Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Uju Ohanenye, has instituted a lawsuit against an Enugu couple, Mr Ifeanyi Enwelum and Mrs Christabel Enwelum, over the defilement of their nine-year-old daughter.
Counsel to the minister, Mr Chuma Oguejiofor, told newsmen on Saturday in Enugu that the suit, numbered E/987/2023, was filed at the Enugu State High Court to enforce the fundamental rights of the minor.
According to Oguejiofor, the suit is seeking six prayers from the court.
“First, a declaration that the minor is entitled to respect for the dignity of her person and should not be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment by the respondents.
“Second, a declaration that Mr Enwelum’s carnal knowledge of the minor between Jan. 2022 and June 2023 constituted an infringement of her right to dignity.
“Third, a declaration that the respondents’ attempt at compromising and sweeping earlier charge, Number MEN/319C/2023 under the carpet, was against the law.
“That taking the minor to their residence, Number 13/15 Onoh Crescent GRA, Enugu, to live with them as if nothing had happened constituted mental, emotional or psychological torture for the minor.
“We are also seeking an order of the court that the applicant in the person of the Minister of Women Affairs and the Ministry take immediate custody of the minor and cater for her needs henceforth.
“Fifth prayer is a court order restraining the respondents by themselves or through their agents or privies from having anything whatsoever to do with the minor till she reaches the age of 21 years.
“The sixth prayer is that respondents be made to pay N10 million damages jointly and severally,’’ Oguejiofor said.
Mr Enwelum, step-father of the minor, reportedly had several unlawful carnal knowledge of her between Jan. 1, 2022 and June 10, 2023 at his 13/15 Onoh Crescent, GRA Enugu residence in Enugu North Local Government Area.
The minor’s biological mother, Mrs Christabel Enwelum, was reported to be negligent as she did not protect her daughter from repeated penetration of her vagina.
The penetrations were confirmed by Dr Samuel Ndukwu, medical practitioner at the Nigerian Police clinic, Enugu.
A bail earlier granted Mr Enwelum by an Enugu Magistrate’s Court caused public outcry making the minister to query the rationale behind it.
The minister queried the rationale for the bail considering the nature of the crime and the spate of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in the country, especially in Enugu State.
At a news conference on Oct. 17, the minister said the Ministry would take up legal action against the couple to ensure that the minor gets justice as well as serve as deterrent to others who might want to toe the same line.
“This minor has been molested severally by her stepfather who has deflowered her and given her diseases as confirmed at the hospital and by the lawyer and mother of the girl.
“The matter was taken to court, but unfortunately, a magistrate released the man on bail.
“We want to know why he was released in spite of grave allegations made against him simply because the minor’s mother cried that she did not want her husband to be jailed,’’ the minister told the October news conference.
“What about the voiceless girl? What about the torture and emotional pains the girl went through and threat not to disclose the molestation?” she queried.
“We are suing the woman for negligence. If she was not negligent, this girl would not have suffered this thing for a long time,’’ the minister stressed.