The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Uju Ohanenye, has instituted a suit against Enugu-based couple, Mr. Ifeanyi Enwelum and Mrs Christabel Enwelum, for alleged fundamental right breach and sexual defilement of their nine-year-old daughter.
The suit, number E/987/2023 filed at the Enugu State High Court, seeks for the ministry to take custody of the nine-year-old (name withheld) and for the couple to pay N10m damages among others.
Enwelum, stepfather of the minor, between January 1, 2022, and June 10, 2023 at 13/15 Onoh Crescent, GRA Enugu, allegedly had several unlawful carnal knowledge of the minor.
The minor’s biological mother, Mrs. Christabel Enwelum, was said not to have protected her daughter in the sexual assault as confirmed by Dr Samuel Ndukwu, a medical practitioner at the Nigerian Police Clinic State Headquarters, Enugu.
The counsel to the minister, Chuma Oguejiofor, said that the suit seeks to enforce the fundamental human rights of the minor as well as stand as a public interest matter meant to instill decency and morality.
Oguejiofor, who said that the fundamental human rights and public interest suit filed on November 17, 2023 was yet to be assigned a date for hearing, noted that the suits sought six prayers from the court.
“First, a declaration of the court that the minor, who is but about nine years old is as a citizen of Nigeria entitled to respect for the dignity of her person and should not be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment by the respondents whether acting by themselves or by their agents/privies as enshrined in section 34(1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (As Amended).
“Second, a declaration of court that the first respondent (Ifeanyi Enwelum) act of having carnal knowledge of the minor for a period of more than one year, between January 2022 and June 2023 constitutes an infringement of her right to the dignity of her person as enshrined in section 34(1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (As Amended).
“Third, a declaration of court that the respondents’ act of setting process in motion towards compromising and sweeping charges number: MEN/319C/2023 under the carpet.
“While taking the minor back to 13/15 Onoh Crescent GRA, Enugu to continue living with them under the same roof as if nothing had happened constitutes mental or emotional/psychological torture to her contrary to the provision of section 34(1)(a) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)
“Fourth, an order of the honourable court that the applicant in the person of the minister of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and her ministry take immediate custody of the minor and cater for her needs henceforth.
“Fifth, an order of the Honourable Court restraining the respondents by themselves or through their agents/privies from having anything whatsoever to do with the minor till she reaches the age of 21 years.
“Sixth, damages amounting to N10m jointly and severally from the respondents,” he said.
The granting of bail to the first respondent had caused public outcry in which the minister, Ohanenye, earlier queried its rational.
She queried the rational for the bail considering the nature of the crime and the spate of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in the country, especially in Enugu State.
Ohanenye, in a press conference on October 17, said the ministry would take up legal action against the couple to ensure the survivor (minor) gets justice as well as serve as deterrent to others, who might want to tow the same line.