It was a narrow escape for one 16-year-old student (name withheld), a victim of Saturday’s shocking attack on the Lagos-bound luxury bus owned by Ekene Dilli Chukwu. The anonymous student of the unnamed junior secondary school tells of how she escaped being raped by the attackers who had intercepted the bus, hired to transport a group of teen-aged female students, and reportedly raped many along the Ijebu Ode/Ore Expressway in Ogun State.
The survivor, speaking to the Vanguard at her Ajao Estate residence, said the gunmen had attacked the bus intent on robbery, but changed courses when they discovered the bus was transporting young girls and not traders.
“I was sleeping and did not know how the bus was intercepted,” the emotional girl said. She recalled being jarred awake and in her disoriented state soon found herself in the forest.
“At that point, I started reciting my rosary on protection. Our phones were first collected and then cash. I was just with N1200, out of which I was to buy recharge card to contact my parents on approaching Lagos.
When the robbers discovered they were students, the girls were ordered to lie down.
“One of them shouted in pidgin English “so na because of these small children we dey do all this wahala (trouble)?”
The student said they were then ordered to take off their clothes, “but one of them challenged the person that said so, asking if he did not realise we were children and it resulted in a shouting match between them”.
The disagreement between some, did not deter the other attackers who carried on with their intent to rape. The female student told the Vanguard that in the midst of the argument, one of the men had approached her and ordered her, at gunpoint, to take off her clothes. Afraid that she would be shot, the girl took off her underwear first. She noticed blood on it and thinking fast told the robber that one of his colleagues had already attacked her. He sneered at her, but moved on.
“I don’t know what would have happened to me had my menstrual flow not occurred,” she said in the interview.
Asked what she knew of her school mates’ experiences, the student said, ” I did not see anything because we were all scattered and the whole place was dark.
“What they did was point their torch light (flash lights) at whoever they wanted to talk to and immediately switched it off,” she said, adding that short of the darkness, sounds of night and her own fear all she could hear was “screams and silent prayers”.
Despite tales of terror from this student and others like her, the Ogun state police command insists that no case of rape has been reported and has failed to investigate the reports.
Olumuyiwa Adejobi, spokesman for the command said “the victims did not make such statement or complaint to the police and our men at the scene did not see any sign of such”, adding that even the driver of the luxury bus filed no such claim.
While he conceded to allegations of a robbery attack on the EDC bus, Adejobi refuted claims of rape saying that “with the prompt response of the police patrol teams, the robbers were dislodged. The victims were rescued and taken to their destination by another vehicle provided by police”.
He however called on travellers and residents to remain vigilant, adding that security has been intensified on major roads.
According to the Vanguard, the girls who had been taken to a hospital upon their return to Lagos on Sunday have been discharged and reportedly suffered minor injuries.