meanwhile, the case was reported at the Ipaja Police State, Moshalashi.
One Inspector Omoh was assigned to it as
investigating officer. Bassey was arrested and later arraigned at the
Ogba Magistrate’s Court, Lagos, for rape.
He was granted a N500,000 bail along
with other conditions which he could not meet for two weeks and so,
remained in the Kirikiri Prisons.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that while the case was ongoing, more revelations about Bassey emerged.
Rachael said an old woman and her
daughter came to her house to beg her one night. She later realised that
the daughter was living in Bassey’s house as his “wife.”
“The woman said I should forgive him.
She then said, ‘Is it not the same way he raped this one (her daughter)
and impregnated her before her father sent her out to live with him
(Bassey)? I was shocked. I told them the matter was not in my hands
anymore,” Rachael said.
But again, this was not the end of Rachael’s problems.
She told our correspondent that she had become a laughing stock on the street as some neighbours now call her “Bassey’s wife.”
According to her, when Bassey met his
bail conditions and left the prison custody, he started to spread the
story around the neighbourhood, making people to jeer at her.
“Sometimes, some people who knew me
would come to my house and tell me they heard some bad things about me
and ask me what really happened. Everybody expected me to start telling
them how he raped me. I have become a symbol of shame. I cannot count
the number of times I have seen people, pointing and laughing at me on
the street when I pass by,” she said.
However, after an adjournment, a
postponed sitting because of holiday and another sitting in which Bassey
was never brought to court from prison, Rachael alleged that the
prosecutor, Inspector Ayorinde Ezekiel, told her that the next
adjournment was Monday, August 28.
Before then, Ezekiel had allegedly approached Bassey and her husband with a strange instruction.
“The prosecutor asked me that if the
family of Bassey gave me N300,000, would I accept it? He later told me
that five per cent of whatever they pay me would be his. I told my
husband about it and he decided to call the prosecutor. I asked him to
tell Mr. Ezekiel that whatever they decide to pay, they should take it
to court,” Rachael said.
On August 28, Bassey and her husband
went to court and were told that the case had been heard on August 21
and had been struck out.
When she called the prosecutor to find
out what happened, Ezekiel told her it was struck out by the magistrate
because she did not appear that day.
Bassey’s family now suspect that Ezekiel
deliberately gave them a wrong date so that he could tell the court to
strike out the case.
They believe he had been bribed by Bassey and his family.
On the part of the investigating police
officer, Omoh, he told Rachael that he did not know why the case was
struck out too, saying he was not in court that day (August 21).
Omoh said it was strange that the court
could strike out a case simply because the plantiff (Rachael) was not in
court on a single sitting.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that
after advice from family, Rachael had to go to the hospital to have
herself tested. She took the test report which showed some
staphylococcus infection.
Our correspondent reached out to Ezekiel
about Rachael’s allegations but the prosecutor insisted that there was
no truth to all her claims.
He said, “Did she tell you that I gave
you the wrong date? It is not possible for any prosecutor to make an
allegation to a court to strike out his own case. No prosecutor will do
“She will not tell you the truth of the
matter. She cannot stand before me and say these things she has told
you. She is the one who forgot the date. I was trying to reach out to
her about the day of the sitting but there was no way.
The case was mentioned and I tried to
defend the case that she was on her way but the magistrate opened the
file and said the case was too long and that if she (Rachael) was still
interested, she could go back and make further arrest and bring him
(Bassey) back to court.
“When the matter was struck out, she
came later and I told her it had been struck out. I asked why she was
not in court and she said ‘somebody’ gave her another date. I told her
that was not the end of the case. I asked her to go back to the station
and that she could still get the man rearrested. I refuse to be provoked
this morning about what she told you.”
Asked about the N300,000 ‘settlement’
offer he allegedly made to the woman, the prosecutor said, “You are a
man. If your wife was raped, would you collect money? They (Rachael and
her husband) were the ones who came to me and said the family of the man
were begging with N300,000. How could I have gone to meet the other
party and told them to bring money?
“I told her that if they wanted to pay
her money, she should take it because the case had no substance and no
evidence. You said they raped you but you have no evidence; that was why
I told her to collect the money.”
The investigating police officer (Omoh),
who expressed surprise that the case had been struck out, has told
Rachael to get herself a dedicated lawyer. He has also told her that
anytime she wanted Bassey rearrested, he would make the arrest.
Bassey has refused to react to all the
allegations against him by Rachael. When our correspondent spoke with
him, he said he could only give a full account of what really transpired
the day Rachael followed him to get the clipper in a court and if he
was re-arraigned.
He said, “If they dare get me rearrested and charged to court, only then would I narrate everything that happened.
“She said I had been abusing her around
the neighbourhood and people are making jest of her. But she is the one
who has been spreading falsehood about me. The same people she has been
telling the story are the ones making jest of her.”
Asked if there was any kind of
relationship between them as being rumoured in their neighbourhood,
Bassey said none existed beyond the fact that he was Rachael’s
children’s barber.
The Executive Director of Esther Child
Rights Foundation, Mrs. Esther Ogwu, explained that there was the danger
that more victims of rape might never summon the courage to speak out
when they realise that cases of victims like Rachael never got resolved.
She said, “We were approached to take up the case by a sympathiser who heard about it and felt she might never get justice.
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the
justice  is being served in this case. We believe the prosecutor has a
lot to explain about how a case could be dismissed simply because the
plantiff who had never missed a court date did not appear.
“The question is, what did he tell the
court at the hearing which the victim and her husband did not have the
opportunity to attend because they were given a different date?
“At this point we can only call on the
police to make a rearrest and charge the suspect to court because if
cases like this are handled this way, the outside world would continue
to view us as a country where laws don’t matter.”
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