By Dayo Johnson, Akure
WHY four-year-old girl, Testimony Toke Babalola, was reportedly whipped to death by her parents in Akure, Ondo State capital few weeks ago has been unravelled.
The girl had been rushed to the State University Teaching Hospital, Akure Annex where she was confirmed dead.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the parents used horsewhip on the daughter, leaving several marks on her body after reportedly committing a yet to be ascertained offence.
The leadership of Ondo State Chapter of the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, which visited the church of the girl’s mother, said, “Testimony had been going through beating and torture administered by her parents in a bid to cast out evil spirit (witchcraft) from her”.
The NAWOJ leader, Mrs Doris Olumoko, narrating their findings, said, “Parish Priest of Mary Queen of Angels Catholic Church, Akure, Reverend Father Mathew Ologun, got wind of the ill-treatment meted out to the child on June 2 through the church children’s caregiver who noticed scars all over her body.
“The Rev. Father explained that the father of the girl, Mr. Felix Babalola, who attends one white garment church, claimed that the girl was possessed with evil spirit and that all the marks in her body were as a result of the church deliverance style.
“However, unknown to the church, the beating and torture of Testimony continued until she was rushed to hospital dead.
“The father said his church (Cherubim and Seraphim) told him that his daughter was possessed and needed deliverance, hence the constant beating.
“Before the beating started, the father was said to have also claimed that the girl was over-pampered by her grandmother who she had been living with in Ikare-Akoko since age nine months before being taken back to Akure recently.
“The head of the Children Department told us that she observed the girl’s predicament in June during the church Children’s Day anniversary.
“The head of the Children Department told us that when she confronted the mother to know how the girl had so many marks on her body, she said it was due to the punishment she used to get from her father for being stubborn.
“The mother was said to have claimed that the father used to administer punishment on the girl whenever she failed to kneel down and greet him, saying they were trying to teach her moral lessons which she didn’t get in grandma’s place”.
The father of the deceased, according to sources, absconded when he found out that the police were on his trail.
A worker in the hospital, where the deceased was rushed to, said that after the mother who brought her was questioned about the horsewhip marks on the deceased, she fled with the corpse.
“She became agitated when she was questioned and some people started taking the picture of the girl with several horsewhip marks on her backside.
“After she suspected that the hospital management may invite the police, she grabbed the corpse of the girl and fled the hospital. All efforts to stop her proved abortive”, the worker said.
“The woman brought the girl to the children’s emergency ward for treatment.
“As we tried to attend to her, we noticed that the girl had been maltreated to the point of death”.
Another source in the hospital said, “If you see the body of the girl, it was a case of child abuse as there were serious marks of beating all over her. “By the time the doctor on duty could attend to her, it was discovered that she even brought in the child dead.
“The doctor had to tell the woman that the kid she brought to the hospital was dead already.
“The woman grabbed the girl and ran away”.
Speaking on the incident, the Administrative Secretary of the hospital, Dayo Owoseni, said, “I only heard about the incident and we have asked the doctor on duty to come over and explain what happened to us”.
Police detectives in the state have been on the trail of the parents since the mother who brought the girl to the hospital escaped with her corpse.
Meanwhile the mother of the deceased girl has been arrested while the husband is declared wanted.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the mother, during interrogation, said that her present husband was not the father of Testimony.
She told police detectives that she gave birth to the girl before she married her present husband.
The parents were trailed to Ikare-Akoko but some youths prevented detectives from arresting them.
They were later handed over to the traditional ruler of the town who reportedly promised to hand them over to the police.
But it was learnt that the parents escaped from the palace while the mother was picked up by police detectives acting on a tip-off. The husband, who reportedly got wind of the arrest of the wife, went underground.
Ondo State Police Command spokesperson, Femi Joseph, confirmed the arrest of the girl’s mother adding that the father was still on the run.