By Joseph Kingston, Calabar
Residents of Calabar, the Cross River state capital, have reacted angrily to the defilement of an 11-year-old girl by four men along the Murtala Mohammed Highway, adjacent the New State Secretariat bus stop in Calabar, on Tuesday night.
Reports say the victim, now under the custody of the State Housing Police Station, Calabar, was brought from Akwa Ibom state as a baby nurse by a pregnant woman. She later accused the young girl of being a witch and chased out into the streets.
The girl in question had no option than to roam the streets since she had no relative to report to or seek help from, until she fell into the hands of rapists who took turns to rape her.
Our reporter further gathered that the immediate past commissioner for culture and tourism in the state, Mr. Eric Anderson, rescued the lad from being raped to death.
Explaining what happened through his telephone line, Mr Anderson, who is now Chairman, Environmental Task force Committee, said, “while driving at night along the Calabar Highway around the State Secretariat, I noticed a broken-down vehicle carelessly abandoned by the highway. I felt abandoning a vehicle at that spot could lead to fatal accident particularly at night.
“So, I stopped by to make logistics for the car to be removed from the road, as soon as I stopped, I noticed a group of four adult men, queued at the Secretariat bus stop at about 9:30pm. Inquisitive, I called out to them to know what they were doing there, only to sight a little child lying on the ground.
“I inquired who the child was and they told me that it was a homeless boy child who always comes there to take shelter. I wasn’t satisfied, so, I reached out to my touch light and pointed to the scene, and I was shocked at the sight- a young little girl, aged about 11 was lying helplessly and was being gang raped by the four male adult, who took turns to add more mystery to her life and all she had faced in life.”
He said he rescued the girl and took her the State Housing Divisional Police Station, Calabar, and that the police later picked up one of suspects.
Some members of the public, who spoke to our reporter, called on the state government to do something about the rising number of streets children.
Also speaking, a resident who gave her name as Peace Joseph, urged law enforcement agencies to immediately arrest the lady who sent the teenager to the streets to suffer such life-threatening molestation and charged government to “set up a task force to rehabilitate street children.”
On his part, Barr James Ibor, the national coordinator of a non-governmental organisation, Basic Rights Council Initiative, BRCI, said his group was ready to take up the matter legally but expressed surprise that a responsible government would allow the streets of major city like Calabar to be an abode for street children and all forms of criminality.
“The issue of street children is worrisome, and I am surprised that government would allow this to happen. We will take up the matter to its logical conclusion,” Ibor stated.