Ebonyi govt moves to cover up alleged governor’s aide rape case

Published date: 12/04/2017

The Ebonyi State Government has denied any incidence of alleged rape by the Technical Assistant to the Governor on the New Media, Mr. Francis Nwaze.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Emmanuel Uzor, said the government believed it was a case of blackmail, adding that it was only being celebrated by members of the opposition party.

Our correspondent had reported that Nwaze and an undergraduate of the Ebonyi State University, Esther Odinakachi, were friends on Facebook.

Odinakachi was said to have asked the Governor Umahi David’s aide for help to defect from the All Progressives Congress to the Peoples Democratic Party.

The suspect reportedly invited her to his office for a discussion.

After a brief meeting on the appointed day, Odinakachi asked to leave when it became dark.

When the social media friends met for another discussion the following day, Nwaze was alleged to have driven her to his house where the alleged rape occurred.

While the undergraduate student insisted that she was raped, the governor’s aide denied having any sexual contact with her, saying he was being blackmailed.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Odah Loveth, had on Thursday confirmed that the matter was being investigated at the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department.

However, on Sunday, the police spokesperson called our correspondent, saying she could not remember ever speaking with him.

She also noted that she had checked her call records and could not find any trace of our correspondent’s phone number to show they spoke.

“I have searched my phone and didn’t see any trace of speaking with anyone from Lagos to confirm a matter. The person (Nwaze) was just arrested yesterday (Saturday) and he is in custody as I am talking to you now. I wonder how I can confirm a matter before the arrest.

“The issue is that I have not been aware of that case. I called the Officer-in-Charge of SARS this morning (Sunday) and he told me that the guy was arrested yesterday for allegedly raping a girl; they even came to release him on bail, but they refused for now because a lot of people are interested,” she said.

Our correspondent sent a snapshot of his call history to her on a social media application, Whatsapp, to prove she spoke with PUNCH Metro.

The victim, Odinakachi, told our correspondent on Sunday that she led SARS operatives to Nwaze’s house where he was arrested.

She said, “He lied to you that he didn’t touch me. If he never touched me, how did I know his house? Even though the incident happened late in the night and I was helpless because of the reckless way he drove, I was able to identify the location. But I don’t know the address. He was arrested around 10pm. When he was arrested, he started making calls to the state governor to intimidate me.

“He thought he could take advantage of me because I am a student. His family members have been begging me, but I have refused to back down. I have a lot of evidence against him.”

She claimed that the result of a labouratory test conducted on her showed there was forceful penetration.

When our correspondent called back the state police spokesperson, Loveth, for a confirmation of the suspect’s arrest, which she had mentioned earlier, she said she could not confirm it.

The governor’s CPS, Uzor, said the government did not have any record of the case being reported to the law enforcement agencies.

He said, “There was no report of such an incident to the government or the security agencies. We read about it on Facebook and then The PUNCH. It was your paper that informed us. I am not aware that he was arrested by the police. I spoke with him yesterday (Saturday).

“This is a government that believes in human rights. If this (rape) truly happened, she should have explored the option of the office of Her Excellency, the wife of the state governor, to tell her story. The wife of the governor has been an advocate of such cases, whether sexual or otherwise. We also have the Ministry of Women Affairs and Youth Development.

“Personally, I believe if such a thing happened, the victim should have come to the government to let us know about it. As it stands now, I don’t have any case of rape. Whatever is happening in that case is shrouded in mystery. There is no proper channel to link the government with what is happening.

“When I first read it on Facebook, I called Nwaze to know what really happened. From what he said, it is a case of blackmail because of the way it is being celebrated. It is being celebrated by the opposition. So, I see it as one of the efforts to silence a voice that has been terrorising them. If he was arrested, I am not aware. If he raped anybody, I am not aware. And that is the position of the governor.”

When our correspondent called the suspect, Nwaze, his line indicated it had been switched off.

Source: PUNCH

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