On Tuesday, February 14, 2023, a Lagos court specializing in sexual offenses and domestic violence sentenced a pastor, Nduka Anyanwu, to double life imprisonment for sexually assaulting and impregnating two biological sisters within the church premises.
The court’s ruling was met with mixed emotions, as some individuals were pleased with the judgment, while others felt that the sentence was too harsh.
Anyanwu, who identifies as a Minister at a Lord’s Chosen Church branch in Oshodi, had repeatedly raped the minors under the guise of delivering them from evil spirits. The survivors, aged 13 and 17 at the time of the assault, were defiled for a prolonged period before finally being impregnated by Anyanwu.
The prosecution argued that the pastor committed the offenses on August 3, 2020, on Arowojobe Street, Oshodi. The prosecution called five witnesses, including the survivors, their parents, and a social worker, while the defendant testified as the sole defense witness.
The witnesses’ testimonies painted a harrowing picture of the abuse the sisters suffered.
According to the prosecution, Anyanwu defiled and impregnated the sisters on the pretext of holding prayer sessions with them. The sessions were meant to exorcise the evil spirits that allegedly possessed them, and the pastor purportedly convinced the sisters that intercourse was necessary to rid them of the spirits.
The survivors’ parents, who were supposed to protect their children, were found to be complicit in the heinous crimes perpetrated against their children. The court judge, Justice Abiola Soladoye, described the parents as irresponsible, stating that they encouraged the survivors to be defiled by the defendant. On several occasions, one of the survivors had gone back to her parents to complain about the conduct of the defendant, but instead of helping their daughter, they beat her and sent her back to the defendant’s home.
Justice Soladoye noted that the police should have charged the parents of the victims and survivors alongside the convict. The judge also deemed the prosecution’s evidence reliable and coherent, describing the convict as morally bankrupt. The conviction and sentencing of Anyanwu was a victory for the survivors and a warning to other individuals who might consider similar crimes.
The court’s decision to sentence Anyanwu to double life imprisonment was met with a mixed reaction from the public. Some people felt that the sentence was too harsh, while others argued that it was appropriate, given the gravity of the crimes committed. Nonetheless, the conviction and sentencing of Anyanwu for his reprehensible actions against innocent minors sent a clear message to other predators that justice would be served, no matter their social or religious status.
The case also highlighted the importance of safeguarding children and the need for parents and guardians to be vigilant about who they entrust their children with. It also underscored the necessity for communities and religious organizations to be proactive in protecting vulnerable individuals from sexual exploitation and abuse. Overall, the conviction of Anyanwu for his abominable actions against minors was a step towards creating a safer and more just society.
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