An apostle, Joseph Alhassan, of Faith Agape Church, Narayi Kaduna, Kaduna State, has been arrested for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl for the past five years.
Mr Alhassan was arrested at his residence, No 158 B, Abdulrahman Road, Shagari Low Cost, Barnawa Kaduna, by officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The apostle, who is also the Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Orphans and Widows Welfare Foundation International, was arrested following a complaint filed by the Kaduna State Ministry of Human Services and Social Development.
The victim (name withheld), while interacting with Brenda Bartholomew, the Social Welfare Officer-in-charge of the case, in Kaduna on Saturday, alleged that Mr Alhassan sexually abused her over the last five years.
Ms Bartholomew said that the victim, from Saminaka, Lere Local Government Area of the state, had been living with the accused since she was 11 years old as a house-help.
She explained that the case was reported to the ministry by a non-governmental organisation, Bridge that Gap Initiative, after which the ministry intervened to investigate the issue.
“After receiving the information, we reported the case to the NSCDC, Kaduna South Local Government Area Division, Kakuri, who thereafter arrested Alhassan and (are) currently investigating the matter.
“We have taken her (victim) to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Kakuri, for medical examination while we wait for NSCDC to conclude their investigation before we will proceed with the prosecution process,” she said.
On her part, Gloria Bulus, the Executive Director, Bridge that Gap Initiative, told NAN that she found out about the victim’s predicament through a neighbour’s child who attended the same school with the victim.
“In late October 2019, we heard that a 12-year-old girl, also a house-help in Mr Alhassan’s house, had told some of her friends at school that her fellow house-help was being sexually molested by Alhassan.
“We decided to visit the school, Aliyu Makama Primary School, Barnawa, to investigate the alleged crime. We met the Assistant Head Teacher, Mrs Rebecca Sambo, who claimed ignorance of the issue.
“But the 12-year-old girl reaffirmed the allegation and we were able to contact her parents in Kagarko, who came and took her away.
“To ensure justice for the victim, we decided to approach the Ministry of Human Services to investigate the allegation. I am glad that the ministry did,” Ms Bulus said.
When contacted, the Child Protection Desk Officer, NSCDC Kaduna, Shehu Maiyaki, confirmed to NAN that Mr Alhassan was in their custody and that the matter was being investigated.
However, Mr Alhassan denied committing the crime, saying it is a baseless accusation.