An Evbuoraria Magistrates’ Court in Benin, Edo State was forced to suspend judgment in a rape trial on Thursday when news broke that the rape victim had died in a car crash on the Benin-Auchi Expressway in Edo State.

The 17-year-old pregnant rape victim was heading to the court with her uncle, an advocacy officer with a non-governmental organization (NGO), the Brave Heart Initiative, identified as Promise Ezekiel, and their driver, Paul Opashe, when a truck reportedly rammed into their vehicle.

A fifth occupant of the car survived the crash and is said to be in a critical condition in the hospital.

The magistrate and other persons who had gathered in court for the judgment were said to have browken down in tears when the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) broke the news of the tragedy. All matters slated for hearing by the magistrate were thereafter postponed.

The NGO is also said to have shut down indefinitely.

Punch reports that the teenager was allegedly defiled by her father, identified as Jacob Alonge, aka Ariver, many times in their house in the Akoko Edo area of Edo State.

The Brave Heart Initiative, in a statement it issued after agreeing to take up the case in December 2018, had said the bubble burst after the girl was impregnated the second time.

“The Brave Heart Initiative’s current case involves a 17-year-old girl, who had been serially abused by her biological father. The father is known to possess diabolical powers and engages in fetish practices.

“The mother has been largely absent in her life, and the victim has a lot of social issues with a complicated mental health history.

“Her father shaved her hair as a threat of death if she disclosed the sexual abuse, and made her to swear to keep the secret. She, therefore, endured all the abuse in secrecy.

“He impregnated her last year (2017) and aborted the pregnancy via local concoctions. She is pregnant again and was finally able to confide in a relative. The community has risen in her defence. The suspect (her father) was apprehended by the community’s vigilance group and the police arrested him. The case is being prepared for further investigation and prosecution.

“The scan conducted revealed that the girl is 21 weeks’ pregnant. The Brave Heart Initiative will be registering her for antenatal and hopes to secure a better household for her until childbirth.”

The founder of the NGO, Priscilla Usiobaifo, had in a series of posts on the case on Facebook, also lamented the mental condition of the 17-year-old, praying for her full recovery.

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