Rape by herdsmen: Another woman suffers the same fate at the same place

it’s been an agonizing moment for a 27-year-old mother of two, five weeks after she was allegedly raped by two teenage Fulani herders at a farm not far away from her home. The woman, Kangyang James, had gone to the farm located a few kilometres away from Diyan village in Rim district of Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State, when the teenagers, who ostensibly had been lurking around, struck and allegedly raped her in turns.

Since June 6, 2017, when the incident occurred, she is yet to recover from the pain and shock of her traumatic experience; and as at last week, she was still in Jos, the state capital, where she was said to have been temporarily relocated by CWEENS, a non-governmental organization, on June 10, 2017, for post-trauma counseling and rehabilitation. Though she was able to identify her assailants who were picked up by the police, according to reports, she is now a shadow of herself.

Her husband, James Ishaku, aged 35, could barely express his thoughts when journalists encountered him recently at Rim village. He merely murmured a few words as he sat on a wooden chair. At intervals, he took a glance at his two daughters seated by him, Rahila and Peace, aged four and two respectively, shook and bowed his head, evidently drowned in self-pity.

His wife, Kangyang, is fortunate to be alive, but Rebecca Reuben, a young woman who hails from Tahoss village in the same local government area, was not that lucky. Last year, precisely on April 25, she was savagely raped to death by alleged herdsmen in Gwa-chwel, at a black spot the locals said had become a danger zone for their women.

Rebecca was 21 years old, nursing her first baby when the incident occurred. Her body was dumped in an open area by her assailants who left no trace as they fled. The baby, now aged 2, is battling for survival without the care of a mother and left to a father, whose emotional wounds are still fresh, and who politely declined an interview with our correspondent to avoid being bruised emotionally, by the weight of recounting the horrific experience his wife passed through.

Another Plateau State indigene, 45-year-old Pwajok Davou shares the same fate with him. The difference, however, is that Pwajok was courageous enough to recount the horrendous details of how Sarah, his beloved wife and mother of seven, was gruesomely raped to death at the same spot in Gwa-chwel, and her body thrown into a stream.

But he struggled to fight back tears as he narrated how the 40-year-old woman went on a journey of no return few metres away from their home in search of firewood to prepare breakfast for the family, shortly after they returned from an early morning-prayer session about 6.am of the ill-fated day.

“On that day, we went for morning prayers about 5am and came back home about 6am,” Pwajok recalled.  “She decided to go and fetch firewood at a nearby farm without knowing that some Fulani boys had laid ambush; they shot their guns into the air to scare people and dragged her into the bush, where they had been raping women. They tied her to a tree for one week and raped her; when I reported the matter to the STF (Special Task Force) personnel at Sector 9 in Rahoss, they came to my house and assured me that they will bring my wife back; that they were in touch with the Fulani who abducted her. She was later raped to death and her body dumped in a stream,” he said painfully.

Five days later, her badly decomposed body was recovered following an alarm raised by one of his friends who sighted it at a corner of the stream. “Since then, life has been horrible for me; she was the only wife I had and I doubt if I can ever remarry,” Pwajok, who hails from Diyan village, lamented in an interview with journalists.

He says the memories of his late wife, who he married 27 years ago, will remain evergreen, and the emotional scar inflicted on him too difficult to erase, but the seven children she left behind, aged between 21 and 4, give him a ray of hope and a reason to continue living.

“Some of my children are in school; others are living in the cities with my relations. Since that horrific incident occurred, it has been traumatic for me, it has been a nightmare; for those who gruesomely raped my wife to death, I leave them to God, with the hope that He will wipe away my sorrow and agony; my children are my hope, they comfort me; but God is the greatest comforter,” he said.

Mr. Solomon Daliop, a lawyer and rights activist, who hails from Jol, a neighbouring community, expressed concern over the rising incidents of rape in Rim district. He is particularly worried that in most cases, the perpetrators go scot-free, while victims and members of their family are left to lick their wounds in pain.

“The case of Kangyang, who survived a gang-rape, is indeed, worrisome. While the two suspects who she was able to identify, were arrested and are still in custody, the manner the police handled the case, leaves much to be desired. I have been following the case diligently, and as at last week, I was told the suspects had been arraigned before a magistrate court at Kasuwan-nama in Jos, but the charges were not disclosed and the nominal complainant not notified. This cloudy situation has prompted intervention by the International Federation of Women Lawyers,” he disclosed.

Last month, the Plateau State chapter of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), also lent its voice on the need for justice for Kangyang, just as it expressed dismay on the increase in rape incidents in the state.

A statement issued by the chairperson, Mrs. Jennifer Yarima reads in part: “NAWOJ in Plateau State is appealing to the state government to take urgent measures towards curbing the menace of increasing wave of rape and other violent conducts against vulnerable women in the state through the legislation of strong laws to deal with perpetrators. NAWOJ also condemns the alleged rape and indecent assault of a nursing mother by a herdsman and his younger brother, while the victim was returning from her farm at Diyen, Rim District of Riyom Local Government Area.”

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Rape by herdsmen: Another woman suffers the same fate at the same place

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