- Blessing (surname withheld) is a young lady who got into a relationship with a young man (Mathew). There was a promise of marriage by Mathew which did not materialise before Blessing got pregnant for Mathew. She was delivered of a girl child, and Mathew and his parents took the Child from her and left under the custody of his mother. Mathew does not live with his mother, thus the child lives with Mathew’s Mother without affection from both parents. All efforts by Blessing to visit and even behold her child was frustrated by Mathew’s mother. Clothes and toys bought for the Child by Blessing were thrown away by Mathew’s mother. The child attained the age of two, and Blessing longed to carry her child and show her motherly love and care, but was denied that right. Blessing approached a Lawyer who filed a suit at the Magistrate Court, Ikorodu for custody of her child, but instead of getting reprieve, Blessing was getting more frustrated as the suit was making no head way after a very long period despite the fact that Blessing had spent much money on the case. When she could no longer afford to provide money for the case as constantly demanded by the Lawyer, the Lawyer demanded that Blessing should pay in kind or he will drop the case. Blessing who has learnt a lesson from her previous relationship which led to her present agony, refused the Lawyer’s demand, and as threatened, the Lawyer ordered that she come and collect her case file. In her state of frustration and agony, some women brought her to CRACO office in March, 2016. CRACO took up her case, and by July, 2016, CRACO was able to help her get custody of her child from Mathew and her mother. In a Judgment entered by the Honourable Magistrate at Court 1 Ikorodu, on the 13th day of July, 2016, Custody of the 2-year old Gabriella was given to Blessing while the child’s father Mathew was given access to the Child. It was a happy moment for Blessing when her daughter was handed over to her in open court. She remains grateful to CRACO.
- NB: Please note that it is not any parent that comes to CRACO for child custody that gets custody. CRACO first considers in whose custody the best interest of the child will be more guaranteed. It may be the father, it may be the mother. There is no law that states that custody of a child must be given to the mother as some people tend to believe. However, CRACO advocates strongly that custody of a child of tender age should be given to the mother, especially when the child is a female, while the father should be given unhindered access to the child as well as provides for the education and general welfare of the child. Experience has shown that no person can care for and love a child like the biological mother of the child. Most of the cases reported to CRACO on daily basis on child abuse, child exploitation, child torture, child cruelty, etc are found out to be children in the custody of grand mothers, step mothers, sisters, cousins etc. We have also handled cases where a father sexually assaulted, molested and raped his own daughter under his custody. We fought for Blessing to have custody of her daughter while Mathew has access because from the overall circumstances of the case, we are convinced that the best interest of two-year old Gabriella will be most guaranteed under the custody of Blessing. We make them part of the family of CRACO and from time to time, we check on her and the child to ensure the child is being properly cared for. Note that it is possible to deny both parents custody of their child if they are shown to be irresponsible.
CHILD SEXUAL ASSAULT AND MOLESTATION
- Precious is a 15 years old pretty girl. She came to spend her school holiday at her aunt’s house in Anifowoshe area of Ikeja. A young man called Godwin who should be in his late twenties or early thirties swore that he can not allow Precious to enjoy her holiday unless she allows him to have s*x with her. The little girl refused and this young man has been sexually assaulting her, touching her sexually and in one occasion forcefully kissed her. Sometimes he invites her to come to his room to watch film. Sometimes when she goes to the bathroom or toilet the young man follows her. Precious did not know how to tell her aunt about this, but kept doing all she can to resist the sexual advances of this young man. On the 23rd day of August, 2016, while Precious was going to fetch water, the young man followed her with his sexual assault and molestation; and not being able to bear it any longer, Precious had to insult and embarrass him publicly and the man responded by beating her and slapping her severally. This attracted the attention of her aunt who intervened, but the young man insulted and told her she can do nothing. At this point Precious had to open up to her aunt. Consequently the aunt reported the matter to CRACO. On investigation, we found out that the said young man is notorious for sexually assaulting and rapping underaged girls, and always go scot free because most parents are scared of going to the police as they want to avoid “police wahala”. As a result, the young man continued his nefarious acts undeterred and even have the gut to challenge parents of his victims. We knew that if nothing is done to check this young man, many young girls within that vicinity are in trouble. CRACO immediately wrote a petition against the young man to the Area Commander of Area “F” Command, Ikeja, and the matter was immediately referred to the human right section of the Command. On the 1st day of September, 2016, CRACO led some Police Officers from Area “F” Command to N0. 23 Araromi Street, Anifowoshe, Ikeja, where the youngman resides and effected his arrest. He was detained for a day, and upon his plea that he was writing WAEC Exam, we did not want to obstruct his exams by having the police charge the case to court , so we asked him to apologise to Precious and obtain her forgiveness. He knelt down and begged Precious for forgiveness. Precious having accepted his plea and having forgiven him, he was made to write undertaking never to molest or sexually assault Precious or any other girl within that community or else where. He wrote the undertaking, which Precious read and approved. He undertook to thenceforth be of good behaviour and respect the rights of girls, failing which he will be arrested the second time and there will be no more leniency.
- We encourage parents and guardians not to keep quiet when cases like this are known to them. Don’t wait until your child is finally rape before you raise alarm. When you notice incidents of sexual assault on a child, raise alarm and always encourage your children and wards to do same. If afraid of reporting to the police, just report to us and we will take over from there and the “Police Wahala” will be on us.