One night in June 2011, in a quiet neigbourhood in Ajangbadi, Egbeda area of Lagos, a 35-year old man sold his soul to the devil. While the residents slept peacefully, Adeleke Adetayo, who lived in a small apartment with his two children, woke up his first daughter, 13-year-old Bola (not real name), and asked her to pull off her pants.
That night, Adeleke, a commercial bus driver, raped his daughter as the little girl cried in agony.
“Blood was coming out from my body. He used a white singlet to clean it. I was crying but he told me to stop so that the landlord would not hear. My sister was in the room at the time. My father started sleeping with my younger sister last year,” the girl told our correspondent as she looked down at her toes.
Bola’s younger sister, Tolu (not real name), is just 10 years old.
In any African culture, sleeping with one’s child is the most abominable form of incest. But once in a while, reports of such incidents come up.
Such traumatic experience most times leaves a very damaging effect on the abused child and it may take substantial effort by specialists to make such child live a normal life.
The case of Adeleke’s daughters will bring tears to many eyes.
Unlike their peers who have the love of their parents and live normal lives of going to school and coming back home to the warm embrace of their parents, Bola and Tolu close from school every day with the trepidation of what awaits them at home.
They rarely have good food to eat as their father barely provide for their feeding when he comes back from his commercial driving job.
Their mother moved out in 2012, leaving them at the mercy of a predatory father who rarely had time for the children’s welfare.
The children’s mother, Kemi, spoke with our correspondent on the telephone on Saturday.
Her voice shook as she expressed shock at what her husband had done to their daughters.
She told Saturday PUNCH, “I moved out last year because it became clear I was not safe in his house anymore. My children and I were suffering. He was not taking care of us in anyway. We rarely had food to eat.
“He would beat me at the slightest provocation. When the beating was too much and it got to the stage where my mother was the one bringing food for us to eat, I took my children to live with my mother and I moved to Ibadan.
“But when my husband learnt about where my children were, he went to take them from there. I had no idea that while I was with him, my husband was already sleeping with his own children.
“I have not been able to eat anything since yesterday that I was informed about what that man did to my daughters. I am really sad.”
Did Kemi starve her husband of sex when she was still with him?
She replied, “Sir, you need to understand that my husband was the kind of person who wanted sex every day. After two children, should we still be acting like children when it comes to sleeping with each other?
“He would ask for sex almost every day and anytime I said no, he would beat me up. Sometimes, he would pour urine on my head just to humiliate me for turning him down. He called me all sorts of names.
“I was a hairdresser, but he said I should stop the work, because he thought I was prostituting myself in the process. He called me prostitute at the slightest provocation. All these were the reasons I decided to leave him. I have seen my daughters a number of times since I left their father’s house, but they never told me about what he was doing to them.”
When our correspondent spoke with Kemi, she was still in Ibadan at the time, promising to come for her children the following day.
Asked what she would say to her husband when she saw him, Kemi said, “I don’t want to see that man again. I just don’t want to lay my eyes on him. That man is the devil himself.”
On Monday, Kemi finally came for the children who were kept in custody of the Ikotun Police Division, pending the outcome of the test conducted on them at the Igando General Hospital and their father’s arraignment.
She broke down in tears as she pleaded to take them with her.
When our correspondent saw the two children, they did not seem to understand what was happening.
The older victim spoke quietly, looking at her toes the whole time.
The young girl explained that she did not know what their father did with the white underwear he used to clean her up when he forced himself on her.
She said, “I don’t know what he does with the singlet. Every time he rapes me, he uses the singlet to clean me up. He does it like once in a week.
“Anytime I don’t allow him to do it, he sleeps with my sister instead but he would not give me money for food.”
The older girl said she was crying after her father refused to give her money for feeding after turning him down one particular day. A neighbour saw her and asked what the problem was, she told the neighbour the truth.
The neighbour placed an anonymous call to a woman she knew in a not-for-profit organisation, who in turn informed Mrs. Esther Ogwu, founder of the Esther Child Rights Foundation.
On Friday, June 5, 2013, the police were informed and Adeleke was apprehended by men of the Ikotun Police Division.
Adeleke did not utter a single word of denial.
“It is true I was sleeping with them. Sometimes, I just have the urge to do it. When I cannot control myself, I sleep with them,” he said in a tape recorded by the NGO officials who first confronted him.
These were the words Adeleke offered in defence when he was asked by Ogwu, the police and his landlord, why he slept with his two young daughters.
Our correspondent visited Adeleke’s landlord, Mr. Amos Omooye, a pastor, who magnanimously gave an apartment in his house to Adeleke and his wife to live in for free.
Omooye told our correspondent, “Adeleke has been living in my house for the last 13 years. I never suspected he could do something as heinous as this.
“I had no idea he was doing that to her daughters whom I christened. They were born in this house.
“During one of the evangelical outreach programme of my church years ago, I met Adeleke and his wife living in a very terrible uncompleted building. I had to take them in to live in my house without paying. They have been living here ever since.”
Omooye said Adeleke once made effort to get a rented apartment, but was kicked out by the landlord of that house because he and his wife fought endlessly.
The pastor said, “I took them back in when they were kicked out. I could probably have seen signs of what he was doing to his daughters if not because of a terrible illness I had since 2011. I was bedridden for much of the last two years, which is the period he was sleeping with the kids.
“But I recall that in the last few months, the older daughter was always crying. I called her one day and asked what was wrong. She said the father was treating them badly. I asked if the two girls wanted to see their grandmother, they said yes and I facilitated a visit to the woman.
“They later came back with clothes, food and other things. I never for once thought that the children were going through something that terrible. When the police came here to arrest Adeleke, I asked if it was true he was sleeping with his children, he said ‘yes’. I could not believe it, I was shocked.”
Ogwu, who has been handling the children’s case since Adeleke’s act was unearthed, told our correspondent that the mother had initially been apologetic about taking custody of her children instead of them being handed over to government officials for rehabilitation.
She told our correspondent, “Even though I have seen cases like this before, it still surprises me that with the abundance of brothels around, a man can still take his own children and rape them, not once but over a period of two years.
“When I asked him why he did it, Adeleke simply said, ‘I just like doing it with them anytime I have the urge’. I was shocked. At the moment, we cannot rule out the option that he probably was sleeping with the children for fetish reasons.
“It is also sad that the mother, who could have noticed what was happening to the children, did not when she was still with the father. You have to understand that the rape started when she was still with the man.
“This is why parents need to maintain a cordial relationship and communication with their children so they will have the courage to confide in them.
“My organisation only counsels parents on ways to prevent the abuse of their children, we usually leave the victims’ counseling part to the government. This is why we are planning to hand these children over to the government.”
Ogwu said counseling helps to improve the chances of young victims like Adeleke’s children to live normal lives.
But she added that even at that, the memory of the molestation they had gone through would likely live with them for the rest of their lives.
Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Ngozi Braide, said Adeleke’s case had been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department.
“He is going to be charged to court as soon as possible,” she said.
Adeleke was indeed charged to court on two counts of defilement in a family court at Ikeja Chief Magistrate’s Court, Lagos.
Before his case was assigned, our correspondent met a woman, said to be Adeleke’s girlfriend at the court premises.
“To say the truth, when I asked Adeleke if he indeed did it, he admitted he did it. But what has happened has happened. The devil can use anybody,” the woman said.
Nigeria has not set up a database for paedophiles as is the case in some developed countries. This may make it difficult to track multiple offenders who are often let off the hook after out-of-court settlement by families.
A report by The PUNCH in April revealed that victims’ families often opt to settle out of court in order to put the shame of the incident behind them.
Unlike the often-reported cases of children being raped by outsiders or neighbours, Adeleke preyed on his vulnerable daughters.
It may never be known the extent of the damage that has been done to the lives of Bola and Tolu.
In the meantime, the family court has ordered that the children should be transferred to a juvenile home at Idi-Araba, Lagos for a period of three months.