Anthonia Ojenagbon


There is a lot of information on the cyber space on rape and the legal impediments of rape; some right some wrong. This article aims to separate the facts from fiction and also to provide some guide for rape survivors if they intend to pursue a criminal case against alleged rapists.

In a nutshell, rape is non-consensual sexual intercourse. When a man has sex with a woman without her consent (in Nigeria – apart from in the FCT Abuja, only women are capable of being raped). When a woman has non-consensual sex with a man it is termed sexual assault. Sexual assault is similar to rape, but is not rape. ( Lawpadi 2018) ( this has been expanded to all states where VAAP has been signed)

1. Myth One: Age of consent in Nigeria is 11; This information is false; the Child’s Rights Act of 2003 sets the age of consent at 18; however the challenge here is some states domesticated the law and reduced age of consent in their states while 11 states are yet to domesticate the Childs Rights Act. (Domestication of a law means when a law is passed by the Nigerian National Assembly and signed by the President, states also have to pass the law and the state governors also sign hence making that law applicable in those states). Advocacy should be focused on getting the remaining 11 states on board.

2. Myth 2: Since 1960 there has been only 18 Rape Convictions in Nigeria; This information is also false. Though I am unable to get a current figure the number of convictions is no where around 18. Even though this figure is still low, the challenges of getting convictions have mostly been from under reporting by victims and family members who believe the court and legal system may not give them justice. In some cases families have received compensation from the alleged rapists and refused to pursue cases further, in other cases lack of diligent prosecution , also poor training of police officers who receive reports of rape cases have discouraged victims from pursuing cases further. It is in response to this that some states have established helplines for sexual and domestic assault and some NGOs have worked to help victims get justice.

Aishatu Ene

Myth 3: Rape Laws are Lax: While laws could be better in some areas eg; marital rape and redefining rape to mean sex without consent for both genders; the current laws are quite harsh on offenders. The VAAP law now has addressed some of these concerns.

There are 4 laws that deal with rape around Nigeria; The Criminal Code – this is applicable in all the Southern States
A. The Penal Code – this is applicable in all the Northern States
B. The Criminal Laws of Lagos – this is applicable only in Lagos State
C. The Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act – this has been domesticated by over 16 states currently
D. The Child Rights Act – this is only applicable in the States which have domesticated it ( Law Padi 2018).

These are the stipulated punishments for sexual crimes in Nigeria;
i. Assault with intent to commit unnatural offence (against the order of nature) is punishable with 14 years imprisonment
ii. Indecent assault on males is punishable by 3 years imprisonment
iii. Rape is punishable by life imprisonment, with or without caning.
iv. Attempt to commit rape is punishable with 14 years imprisonment
v. Indecent assault on females is punishable with 2 years imprisonment
vi. Abduction is punishable with 7 years imprisonment
vii. Abduction of girls under sixteen is punishable with two years imprisonment
Please note that ignorance of the age of the girls or as regards consent will not ground a defence. ( Wale Joseph November 2015; My Job Mag )

Step By Step Guide to reporting Rape Cases in Nigeria:In the sad event of a rape; Rape Survivors may find these steps helpful:

1. Do not take a bath
2. Call for help and guidance: emergency response numbers nationwide is 112; in Abuja include; 112, 08078111126), Lagos : 112, 08137960048 E-mail : info@dsvrtlagos.org.
Kaduna: 09064528082. Enugu; 08060084441

3. Make a report at the Police Station; A report of the incident is very important to get the case started, it is very important to remember and report every detail as this will help get the offender. If the victim is calm enough it may help to write out details before going to the station. If the police response is not satisfactory kindly report to 08057000001 police complaint line. The IGP has recently pushed for establishment of gender desks in all Police Stations, a victim or family members should request for the gender desk or officer at a station.

4. Get Medical help and a medical report; Family or friends can rush the victim to the hospital while making a police report. It is important to go to the hospital so the victim can receive immediate medical attention to prevent infections and pregnancy and for medical evidence of a rape which is needed for a strong prosecution case. Also some hospitals have social workers who will offer immediate counseling for victims. A government hospital is preferable for prosecution purposes even though the Court of Appeal has ruled that reports from Private Hospitals are now admissible.

5. Speak with a Lawyer: It is very important to speak with a good lawyer to guide you through the process of getting justice; some NGOs offer this service. A good lawyer will ensure that there is diligent prosecution and guide against public statements that may compromise the case.

6. Speak to a trained counselor; Some NGOs offer post trauma counseling services; it is very important for a survivor to get counseling as rape is a highly traumatic occurrence. While a victim may look and act fine they may suffer Post Trauma in different forms which only a trained counselor can spot and guide through.

7. Use of Social Media: In some rape and sexual assault case social media has been instrumental in getting justice especially when the police is lax in investigations, also funding is important in pursing rape cases, medical examination; in cases where the alleged rapist has fled to another town funds may be needed to facilitate an arrest unfortunately the police will say they are not adequately funded to carry out inter- state arrests ; Social media can help with such funds and also act as pressure to ensure diligent investigation and prosecution; however not all details should be put on social media as some details could alert the suspect, and compromise the case hence the need to have some guidance from a lawyer.

Supportive Roles for Rape Survivors

:1. Family: Family should offer support and not judgment; in cases of minors parents should not disregard reports, tale signs in their children. It is also important to consider the victims health in all decisions and stop the practice of receiving compensation to kill cases. Victims must receive immediate medical attention and family must ensure this is done

2. Police: The Police must be trained to understand rape as a serious issue and take the right and honest steps to investigate cases. Better funding for investigation of cases will remove the burden from the victim who may be discouraged by the expenses in pursuing a case. Gender desks at some police stations is commendable; regular training and refresher courses on new laws is required. Also gender desks should be set up in all police stations so victims can recieve adequate assistance from the police to encourage follow up with prosecution.

3. State Prosecution: Work with the police to ensure diligent prosecution of rape cases. Open communication lines with victims and families. Ensuring that the burden of funding doesn’t lie with the victim and their families.

4. NGOs: Help provide/ source funding for prosecution, work with police and prosecution to ensure victim is well represented, act as a pressure group , provide support and counseling for victims, advocate for domestication of progressive laws on sexual violence, child’s rights act, VAAP law and the sexual offences bill. Also advocate to state Governments to set up response hotlines to domestic and sexual abuse.

5. Social Media: BE RESPONSIBLE IN REPORTING RAPE CASES; Responsible reportage by bloggers and social media users is important to ensure prosecution and for the victims recovery. Using the victims pictures, sharing pictures or videos of the rape if available are not helpful; sharing videos and pictures of a rape of a minor can be regarded as distribution of child porn which is a crime. Sharing pictures of a minor without blurring the face who has been abused is also unethical. While we are all passionate about ending rape and punishing offenders, it is responsible to remember as hard as it may be that the alleged rapist under the law until proven guilty still has a presumption of innocence.

6. Sexual Offenders register: States that have domesticated the VAAP law also operate a sexual offenders register where convicted rapist and sexual offenders are published. NAPTIP as a national body also operates a national sex offenders register.


Goodnews: Akwa Ibom has signed the VAAP law so they are no longer on this map

Anthonia Ojenagbon, Survivor & Ceo Silton African Kitchen

Anthonia Ojenagbon is rising from the ashes of adversity and inspiring others to do so through her story. Her dream is to help victims of sexual abuse find a voice by encouraging them to speak up and break the silence. She has turned her lemon to lemonade by speaking publicly about her experience and how she was able to go through the healing process after her uncle abused her as a young girl. She shares the story of her rise from the ashes to glory and how her business took her to Aso rock to meet the Former President of Nigeria in this interview.

Early Beginning
My mum was a full-time housewife while we were growing up and my father was in the military. Things were tight and we could hardly make ends meet. Having three square meals a day was such a big deal. Then I grew up and got married with a firm decision to contribute to the home by assisting my husband as best as I could. I really wanted to be useful to myself and my generation. I wanted to be able to feed people because l understood while growing up what it meant to be hungry.

Meet Me
My name is Anthonia Ojenagbon, the first of nine children. I am a product of Wavecrest College of Hospitality and the Pan Atlantic University. I am the lead chef at Silton African Kitchen.

Somehow a friend took me to a church and the pastor counselled on how to make my uncle stop what he was doing to me. The night after the pastor spoke to me, my uncle came again but this time l shouted with everything inside of me, pretending I was having a nightmare. I kept shouting until everyone in the house woke up, trying to find out what was wrong. Although I did not tell them what the problem was, that was the last time he tried to touch me. But by then a lot of damage and emotional harm had already been done. I became a shadow of myself because l felt l had offended God and that was why He allowed this evil to befall me. l lost every sense of self worth and my mind was in turmoil. I became very bitter towards men and hated them until l met my husband who is a complete gentleman. Since we got married, he has never ever made reference to my past and has never judged me.

Healing Process
The trauma and psychological effects of sexual abuse and rape are grievous was filled with hatred and bitterness. I was ashamed and felt guilty because l could not understand why this happened to me despite of the fact that l was brought up by Christian parents. I battled severe depression for a long time and eventually checked myself into a depression facility to seek professional help.
The healing process was not easy. l had difficulty making lifesaving decisions. L had sleep problems. l got to a point where l knew l needed help but did not know where and how to get that help.

Then one day l watched Funmi lyanda on New Dawn on NTA where a survivor of rape was interviewed. There and then l knew it was called child sexual abuse and the first step to healing was to talk to a trusted person. The guilt of sexual abuse and rape is such a heavy burden that must be broken, so I looked for an aunty to talk to. Luckily, l found two ladies who were not professional counsellors but were willing to hear my story and not judge me because we live in a very judgemental society where sexual abuse and rape is considered a taboo and victims are blamed or treated with disdain. I learnt to forgive myself because l always thought it was my fault. Thank God for social media, l decided to tell my story and the comments and responses have been phenomenal. l am now a trained emotional intelligence coach and a counsellor of traumatic and troubled children.

As l searched my mind, l just heard peppered snails; So during lunch break l started telling my colleagues that apart from making hats, l also sell peppered snails. That was how the business started. Now we make peppered snails for bigs events and offer office and home delivery services. We now also fry yam and plantain in addition to peppered snails and guinea fowls for events. The snail business won me the federal government of Nigeria YouWin grant for women and I was also one of the 1000 entrepreneurs selected from all over Africa by the Tony Elumelu Foundation for a grant and mentorship. We also run the breakfast canteen of the Central Bank of Nigeria Lagos Office. We actually provide full-fledged indoor and outdoor catering services now and run or manage corporate canteens.

Giving Up
When l first started the snail business, l was selling because my colleagues in class and members of staff were buying. l did not however think about what would happen after the course at the Pan Atlantic University. But after the course, getting customers became very difficult. l tried all the traditional methods of marketing l knew, but at the time nothing seemed to work. With time I started using social media. Before then, it was really frustrating and I even became severely discouraged and almost gave up.

My biggest reward so far was when l was invited to the Aso Rock State House to exhibit my snails. lt was such a dream come true for me. Again, I am also able to support my family in whatever little way I can and also a few other people who need help. But nothing compares to the excitement of hearing that I am an inspiration.

Challenges of Running my Business
In my catering business one the major challenges we faced initially was brand acceptance. It was difficult convincing our target audience to believe in our brand, but now the story is a lot different. Then in my social work it is difficult to convince people that I am speaking out because l want to be a beacon of hope to other survivors who have never spoken about their abuse and rape before.

Sexual abuse and rape is a cankerworm. Society still does not understand that survivors suffer a lot of emotional pain, loss of every sense of self worth, are severely depressed as a result of the abuse and rape. Society still is not sensitised enough to know that a lot of survivors are suicidal and are becoming more violent towards the opposite sex. Society still does not know all hands should be on deck to fight sexual abuse and rape and minimize it to the barest minimum. Parents should begin to talk to their children from an early age, victim should no more be blamed or shamed, survivors should not be judged because already they have suffered and are still suffering psychologically. We need more counsellors; in government hospitals they should be trained to attend to survivors when they come in. Survivors should not be stigmatized. Sometimes people disallow their children from marrying someone who has been sexually abused and raped before. All that has to stop.

Being a Woman of Rubies
OK, l think am a woman of ruby because l have excelled in both business and life generally inspite of what life has thrown to me. l have not allowed the abuse l suffered to keep me down. I have turned my lemon to lemonade by speaking publicly about my abuse so as to bring healing and hope to others who have also gone through similar experiences. I have not allowed my background and experience in life to keep my back on the ground.