Seven youths have been accused of raping a trader inside a plaza in the Alaba Market, Lagos State.
Two of them, ─ Abeeb Busari, 22, and 18-year-old Lawal Gbolahan ─ who were nabbed and arraigned in court by the police, have been remanded in custody by an Apapa Magistrate’s Court.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the police had launched a manhunt for the other fleeing offenders while the arrested suspects have owned up to the crime.
The victim, 24-year-old Bola (pseudonym), sells fairly-used clothes in the area.
It was gathered that the woman was hawking her wares around 4.30pm on May 27, when Busari, who works as a bricklayer on a construction project at the market, summoned her under the pretext of buying a jacket for which he agreed to pay N500.
He reportedly told her to follow him to a room in a plaza at the market ─ where he had lodged ─ to collect the money for the item.
Busari, it was learnt, was acting on the order of one of his accomplices, identified as Tunde, who reportedly orchestrated the crime to punish the victim for an undisclosed offence.
Our correspondent was told that on getting to the room, Busari shut the door and ordered the woman to sit, while Gbolahan and the other five fugitives jumped down from the roof, where they had hidden. They allegedly took turns To Molest her.
After about 30 minutes, a welder, Idris Lasisi, who reportedly saw the trader and Busari, traced her to the plaza and barged into the room.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the suspects threatened him with a dagger when he attempted to raise the alarm.
Busari, who hails from the Ikorodu area of the state, confessed to the crime, saying it was Tunde, one of the fleeing suspects, who planned the act.
He said, “I was in the market on the fateful day when I saw Bola hawking fairly-used clothes.
I deceived her that I wanted to buy a jacket and asked her to follow me upstairs to collect the money.
As soon as she entered my room, I locked the door. Before then, my friend, Tunde had made arrangement with other five boys to hide inside the ceiling.
“They jumped down as soon as she came in. It was Tunde, who tore her panties and threatened her with a dagger. Idris (Lasisi) forcefully entered while the act was on, but Tunde threatened to stab him if he shouted. When we were done, I gave her N500 for the jacket, but Tunde collected it from her.”
In his statement, Gbolahan, who is also a bricklayer, said he was in his house, located around the market when Tunde invited him, adding that he was forced To Molest the woman.
He said, “I was inside my own room, when Tunde called me into the room, where Bola was kept. He told me she had offended him once and he wanted to deal with her. He forced me to join in gang-raping her.”
It was gathered that Lasisi eventually managed to sneak out of the room while the men were immersed in the act and alerted traders at the market, leading to Busari and Gbolahan’s arrest by policemen from the Layeni Police Station.
They were subsequently arraigned before a chief magistrate, Mr. P.A. Adekomaya, on two counts of rape.
The charges read, “That you, Abeeb Busari, Lawal Gbolahan, and five others now at large, on May 27, 2015, at about 4.30pm, at Alaba New Market, Lagos, in the Apapa Magisterial District, did conspire to commit felony to wit: rape.
“That you and five others at large on the same date, time and place in the aforesaid magisterial district did unlawfully and forcefully have the carnal knowledge of one Bola.”
The defendants pleaded guilty to the charges, which according to a police prosecutor, ASP Olusoji Ojaokomo, contravene sections 409 and 348 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, Nigeria, 2011.
Adekomaya ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison and adjourned the case till July 28, 2015.