By Isaac Olamikan, Senior Correspondent, Benin
On Thursday, August 1st, 2019, a magistrate court in Benin City jailed a 53 year old herbalist, John Alonge, for impregnating and killing his 17 year old daughter, Gift.
Here is Priscilla Usiobaifo, the Founder and Executive Director, Brave Heart Initiative (BHI), a youth focused and woman’s right organisation(NGO) based in Igarra, Akoko Edo Local Government Area of Edo State, which initiated the case as she narrated how justice was achieved.
“Gift Alonge’s case is a very peculiar, sad and tragic case. But we thanked God for how things turned out today. Sometimes you are told that there is no hope for the poor man. But we have seen how resilience can prove to be worthwhile.
“This case got to us in December, 2018, and we initiated intervention. Two of our senior programmes officers were handling the matter. Rhoda Braimoh was actually the case manager. On January 16th, 2019, they were heading to court in Benin from Akoko Edo Local Government Area when an accident occurred and unfortunately we lost four persons that day in that accident. Those we lost were Promise Ezekiel, our advocacy officer, Gift Alonge, the sexual abuse victim, Mr. Ukere Adagbogu, the maternal uncle of Gift and Mr. Paul Opashi, the driver of the vehicle in which they were travelling.
“On January 19, 2019, three days after the accident, Rhoda, who was in the intensive care unit at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, also gave up making the casualties five. But thank God that we had a survivor, Mr. Roland Aiyejina, who is the head of the vigilante. He survived the accident. A week later the defence team had to present their case and their was a change of plea by the accused.
“We had to start the case afresh. To the glory of God we were able to present four witnesses. We had the medical doctor who examined Gift in December, we also had two investigating police officers – one from the Ososo Police Division and the other from the state Criminal Investigation Department at the state police headquarters in Benin. Lastly, we had the head of the vigilante. He was very instrumental to this case.
“The case was reported to him and he took the matter to the palace of the Olososo of Ososo. It was because of the recalcitrant nature of the accused that the Olososo ordered that the matter should be handed over to the police. Roland was also in court as a witness.
“Today, I am happy that there was no option of fine in the judgment. I have had a lot of favourable court judgments where there was option of fine ruling. For me, this judgment is a big consolation and a plus to the judiciary.
“I know that Promise, Rhoda, Gift and all the others that died may not resurrect but the judgment was a consolation that death did not stop justice.”