•Pathetic stories of enslaved children
By Emma Nnadozie Crime Editor
His actions since assumption of duty as the Commissioner of Police in Lagos state have been commendable. Imohimi Edghal seems to have taken the bull by the horn as he embarked on far-reaching operations aimed at sacking criminal elements
Child abuse as agenda
Luckily, topmost in his agenda -thrust is the vexatious and dehumanizing issue of child abuse. In this regard, he seems to have gone all out, fishing out culprits from their hidden enclaves and meting appropriate sanctions without minding whose ox is gored. The command has so far recorded appreciable success in this regard with the active participation and involvement of members of the public who have seemingly been sensitized towards passing to the police relevant and useful information on offenders.
The number of cases so far unearthed and their bizarre and heartrending circumstances are as baffling as they are confounding. Take the case of a 10-year-old boy identified as Chimaobi who was set on fire by the wife of his uncle, 36-year-old nursing mother at their residence in Adenugba Street, Agunfoye, Ikorodu. His offence was simply that he misplaced his trousers and could not produce it when his aunt demanded them and out of anger, she brutalized him, poured kerosene on him and set him ablaze. The young boy who has been taken into protective custody by the Lagos State Government, according to neighbours, was a victim of serial abuse by his aunt, Gift Igwe who maltreated him at the slightest provocation.
It was gathered that the Ishielu, Ebonyi State-born indigene, was arrested after residents of the community reported her to the police when they heard the cries of the victim and managed to put out the fire during which he reportedly passed out.
Chimobi was subsequently rushed to Ikorodu General Hospital, while police from the Igbogbo division were said to have arrested the suspect. A source said that the child was brought to Lagos in 2016 by the uncle to start living with his family but all through his stay, his aunt never saw anything good in him and brutalized him at will. The source said that the matter came to a head when the heartless aunt set the boy on fire on Wednesday, September 6, 2017.
Vigilant neighbours open up
A vigilant neighbour opened up over the pathetic plight of the helpless boy: “His father is the younger brother of the man who is a security guard in a firm. He was not enrolled in any school after he was brought from the village. The brother wanted him to be assisting the wife, who had a baby about a year earlier, with house chores and other things. The woman started abusing him. There are marks of past floggings on his body. He also has sores. People in the community could no longer keep quiet when the last incident happened on Wednesday, September 6. She poured kerosene on the boy and lit him with a matchstick.”
The victim who also narrated his predicament on his hospital bed said he was in a primary school in their hometown before he was brought to Lagos from Ebonyi state. He explained that his uncle and his wife had refused to enroll him in a school since he started living with them. “I misplaced my trousers and ‘mummy’ poured kerosene on me and used a matchstick to light fire. People came to help me. I have not been going to school since they brought me from the village,” he lamented.
The Police said that Igwe had been granted bail because of her child, saying she was mandated to be reporting at the police station daily. “We gathered that the boy was accused of misplacing something and because of that, she got kerosene and set him ablaze. Some Good Samaritans put out the fire. The boy is recuperating. When our attention was called to the case, the Commissioner of police, Imohimi Edgal, quickly directed that action should be taken. We ensured the prompt treatment of the boy at the Ikorodu General Hospital. We also involved other government agencies, including a human right group working with the police in that area. The suspect was arrested and interrogated.
She is a nursing mother; she has a child that is less than two years old. She was later charged to court, together with her husband, after police concluded their investigations,” police explained.
Another shocking case unveiled
Shortly after the above scenario another shocking case reared its ugly head. A good Samaritan reportedly alerted police and a human rights organisation that a 10-year-old maid with a hand gory with injuries was been confined in their house at Dominic street, Ijegun, Lagos. The good Samaritan saw the bruises on the maid’s body and her rotting, maggot-infested finger, when she was sent on an errand. The Commissioner of Police personally led a team of policemen to their residence and they succeeded in rescuing the girl after she was tortured and physically assaulted by her guardians, Stella Anyakora and her husband, Valentine. The victim was taken to hospital for medical attention while the arrested guardians were interrogated and charged for assault.
In fact, these startling discoveries made the police to dig deeper into such cases and focus their searchlight on credible information from members of the public. Police gigantic thrust continued to pay off as they, once again, stumbled on another disheartening case of child abuse involving a banker, on Friday, January 5, 2018. the banker, was reportedly arrested and arraigned in court for locking up a child who was brought to her to work as a housemaid. The child was brought to her by a woman she claims was her elder sister. Police alleged that the suspect locked up the child in a poorly ventilated apartment before leaving for work and would not release the child until she returned home at night at the close of work.
The police report reads; Nwajagu, from Ajalli in Orumba LGA of Anambra state but residing at No. 12, Baderin street, Mafoluku, Oshodi, reported to the police after she was invited and she was taken to the Human Rights Section of the Lagos State Command, Ikeja. She will be prosecuted at the end of ongoing investigations in the case.
Insertion of broomstick into penis
In the same vein, a mother of four identified simply as Mrs. Bassey was arrested by the Lagos State Police Command for allegedly torturing her nine-year-old nephew, Promise, by inserting a broomstick and dried pepper into his penis.
Mrs. Bassey reportedly committed the heinous act at her residence at Ashaka Street, Ebute-Meta area of the state after accusing the boy of stealing her N2, 000.
It was learned that after forcing the boy to confess to the theft, Bassey went ahead to torture him, inflicting serious injuries on him.
Neighbours who reported the matter to the police at the Iponri Division were tired of the constant maltreatment of the young boy which included starvation, beating and humiliation.
The young victim, who has been rescued by the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender (LSOPD), was said to have been taken to a hospital where the broomstick was removed from his private part and was later taken to a government shelter.
A resident of the area said that Promise came to live with Bassey following the death of his parents when he was five-years-old but that he has been maltreated all along.
“Promise is the son of Bassey’s elder sister. His mother brought him to live with her so she could assist him with his education. The boy was formerly in a private public school, but he was withdrawn immediately his mother died. His father is also late. Since that time, she turned him into an errand boy. I have known the boy for three years now and can categorically say that he is always being maltreated. There was a time the guardian beat him up and tortured him with a needle. She starved the boy for three days. On another occasion, she sent the boy out of the house in the night and left him outside till daybreak.”
Another tenant added that despite having four children from different men, Bassey had never maltreated her own kids.
The issue came to a head on Wednesday, January 4, 2017, when Bassey allegedly inserted a stick of broom and dried pepper into Promise’s penis for allegedly stealing N2, 000.
“She said she was looking for N2, 000 and accused the boy of stealing it. She beat him up with a stick and used red pepper to rub his whole body. The boy was screaming, yet she did not stop. After that, she inserted a stick of broom, dipped in Cameroon pepper, into the boy’s private parts. We could not bear it again and we reported the abuse to the police at the Iponri Division. She was arrested and is still in police custody,” the tenant said.
Surprisingly, the tenants revealed, in utter consternation that some relatives of the suspect had been threatening to deal with them for reporting the case to the police.
Perhaps, what has been playing out over the issue of child abuse is the robust relationship the police in Lagos established with people in their respective communities in the state.
Security expert reacts
A security expert, Tony Nwigwe attributed the successes recorded so far to the handiwork of the present police leadership in the state. “These blood cuddling and shocking incidents of abuses have been with us for long. What is at play is the robust operational strategies and relationship existing between the police and the people of the Lagos. The fact that a police Commissioner will personally lead an operation to rescue one of those victims go a long way to show the importance he attaches to the unfortunate cases which should be aptly tagged man’s inhumanity to man.
“Secondly, the response from members of the public is highly commendable and should be encouraged. This is because it is a prelude to getting more credible information about crime in their respective areas and passing it to the police for action. We expect the police to intensify efforts towards fishing out more of such wicked people in our society while I will urge members of the public not to hesitate in exposing anybody involved in such callous and inhuman act against children.”