BY EMMA UNA
A middle aged woman, Ene Edem Okon, has been arrested by the police for allegedly inflicting bodily harm and tying her 11-year-old daughter, Queeneth Ene Edem, hands and legs for being wayward. She was arrested when Queeneth appeared in her school, Government Primary School, Akim, with multiple wounds on her chest, stomach and buttocks prompting the school authorities to report the matter to the police at the Akim Police Station.
The girl narrated to Sunday Vanguard that, on February 17, she left home at Eneyo village in Akpabuyo Local Government Area for the Maternity Junction Settlement, some four kilometers away from home, to meet her cousin, one Blessing, but did not return home. “We were waiting for Blessing’s friend from whom she wanted to collect something but she delayed in coming and we waited till night and, because we were afraid of going back home, we slept in an uncompleted building at the Maternity Junction”, she said.
The 11-year-old said the next day, one of her friends saw her at the Maternity Junction and told her that her mother was looking for her with a machete after which she became afraid to go back home. “We stayed on the road near our house and were breaking kernel to eat when my mother sent somebody to come and catch us. That person came pretending to play with us but suddenly grabbed me and dragged me to my mother”.
The mother, angry, allegedly got hold of her and used a rod to hit her all over her body, thus leaving her with severe wounds. “She also put the kitchen knife in the fire she was cooking and when it was hot, she placed it on my buttocks”, the girl stated.
When Sunday Vanguard met Mrs Ene Okon at the Akim Police Station, she appeared remorseful, stating that she was driven by anger because Queeneth was stubborn and had formed the habit of spending the night outside at such a tender age. “I sent her to school in far away Calabar because I don’t trust the school here in Akpabuyo but she is just too stubborn, so I had to teach her a lesson.”
Mr Hogan Bassey, the police spokesman for Cross River Police Command, said the woman would appear in court after investigations are concluded.
Mr Bassey Ibor, a child rights activist, said children’s courts in the state are not functioning and called on the state government to fund the courts. “The cases we have taken to the children’s courts have suffered long adjournments because the judges are not sitting. Government should, as a matter of urgency, ensure that the courts are funded so that these children would not continue to be denied of justice.”