New Storybook: Justice For Tamara by Ajibola Bello
There are many anomalies in our society today, this story sounds a warning to parents, they should be careful who they allow their children to stay with. People have their own problems!!
JUSTICE FOR TAMARA is dedicated to every girl child in Africa and all over the world. Hope you all get to read this story, do not suffer molestation or any form of sexual abuse in silence, justice is available, Go Ahead, Seek Help!
A week after the wedding, honeymoon was sweet. Tosin couldn’t ask for more, they both had quality time together and indeed caught so much fun. Charles will be resuming back to work, she is resuming back to business too, wish they can have a little more time together.
‘Honey, time is going!’ Tosin called out as she set breakfast on the table for Charles.
‘I am almost ready dear’ Charles entered putting on his jacket
‘Honey, it’s your first day of resumption after our wedding and I don’t want anyone to complain that you are late’
‘True dear’ Charles replied drawing her close. ‘I wish the honeymoon lasts a little longer’
‘Me too, here is your tea. I’ll drop the lunch box in the car’
‘Oh thanks, it’s good to be married. At least I have something to show off to my single colleagues. Let me quickly gulp the tea, I’ll catch up with you’
Tosin on her way to work, she came out of the apartment walking towards her car. Tamara came in through the gate with a bucket to fetch water. She politely greeted Tosin.
‘Aunty good morning’
‘Good morning dear, how are you?’
‘I am fine’ she beamed with smiles
‘Where are you from? What happened to your water?’ Tosin asked
‘Our pumping machine is faulty, that’s why I came to fetch here’
‘Oh, where is your house? You greeted me like you knew me before, what’s your name?’
‘My name is Tamara and I live three houses away from here’ she pointed her finger towards her house.
‘Hmmn, Tamara! That’s a beautiful name’
‘Yes Aunty, I knew you before now since the time you used to come and visit Uncle, before you got married. I used to see you pass and I like you’
‘Interesting, I like you too Tamara. Nice meeting you. Do you stay with your parent?’
”No, I stay with my Aunt and her family’
‘I see, so why are you not in school?’
‘I have finished my Senior School Certificate Examination, just waiting for my admission into the University’
‘Alright then, you can always come here to fetch, hope to see you again”
‘Thank you Aunty, bye’ Tamara waved as she went in to fetch some water.
As Charles walked into the office premises, he was being greeted all over. He was busy exchanging pleasantries until he got to his office. Tony, his colleague was not on seat and he was about wondering why, when he remembered the general meeting with the CEO scheduled for that same morning. He dashed out to the conference room which was almost full, the meeting had started already. Everybody turned and gave a loud cheer as he entered. The CEO beckoned on him to take a seat and then cleared his throat,
‘Hmmn, welcome back Charles. Marriage is good on you, see how you have grown so fat in just one week. My regards to your wife, welcome again’ he concluded
‘Thank you Sir, it’s nice to be back’ Charles replied with a bow
The CEO went on to appreciate every team member mentioning their names one after the other, identifying the different impact their services have made to the company. His eyes glanced through the room even as he received gentle nods in response to his accolades. Getting to Charles, he fixed his eyes a little longer before he spoke
‘Congratulations Charles, you ‘ve been promoted. So you have a new portfolio now’
‘Thank you Sir’ he replied with a smile
‘I am expecting a better result from you, so I want Miss Bibi Benson to work with you. She is a combination of brain and beauty and I believe your duo will take this company to a greater height’
‘Sure Sir, we will try our best’ Charles and Bibi chorused
‘Okay, thank you all for coming and lest I forget, you are all getting your bonuses today. In fact, as I speak it is been transferred into your accounts. You all deserve the best’ the Boss concluded.
It was a welcomed development, especially to Charles. The outgoing year was tasking but he gave his best, wasn’t too surprised he got promoted. At the sane time, deep within him was a mixed feeling he couldn’t explain. As much as he felt like jumping up to rejoice, a part of him is signaling a caution like there is a danger ahead. He picked his phone to call Tosin,
‘hi love, how are you doing?’ She replied
‘Fine dear, guess what?’
‘No guessing, just spill please’ Tosin said
‘I got a promotion at work today, the very first day of resumption after our wedding’
‘Wow, that’s good news. We must celebrate this’
‘Of course, any plan?’
‘Yes, dinner at Sheraton’
“That’s a deal, will pick you up by 6pm’
It’s been four years that Mrs Akpan had her last baby, her fourth child and since then she had being cold to her husband’s sexual advances. She was well aware of Mr Akpan’s sexual escapades and promiscuity over the years and has vowed to zip up once her children are complete. She made the decision to let him be after catching him red handed in bed with other women including the last house help she dismissed some years ago. She eventually travelled to the village to bring a long distance niece Tamara to live with her and help her with the house chores. Mr Akpan’s quarrel with her became incessant, he wasn’t ready to cope with her sexual refusals and would always make demands as often as possible. Mrs Akpan wouldn’t bulge, their night quarrels are always predictable.
‘Move closer or when was the last time we had sex together’ he stretched over his hand to draw his wife closer in bed
‘Leave me alone, move closer to where? I already have four children for you, what else do you want’ Mrs Akpan protested
‘Okay, you have stopped bearing children, does that mean sex is over between us? Didn’t i tell you to go for family planning?’
‘Family planning? You can go and castrate yourself if you want, I am no longer interested’
‘You will sure regret what you are doing, I promise you that’ Mr Akpan threatened
‘You can go ahead and do your worst’ Mrs Akpan shrugged and continued, ‘when was the last time you showed us love in this house? You go out early in the morning and return midnights to demand for sex, is that how responsible father and husbands do? Pleaaase, let me be’ Mrs Akpan fired back.
‘You will sure regret this, I promise’ Mr Akpan replied as he turned off the bedroom light.
He couldn’t sleep, he laid still in bed not to arouse his wife. He was busy planning how he would hurt his wife and pay her back with meanness. An idea came, he smiled and gently sneaked out of bed.
Tamara sleeps alone in the guest room in her Aunt’ s house, except once in a while when they have visitors spending the night. She was fast asleep when someone sneaked beside her on the bed
‘Who is that’
She wanted to scream but a strong hand kept her mouth mute, and with the other hand, he ripped off her night gown and forced himself on her.
At 5am, the alarm rings. Mrs Akpan got up from the bed to say a little prayer. She picked up her phone to check the hottest gists on Facebook, some of her friends are already sharing the romantic time outs they had with their husbands.
‘Hmmn, fake world’ she murmured to herself. Her eyes went straight to the wall clock, 6:00 am. She is yet to hear Tamara’s hand in the kitchen banging the plates together.
‘Did she oversleep?’ she thought aloud as she got up and headed for the guest room. She called out Tamara’s name as she flunged the door open..
Her eyes went through the room in a flash, the bed was scattered with Tamara’s blood stained nightgown hanging on its edge. She could hear her sobbing from behind the wardrobe and went straight there,
‘Aunty, he raped…’ Tamara voiced out amidst her tears
‘Keep quiet’ Mrs Akpan shouted back at her. ‘Shut up your mouth, I don’t want to near anything from you and you must not say anything to anybody or else I will send you back to the village and you will never go to that University you desire again. Do you hear me?’
‘Yes Aunty’ she replied still sobbing
‘Now go inside the kitchen and wash the dishes’
Mrs Akpan boiled with fury, she rushed into her bedroom, Mr Akpan was up to prepare for work,
‘You are such a very useless man. do you think I don’t know what you did to that poor girl in the night. Shameless old fool’ she whispered into Mr Akpan’s face
‘I told you, you will regret your actions, didn’t I? You should even be thanking me for preferring her over prostitutes. At least both of us will be safe’ Mr Akpan replied with a mischievoius smile.
‘You are a shameless idiot, I am going to expose you to your family, shameless man’
Mr Akpan moved closer towards her and whispered, ‘Let me warn you, I am going to continue having my way with that girl whether you like it or not and I must not hear anything about it from anybody, my family or your family. Otherwise, you are out of this house and I am going to collect the car I bought for you and burn down that shop of yours, you hear me?’
‘Shameless man, are you threatening me? She snapped back into his face.
Charles’ new appointment had kept him busy and away from home most of the times. Even Tosin had started murmuring into his ears for neglecting her at home. Of course he can still handle that with a show of extra love and affection, his real challenge are the seductions and sexual harassment he faces at work daily from his female partner, Bibi. Her unrelenting advances are too frequent to resist, how he wish he could share his mind with Tosin.
‘Good morning dear’ Tosin’s voice interrupted his thoughts. She pretended to be asleep but had watched him lost in thoughts since he came in from the bathroom.
‘How are you dear, trust you slept well’ he replied in his usual cool voice
‘Yes, I really slept well. Is anything bothering your mind, you seem to be lost in thought’
‘Not at all dear, just thinking about solutions to today’s task at work’
‘It’s been long we saw a movie at the cinema, can we go this weekend please? Tosin asked whirling her arms around Charles
‘Yes, we can’
‘Yeah, a promise’ Charles replied planting a kiss on her cheek, grabbed his jacket and dashed out of the bedroom.
Tosin lay still in bed thinking about how marriage has changed so many things about her. It’s been six weeks after her wedding and she has not being going to work early. Grateful for the diligent staff who get the work done in her absence. These days she even feels tired almost every morning, getting up from bed is gradually becoming an herculean task.
‘Could it be pregnancy’ she thought aloud
‘that’s too early’ she thought. ‘It looks more like laziness’ she replied herself as she got out of bed, picked up her robe and entered the bathroom.
Tosin came out of her apartment and heard the tap running, she moved closer to find the bucket filled and running with no one in sight.
‘This looks like Tamara’s bucket’ she said walking towards the tap to close it. Then she saw her seated in one corner with her two arms folded on her kneels crying
‘Tamara’ she called. ‘What happened to you?’
Tamara could not talk, the more Tosin persuaded her to stop crying the more she cried, The previous night experience was too devastating to bear on her feeble heart. Tosin took her into her apartment and calmed her down. She couldn’t imagine a young girl crying so bitterly like this,
‘what could have happened’ she thought to herself.
‘Tamara, it is okay. Calm down and talk to me. What happened? Did anybody die?’
‘Tamara nodded her head sideways.
‘Okay, just talk to me. There must be a reason for these tears’ Tosin pleaded.
Tamara took a deep breathe and then began to unfold the scary event of the night, how her uncle came into the room midnight and raped her. And how her Aunty discarded her report as if nothing happened.
‘What? You mean he raped you’ Tosin screamed
‘Aunty, please don’t shout. She warned me not to tell anybody’ Tamara quickly added
Tosin drew Tamara into her arms as hot tears went down her cheeks. ‘How could the world be so wicked?’ Her mind went to her wedding night and how she cherished the love experience she shared with Charles. Every girl child looks forward to being cherished and not to be molested and raped, she could not even imagine the magnitude of pain Tamara was going through. She managed to pull herself together and faced Tamara.
‘It’s okay dear, you will be fine. If your Aunty is not ready to protect you, then we need to think of the way forward. What about your parents? Where are they?’ Tosin asked
‘My dad is late, my mum and brothers are far away in the village at Uyo’
‘You have to contact her so she can know the situation of things here. Do you have her phone number’
‘Yes I do’
‘Here is my phone, call her now’
Tamara collected the phone and dialed her mother’s phone number but her line was not reachable
‘I can’t get through’ she whispered out to Tosin
“Who then can you call, does any of your brothers have a phone to call?”
‘Yes, Felix has’
“Okay, go ahead and call him’
Tamara was able to reach her brother on the phone, although she didn’t disclose anything to him, she relayed the message that she will like to speak with their mother urgently and that she shouldn’t bother calling her Aunty because it’s personal. She told her brother the time and date she will be calling her again. Tamara dropped the call looking so worried.
‘What is it again Tamara?’ Tosin asked
‘If I tell my mummy what happened, she will come and take me back to the village and I won’t be able to go to the University again”
‘Don’t worry dear. You will still go to school. At the same time you cannot continue to suffer abuse in that house. You need to be strong and not loose courage’
‘Thank you Aunty’
‘Now cheer up, I’ ll get you something to eat’
Tosin’s mind was preoccupied all through the day with the incident that happened to Tamara, she felt a big burden in her heart to help her out of her predicament. Rape is not an incident she can look away from, especially when she knows the victim. She needed a solution fast, so she shared her burden with Charles while getting ready for bed.
‘Whaaat! This is unbelievable!’ Charles screamed
‘Dear, I was speechless too, felt so sorry for the girl. How can we help her?’ Tosin asked
‘Hmmn, unfortunately rape cases don’t always get a fair hearing in this part of the world. Often times, offenders walk away smiling while the victims bear the guilt and the shame’ Charles replied
‘That’s so sad’ Tosin whispered
‘The best thing to do now is to contact her mother to come and take her away from here, otherwise the abuse will continue’
‘You are right, we are on it already.. The mother needs to come and take her away, God will surely judge that evil man’ Tosin concluded
The relationship between Mrs Akpan and her husband got worse by the day, almost every night they quarrel. These days he is even frugal with his carefree lifestyle, some nights he returns home drunk and stinking all over. As far as she is concerned, he can do whatever he likes with his life, leaving him is not an option for now. Among her married siblings she is the wealthiest, her cosmetics business which her husband set up for her is really doing well. Even with Mr Akpan’s careless attitudes he still fulfils his financial obligations at home, although she knows it is because of his four children anyway. Still she can’t afford to forfeit all and end up with nothing if she leaves him. She can’t even file for a divorce, they were not properly married and even after four children he has refused to go and pay her bride price. Mr Akpan is an evil genius, he has being playing her for long. On one of those nights again, he came in late and pounced on his wife while sleeping. Mrs Akpan pushed him away and shouted at him.
‘what are you trying to do?’
‘Having sex with my wife of course’ he responded
‘You must be out of your mind! Is there no prostitute on the street? Shameless man!’
‘Oh, is that what you will say?’ Mr Akpan replied and stormed out of the room.
Tosin woke up with a loud bang on her front door, it’s just 5:10am and Charles is out of town on a work trip. ‘Who could that be early in the morning?’ she thought to herself as she listened again.
‘Aunty, please open the door’ she heard a faint voice behind the door
‘Aha, is that not Tamara’s voice?’ Without hesitation she jumped out of bed to open the door. Tamara rushed into her arms crying, ‘Aunty, he did it again! He beat me and did it again’.
Tosin couldn’t hold back her emotions, she wept sore holding Tamara tight in her arms. The girl was unconsolable, she didn’t even know where to start. She picked up her phone and dialled Charles line
‘Hi babe, I was just about calling you too’
‘Charles, he did it again’ Tosin cried out
‘Wait, wait, wait, who did what?” Charles asked
Tosin cried on, she couldn’t fight back her tears, Charles could hear her cries loudly from the other end
‘Tosin, please calm down and tell me whatever is going on’
‘Mr Akpan raped Tamara again’ she managed to voice out
‘Ah!’ Charles sighed.
Tosin pulled herself together to console Tamara, this time around she is not going to sit back and watch. She is taking the fight straight to the Akpan’s front door. She doesn’t care what happens, she is determined to protect and defend Tamara at all cost. Charles advised she take Tamara to the hospital first for medical care and also warned her not to go alone to the Akpan’s residence, the couple appear to be so mean and unpredictable.
Mrs Akpan got up in the morning as usual and headed for the kitchen, Tamara was nowhere to be found, storming into her room she was greeted with an empty space. Her bed was scattered and even shifted from its normal position, she looked round the house, Tamara could not be found, she called out her name, still no response. Then she went back inside to coifirm her suspicions.
‘What happened in the night?’ She confronted her husband. ‘Did you go in to that girl again, shameless idiot!’
‘Woman mind your words, its too early in the morning’ Mr Akpan fired back
‘I can’t find Tamara in the house, and I have seen your handiwork in her room already. If anything happens to that girl, you will be held responsible’ Mrs Akpan shouted at him
‘That is your cup of tea, if you like go and look for her. You are the one who brought her into this house, not me’
They kept quarrelling and exchanging words, Mrs Akpan refused to allow him go out unless he follows her to go and look for Tamara. They were still at it when Tosin and Ann knocked, Mrs Akpan walked to the door to open it.
‘Good morning Madam’ Tosin greeted. ‘I am Mrs Smith, came to see you and your husband. I leave around here too’
‘Good morning, come in and have your seat. How may we help you’ Mrs Akpan greeted coldly
‘We actually came to see you, and it is good that your husband is here too. I won’t be taking your time, so I will go straight to the point, we just came to clarify something’
‘Okay go ahead’ ‘Mr Akpan replied looking at his wife
Tosin continued, ‘I saw your girl Tamara and she told me some horrible things which I am finding very difficult to believe. By the way, where is she?’
‘I sent her on errand’ Mrs Akpan replied. ‘What exactly did she tell you?’
‘She told me your husband has being molesting her sexually at night, is that true Mr Akpan?’
He stood up in fury and stormed at Tosin, ‘what nonsense, you mean you came into my house to insult me, please leave now before something bad happens to you’
Tosin stayed calm, she wasn’t in any way intimidated by Mr Akpan’s explosion. Then she faced his wife, ‘Madam, I am so disappointed that you are aware of this abuse and yet chose to be an accomplice with your husband’
‘Keep quiet!’ Mrs Akpan cut her off. ‘What do you know? And why can’t you mind your own business?’
By this time Mr Akpan was really boiling with rage at Tosin, ‘will you leave my house now before I do something with you?’
‘What can you do? Tosin fired back. ‘Will you rape me like you do to Tamara, ehn? Shameless man’
‘Tosin take it easy’ Ann tried cautioning her
‘Are you talking to me like that?’ Mr Akpan threw away caution and slapped Tosin. Her reaction was spontaneous, he grabbed his shirt without thinking twice. She was adamant and prepared to drag him to any length for his assault. The house became rowdy, she was being rough handled by both husband and wife, Ann tried stopping the fight but to no avail. Tosin was shouting on top of her voices calling Mr Akpan names, soon neighbors began to gather,
‘what’s going on here?’ A neighbor asked
Tosin kept on shouting holding on to Mr Akpan’s shirt tightly, ‘rapist! You can never get away with this, you will surely rot in jail, rapist!’
The Akpan’s apartment became rowdy, Tosin couldn’t be pacified, one of the neighbors who didn’t really like Mr Akpan’s lifestyles had run down the street to get the police. Some minutes later, two policemen walked in to stop the chaos. One of them raised his voice,
‘Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen..’ Then turning to Tosin, ‘Madam, can you leave his shirt please’
‘You will all have to follow us to the station, I believe we are all civilised people, so let’s maintain order’ he concluded.
At the police station, Tosin stepped aside to call her husband, he needs to know about what was going on, not sure of when he would be coming back from his trip.
‘Hello dear’ she spoke panting
‘Hi love, are you okay’ Charles replied
‘I am at the police station’
‘For what? What happened?’
‘Mr Akpan slapped me, his wife too beat me’
‘He slapped my wife! No, I can’t take that, I’m taking the next flight home, I won’t allow anyone assault my woman like that and get away with it, it’s not possible’ Charles blurted out in anger.
‘Okay dear, safe trip’ Tosin concluded as she dropped the call.
As expected at the police station, Mr Akpan and his wife joined forces and denied all the allegations against them. He denied his sexual abuse on Tamara and even denied slapping Tosin, his wife also bore witness that non of such happened and that Tosin was a troublemaker who loves to poke nose in other people’s affairs. Tosin reported everything that happened according to Tamara and how Mr Akpan physically assaulted her when she confronted him with the allegations. Her allegations were almost dismissed due to lack of evidences except for Ann, Tosin’s friend who witnessed the assault which was even countered by Mrs Akpan who denied its occurrence. They were all there for hours dragging the issue when Charles arrived with his lawyer and demanded a suit against Mr Akpan for assaulting his wife and for raping a minor. In annoyance, Mr Akpan told him to go ahead and waste his money since there were no evidences to those allegations against him and that he is rest assured that the case will still end in his favor contrary to Charles expectations.
As the date for the court hearing drew near and both the complainant and the defendant prepare for the case, Tosin visited Charles lawyer, Barrister Thompson in his office with Tamara. He requested to see both of them for further enquiries before the hearing.
‘Madam you are welcome, how is your husband? This must be Tamara’ Barr Thompson asked.
‘Yes Sir, this is Tamara, my husband is fine. He sent his regards’ Tosin replied
‘Good morning Sir’ Tamara greeted
‘Good morning young lady, how are you?’
‘Fine Sir, Tamara replied
‘Okay Madam’ Barr Thompson continued, ‘I requested that both of you should come because I need to clarify few things. As you know the court hearing is scheduled for next week Thursday’
‘Yes, I know’ Tosin nodded in affirmation
‘Good, so how is Tamara doing?’
‘She is coping, trying to get over the trauma’
‘I see, does she stay with you and your husband now?’ Barr Thompson asked
‘No’ Tosin replied, ‘after the incident I took her to my Aunt’s place outskirt town for securiy purpose. She is a widow and stays alone with her three daughters. They are teenagers like Tamara and have being giving her all the necessary support’
‘That’s good’ Barr Thompson nodded turning to Tamara, ‘for how long have you stayed with the Akpans?’
‘Six years Sir’ she replied
‘In other words, since you were twelve’
‘How about your parents? Are they aware of the incident?’
‘Yes, my mum is now aware, my dad is late’
‘She is coming to court too’ Tosin added
‘Very well then, you know Madam’ turning to Tosin, ‘unlike in developed countries where there are strict measures against rape cases like this, our own law may not be that favorable to rape victims. However, I am going to try my best to ensure Tamara gets justice. Men like Mr Akpan don’t deserve a place in our society’
”Thank you Barrister, we are counting on your support’ Tosin shook hands with Barr Thompson and left with Tamara.
Mr Akpan appeared in court in a red outfit, his counsel Barr Ken Harris is a reknowned witty lawyer in town known for defending culprits and drug dealers in court. Tosin gave a deep sigh when he saw him came over to talk to Mr Akpan where he sat. Charles sat by her side holding her left hand, he took the day off from work in spite of his tight schedules to show his support. The whole courtroom was noisy until the Judge came in and there was silence everywhere. The court proceedings began immediately, Tamara was called up for questioning by Barr Ken, Mr Akpan’s counsel,
‘Can you tell this court your age, Miss Tamara’
‘I’m eighteen years’ Tamara replied calmly
‘How old were you when you came to live with the Akpans?’
‘I was twelve’
‘Since then who has being responsible for your schooling and upkeep?’
‘You mean Mr Akpan’
‘In other words, he’s being like a father to you’
‘So, how did you come about the rape story or is it just a frame up?’
‘One night last month, I was sleeping in my room when someone sneaked into my bed, covered my mouth with his hand, pinned me down and raped me” Tamara explained
‘Was your light on when it happened?’
‘No, the light was off’
‘How then did you know it was your Uncle?’
‘I just knew, he is the only adult man in the house and the doors were locked’
‘What if someone had sneaked in from outside?’
‘Objections my lord! He is leading my client’ Barr Thompson cuts in.
‘Objections overruled’ the Judge replied, ‘carry on with your questions’
‘Thank you my lord’ Barr Ken replied turning to Tamara again, ‘you are eighteen years and mature enough to have sex with consent, couldn’t it have been that you gave yourself to him willingly?’
‘Objections my lord!’ Barr Thompson cuts in again
‘Objections sustained!’ The Judge replied, ‘any more questions Barr Ken?’
‘No my lord, it’s okay for now’ he replied
Tosin was called up next to be examined, Charles squeezed her hand gently as she stood up and walked into the dock. Barr Ken stood up to examine her,
‘Mrs Tosin Smith, can you tell the court what you were doing at the Akpan’s residence on the 10th of this month’ he asked
‘I went there to confirn if truly Mr Akpan had been forcefully molesting Tamara’
‘You went there to confirm, could it be that you were not really sure of the story you heard?’
‘I was very sure’
‘How sure were you?’
‘When I saw Tamara crying on those two occassions and with the explanation she gave, I believed her”
‘Word of mouth?’
‘Yes, I believed everything she told me’
‘You said you were slapped by Mr Akpan?’
‘How come you were slapped when you only went there to confirm a story?’
‘It was in the process of asking Mr Akpan and his wife questions that he got up in fury and slapped me’
‘Were you invited to their house?’
‘Have they met you before?’
‘Don’t you think you went too far going into their residence to ask such questions when you were not invited’
‘I went there to talk with them not to be slapped’ Tosin replied with a harsh tone
Barr Ken turned to the Judge, ‘that is all for now, my lord’
Next to be called up was Mr Akpan, Barr Thompson stood by to examine him.
‘Mr Akpan can you tell this court how Tamara is related to you?’ Barr Thompson asked
‘She is a distant relative to my wife’
‘For how long has she stayed with you?’
‘Since she was twelve, now she is eighteen’
‘Is it true that on two different occasions you went to her room and sexually molested her?’
‘That is not true, I am a man of dignity’
‘You mean, you never at any occasion went into her room at night to rape her’ Barr Thompson asked again.
‘I never did. If I didn’t rape her since she was twelve, why will I rape her now?’ he defended himself.
‘What happened at your residence on the 10th of this month when Mrs Smith visited?”
‘She didn’t come visiting, nobody invited her. She only came to insult me and my wife and then wrongly accuse me of what I never did, I should be the one suing for assault’
“Did you at any point slap her?’
‘No, I did not?’
‘You didn’t slap her at all?’ Barr Thompson asked again
‘She was lying, I did not even lay any finger on her’ Mr Akpan replied with confidence
Barr Thompson turned to the Judge and said, ‘that is all for now my lord!’
‘I hereby adjourned the case to the 15th of next month for further hearing’ The Judge concluded and rose.
As the date for the second hearing drew near, some other people, family and friends heard about the case and were interested in its outcome. The court room was more crowded and rowdy than at the first hearing until the judge’s arrival muted the whole noise. The Judge, Liza Benjamin is one of the incorruptible and well celebrated judges on violence and sexual abuse cases to the extent that her verdict on any trial or case is often taken as final, with no further appeal.
‘Any other witness on this case?’ Judge Liza asked
Tamara was called up again to the dock to be examined by Barr Thompson,
‘Miss Tamara, can you tell this court the incident that happened to you some weeks back at your Aunt’s residence’
‘I was sleeping in my room one night when my Uncle…’
‘You mean Mr Akpan?’ Barr Thompson cuts in
‘Yes, Mr Akpan came into my room when I was sleeping and raped me”
‘Was there anybody with you in the room when it happened?’
‘No, there was nobody with us’
‘Did he force you to have his way with you or you willingly gave yourself to him?’
‘He forced himself on me’
‘Was that the first and the only time he raped you?’
‘It was the first time but not the only time’ Tamara answered with a wave of sadness.
‘Tell us about the other incident’ Barr Thompson probed further
Three weeks later, he came into my room again and did it’
‘Did you tell anybody about the incidents?’
‘Yes, I did, Aunty Tosin saw me after the first incident when I went to her house to fetch water. She gave me her phone to call my mum, but I couldn’t reach her’
‘Does your Aunt, Mrs Akpan know about the incident?’
‘Yes, after the first incident, the following morning she came to my room when I was crying, and as I was about reporting to her she said I should keep quiet, that if I should say anything to anybody she will not send me to the university again’ Tamara’s response generated a loud murmuring among the crowd
‘Order please!”The court clerk raised his voice.
Barr Thompson continued, ‘do you have any scratch on your body or anything you can present to this court as an evidence that you were raped by Mr Akpan’
‘Yes, I have’ Tamara replied.
The crowd murmured again, but this time silently. Mr Akpan adjusted himself on his chair and leaned forward, he could sense a danger ahead.
Barr Thompson paused a little before he continued, by this time all eyes were on Tamara eager to know what’s next.
‘What is it Tamara?’ Barr Thompson asked, ‘what evidence do you have as a proof to this court that your uncle, Mr Akpan sexually abused you on two different occasions?’
‘This, a camera’ Tamara dipped her hand inside her pocket and brought out a small black device with an open lens’
‘haa!’ The whole crowd lamented simultaneously.
‘Order please!’ The clerk raised his voice again.
Barr Thomson moved closer to Tamara and collected the camera, ‘how did you get this?’
‘Aunty Tosin gave it to me’
Tamara had a flashback and narrated how after the first incident, Aunty Tosin took her in and consoled her, she gave her some food to eat and while she was eating, she asked..
‘Tamara can you operate a camera?’
‘A camera? Why did you ask Aunty?’ Tamara replied
‘See this’ Tosin brought out the small device and showed it to Tamara. ‘I have this feeling that every night before you sleep, you should set it in your room, just in case your Uncle attempts to rape you again’
‘That’s good’ Tamara’s face lightened with joy. ‘But how did you get this Aunty’
‘Oh, I got it back then in College. I did some projects that involved capturing how pests like rat infests our homes. So what we did was to set a prey for them and set up cameras at night to catch them in the act and it worked’
‘Really’ Tamara exclaimed
‘Yes, let me show you how to set it. You must keep it very well and also ensure you set it at a place in your room where it can not be easily seen or detected’
‘The good thing about the device is that it has a 360 degrees view and can also record voices. Don’t worry about the battery, it’s original and it lasts very long. Here are extra batteries thou, ensure to keep them well’
‘This is really nice’ Tamara collected the device and looked through it.
‘One last thing, make sure your light is on!’
‘Alright Aunty, I should be able to handle it’ Tamara thanked Tosin and left. From that same night she experimented on the device, setting it at different locations to get the appropriate view of the entire room. She even sang to check the sound and her voice was recorded just as she was told. So every night before she sleeps, she will set the device at a good location, just in case a human rat enters. On the night of the second incident, Tamara was still awake but lay quietly in bed. Since the first attack, the trauma keeps her awake for most of the night, she jumps up at any slight movement around her, even if it be a cockroach. She would have locked the door but her Aunt once warned her never to lock the door so she can have access to her even in the night.
The light was on, immediately Mr Akpan opened the door, she jumped up from the bed. Since she already knew his mission, Mr Akpan closed up with her and pinned her to the wardrobe.
‘Why Uncle, why are you doing this to me’ Tamara whispered as she sobbed
‘You should ask your Aunty who has been starving and refusing me my sexual rights all these while’ Mr Akpan replied tightening his grip on her
‘Uncle please’ she pleaded
Mr Akpan dealt her a blow on the face and then hurled her feeble body on the bed.
‘Hmmn’ Barr Thompson sighed. ‘Can I have the camera please?’
Tamara handed over the device to Barr Thompson who then turned to the judge, ‘My lord, even thou the contents of this digital device are not pleasing for the eyes to behold, still we ask for your permission to project it as an evidence for this case’
‘Go ahead’ Judge Liza said
The whole court room was quiet, nobody could seat down anymore except Mr Akpan who later fell from his seat when he saw the evil he committed. Tamara’s mother got up in annoyance rushed forward and plugged her teeth into Mr Akpan’s shoulders. The court was in an uproar and it took like fifteen minutes before everywhere was calmed.
Barr Thompson stood up again, ‘my lord, I will like to call up the doctor who conducted a test on Tamara after the rape as a witness to this case’
‘Go ahead please’ Judge Liza replied adjusting her goggles
‘Dr Roberts, can you tell this court your findings on the sexually abused patient you cross examined six weeks ago at your hospital, 5th of March to be precise’ Barr Thompson asked.
‘Okay, yes’ Dr Roberts cleared his throat. ‘On the 5th of March, Mrs Tosin Smith brought Tamara to the hospital for medical examination. I was able to conduct some tests on her which confirmed she was raped. We found some sperm specimen in her vagina which we collected for further examination’
‘Thank you Dr Robert. The specimen you collected on Tamara, how useful is it for this case?”
‘Very useful, if the court permits we will like to collect some sperm specimen from Mr Akpan to confirm if it matches the ones we found on Tamara or not’
Barr Thompson turned to the judge, ‘my lord, should we go ahead with the test?’
‘Objection my lord!’ Barr Ken jumped up from his seat as if woken from a deep sleep.
‘Objection sustained!’ Judge Liza said. ‘As a matter of fact, I have enough evidence here’
‘Thank you my lord’ Barr Thompson bowed and returned to his seat.
‘I have heard all sides on this case, the judgement is adjourned to Friday, meanwhile the accused, Mr Akpan should be detained in custody till then, I rise! Judge Liza rose and walked out of the courtroom.
Tamara’s rape case did generated a city wide awareness and uproar, all thanks to the media. Since the last hearing where she brought out the camera device which recorded Mr Akpan on the act, so much dust have been raised on sexual abuse cases and finding justice for the victims. Some other victims also found courage to open up on their own experiences of molestations pointing accusing fingers at their abusers. On the adjourned day of judgement, before daylight a crowd had gathered outside the court premises, newsmen and journalists also came in large numbers to witness the final day of the case. The security around the court was tight, Tamara’s entrance into the court was escorted by the police and she wasn’t allowed to grant any interview to the teeming media personnels who stood by the door. There was a loud uproar among the crowd when Mr Akpan was brought in with the police van, some mobs had wanted to bully him but for the armed security men around him, they could not succeed. Few people were allowed into the courtroom and everywhere became silent as Judge Liza entered by 10:25 am.
Before she commenced with the judgement, Barr Ken rose to plead for mercy on behalf of Mr Akpan asking the court to temper justice with mercy because he was a first offender and that it was the breakdown with his wife that pushed him to commit the offence, his plea generated a loud murmuring within the court that showed it was not in any way accepted.
Judge Liza stated a 2-count charge against Mr Akpan: sexual molestation or abuse and physical assault, which he was guilty of both. She stated that no man has a justifiable reason in court for sexually molesting or abusing any female, she then warns that people should be informed that the rule of law is now heavy on offenders, ignorance will not be an excuse before the court of law.
Mr Akpan got a twelve years jail sentence for sexual abuse without the option of fine and for physical assault, N250,000 to be paid to Mrs Tosin Smith.
Months later, Tamara got admission and was sponsored to the University by Mr and Mrs Smith to study law and she graduated with distinction five years after.