MEN of the Osun State Police Command have arrested Islamic cleric Sheikh Habeebulah Abdulrahman for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl who attended his Islamic school in the town of Ede.
In what is now becoming a growing trend across Nigeria, the cleric popularly known as Al-Edewy, apparently raped the victim, while she was taking lessons from him. Yesterday, he was arrested and detained by the Osun State Criminal Investigation Department of the Nigerian Police Force.
Although the cleric did not deny having sex with the girl, he claimed that he got married to her a day before the first rape incident. However, Sheikh Abdulrahman could not provide any evidence of marriage as the girl and her family debunked the claims.
“Barely four days after I joined the Islamic school, he asked me to marry him but I said my studies will be affected and that he is too old for me even if I want to marry anyone at all,” the girl said.
Nigerian law outlaws marriage to a person below 18 years. Section 21 of the Child Rights Act states that “No person under the age of 18 is capable of contracting a valid marriage and accordingly a marriage so contracted is null and void.”
Section 31 of the same law stipulates that a person who commits an offence of defilement is liable on conviction to life imprisonment. Osun is one of the 25 Nigerian states that have adopted the Child Rights Act.
One the matter was reported, the family unit of the police said that the suspect absconded when officers visited his residence in Ede. However, yesterday, Sheikh Abdulrahman eventually showed up in Osogbo, where he was questioned and detained.
Abdulrasheed Maisolati, the victim’s lawyer, confirmed the arrest of the suspect. He added that within the last 24 hours, some persons who had similar experiences with the cleric contacted him.
“I discovered that has always been his case but because people are always afraid of the stigmatisation, nobody was able to come out boldly to report him. In fact, this morning, a woman called me and was asking if it is not too late for her to write a petition against the same man of what he did to her two years ago.”
“A case of a 14-year-old girl was also reported to me again this morning. The mother left the case because she was so poor and they believe the man is rich and can do anything to them,” the lawyer added.