By Ifeanyi Okolie
When these teenagers, Chukwuebuka OrakwueÂ andÂ Oliver Orakwue, who were indegenes ofÂ Ifite-Ogwari area of Anambra State, had the opportunityÂ of relocating toÂ Lagos State, last May , a place theyÂ have always savored and constantlyÂ relishedÂ to visit, they embraced the offer with open hands,Â without an inkling of what awaits them.
But soon, after they arrived Lagos State , their dreams eventually turned into a nightmare as they were welcomed into, what seems to be a torture chamber.Â The chamber turned out to be the home of one
Elechukwu NwajioforÂ and his wife Chiamaka.Â Â The unsuspecting teenagers started being apprehensive after they saw the condition of another 11- year- old boy, Emmanuel AzukaÂ whoÂ resides with the couple.Â He was looking very unhealthy,Â tortured, battered and uncared-for.
In fact, the condition of the boy made the duo to quickly request to be taken back to their village but their host made sure they did not have that opportunity.Â Â He reportedly objected to their request claiming that he had spent over five hundred thousand naira to bring them to Lagos as domestic servants.
Chukwuebuka Orakwue, told Crime Alert that their master,Â Elechukwu, who is a native of Nneni town inÂ Anambra State, had sought the assistance ofÂ his friend, Nwabufor, from their home town (Ifite-Ogwari), to help him secure domestic assistants for his six-month-old pregnant wifeÂ in return for good life, sound education and care. And based on that, Chukwuebuka and Oliver, who were both 14 years old, jumped at the opportunity after their parents consented to Nwabuforâ€™s request.
After their master rejected their constant pleas to be allowed to go back to their village, the teenagers had no other alternative than to continue with the torture, domestic abuses and other maltreatment in the hands of their master and his wife.
In fact, the maltreatment continued unabated until last Wednesday when one of them, Oliver gave up the ghost.Â Â He breathed his lastÂ after being tortured for over two weeks, for stealing few pieces of fish from the pot.Â He was allegedly chained from the back to his hands and legs and was locked up in the toilet, without food or water, and while on chains, the wife was beating him daily with belt, pestle and wires, before he took ill and died.
Neighbors at their Ago-Okota residence alerted the police as news of the death of the domestic help filtered out.Â The couple were subsequently arrested by the Police and paraded before crime reporters.
During the parade at the Oduduwa, Ikeja office of the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer last Thursday, the couple denied ever maltreating the domestic servants and attributed the death of Oliver to a strange illness.
According to the couple, Oliver took ill few weeks ago, he stopped eating and was defecating uncontrollably.Â â€œIt got to a stage his condition got worse and we rushed him to Eko hospital at Surulere where we paid over N120,000, but he did not survive even after several efforts by the doctors to stabilize him.â€ Â Â Â However, vigilant policemen saved the couple from being lynched by the enraged crowd of on-lookers who had gathered to listen to the pathetic story of the surviving domestic servants, Emmanuel and Chukwuebuka who publicly narrated their ordeal in the hands of the couple.Â They gave vivid account of how Oliverâ€™s life was cut short.
According to Chukwuebuka, who spoke in an emotion-laden voice, â€œOga (Elechukwu) got I, and Oliver from his friend Nwabufor who is from our village, then we were both in school and he assured us that when we get to Lagos, all he needed from us was to assist his wife in her domestic chores and after, we will also continue our education.
Then I was very happy and I also told all my friends about it and they envied me. But when we got to Lagos, we were shocked when we saw the boy living with them. He looks very bad, unhealthy and when he showed us to his room, the entire place was stinking.Â I felt disappointed and I told Oliver that I canâ€™t stay in this place.Â Â I therefore started agitating to go home.Â But Oliver was very soft, he could not press his demand. And when we told Oga that we cannot stay, he threatened to kill us. And on our fourth day, madam (Chiamaka) gave us bible to take oath not to tell any body of what she does and if we do, we will die by motor accident.Â We then kept quiet.
â€œThe penaltyÂ for any wrong doing are days of severe solitary confinement inside their toilet, with our hands and legs tightly bound with chains and without food and water.Â Â Â There was even a day, she was looking for three thousand naira, and she suspected I stole it and when she asked me, I told her it wasnâ€™t with me and she did not believe.
She then started beating me with belts and when it wasnâ€™t enough, she used pestle to hit on my head severally and when the pains became much and she was not ready to stop the beating, I then accepted that I stole the money.Â IÂ told them where I kept it and when she went there,Â she couldnâ€™t find it and she pounced on me again. While she was doing it, she said since I no longer feel the pains from the pestle, she decided to chain me.Â She started hitting my head with a hammer.Â Â When I could not give her what she was looking for, she left me on chains for two weeks.
â€œThough they have been complainingÂ that Oliver is very slow in carrying out his own duties, oneÂ day, weÂ forgot to put on the fridge and the generator was running.Â Â WhenÂ madam gotÂ home andÂ discovered it,Â she started beating me.Â Oliver whose duty was toÂ wash cloths went to the kitchen and took some fish and when madam noticed, she held Emmanuel because, it was his duty to cook food.
After a while, it was discovered that it was Oliver that stole the fish, then Emmanuel was on chains at the toilet and Oliver was put in his place and he wasÂ given a beaten of his life while he was on chains, without food.Â Â After some days, he fell sick and madam refused to release him. Three days before he died, his stomach started swelling and madam was still hitting him with the pestle and she said it will cost them only two hundred thousand naira to cover the case up.Â Â Thereafter, Oliver started stooling uncontrollablyÂ and then, it worsened.Â Â Â That was when she unchained him, and it got even worse before he was rushed to the hospital and later died.â€.
The Lagos State Police Command Spokesman, Frank Mba, while parading the suspects described the case as â€˜manâ€™s inhumanity to man adding that the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo, has ordered that the case be investigated thoroughly.
According to him â€œ we not will just ensure that we conductÂ this investigation discreetly.Â The commissioner of police has already directed, but we will also ensure that we put in effect the child right act law,Â which isÂ already been domiciledÂ in Lagos State.
He however, advised citizens to treat their house helps in a manner required by the law.Â â€œ We want to urge citizens out there, if you must have an house help ,Â if you must have a domestic servant, particularlyÂ when they are under age, you must know that you oweÂ them a duty of care, you must cater for both their physical, emotional and physiological needs, youÂ must play your part both as a parent and as a guardianÂ and if you know you canâ€™t provide these needs for your house helps,Â then donâ€™t have one, if you do,Â you must be held accountable if you fail to treat them in a way prescribed by the lawâ€, he added.