by Comfort Oseghale
Before her demise, Blessing Monday, 19, led a simple life. She was the last among six children of her parents and lived with her family at Illamija in Epe, Lagos.
On March 11, 2012, Blessing was on her father’s farm working, as she was wont to do, when she was attacked by her brother-in-law, Ime Titus.
CRIME DIGEST investigations show that the assailant had approached her while she was busy harvesting cassava in the farm and demanded to have sex with her.
Blessing’s refusal to yield to Titus’s demand had led to a scuffle. In the process, she slumped and died. But that did not stop him from going ahead to defile her.
Confessing to the deed, Titus said, “Blessing went limp immediately I hit her and she stopped struggling with me. I didn’t know that she was dead, although she was bleeding on the spot where I hit her. I went ahead to rape her and when I finished, I went into hiding again.”
Before the incident, Titus, 29, had enjoyed a close relationship with the family of his victim. “I have known her family for many years. My uncle is married to her eldest sister. At the time, Blessing was quite young,” he said.
Although the Mondays’ home in Illamija was a long distance from his residence in Epe, Titus always found the time and resources to visit the family frequently. But unknown to members of that family, the young man’s sole motive was to gain the attention of the deceased. It was an ambition that he had nursed for a long time.
“I live with my elder brother at Moshalashi Street in Epe. Although I had known Blessing for some time, I didn’t start pestering her for love until a few weeks before she died. Anytime I asked, she would turn me down. I tried my best, but nothing would move Blessing,” Titus confessed.
Blessing’s parents might have noticed his attachment to their daughter, but they never suspected that it would cause her harm.
Determined to have his way, Titus hatched a plan. Aware that the father of the deceased owned a cassava farm from which his family supplemented their diet, he decided to visit their residence once again.
He said, “Before I left, I asked Blessing’s father if there was any job that he wanted done for a fee because I knew he owned a cassava farm. He replied in the negative and advised me to find a trade to gainfully occupy myself. I thanked him and left. I had no money on me to pay my fare back to Epe. So I had to spend the night in the bush.”
CRIME DIGEST learnt that Titus chose a vantage position, from where he could easily monitor Blessing’s movement. He spent two days in the bush and was at the mercy of insects and reptiles. Not even hunger could compel him to abandon his devious plan. And then, on the evening of the second day, when Blessing came out of her house, he had known it was time to strike.
Titus continued, “I knew she was going to the farm to harvest some cassava and so I followed her. When she got to the farm and started working, I showed up and asked her for sex. Again she refused, but I was determined to have my way. So I forced her.
“Blessing put up a fight. She struggled and scratched me with her nails on my face. At this point, it was clear that I wasn’t going to have things easy. Out of desperation, I picked up a heavy stick and hit her on the head with it.”
For reasons best known to Titus, he returned to his former hiding place near his victim’s home and spent three additional days there.
Meanwhile, members of the deceased’s family were initially worried over her failure to show up at home. But their anxiety soon gave way to grief after her corpse was discovered in her father’s cassava farm.
Blessing’s relatives immediately became suspicious of Titus’s involvement in her death. Their worst fears were eventually confirmed when the latter’s brother informed the family that he had not returned since he left home days earlier.
Titus said, “On the third day, I was about to leave my hiding place when I saw two of Blessing’s brothers on a motorcycle and they were armed with cutlasses. I knew they were looking for me and I was very scared.
“Later, at night, I approached some people, who were on their way home from work and begged them for money. That was how I was able to get back home to Epe.”
Titus was handed over to the Epe Police Division by his elder brother when he returned home.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Joseph Jaiyeoba, confirmed the incident. He said, “Titus was transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, from Epe Police Station, where he was arrested. Although the autopsy results have not been released, there is the probability that Blessing Monday was still alive, even after Titus hit her with the stick. Monday’s violated corpse was discovered by her family who mounted a search for her when she failed to show up. The case will be duly prosecuted at the conclusion of our investigation.”
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