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Concerns as cases of child abuse rise

Child abuse has become a recurrent decimal and a major concern  in the Nigerian society. The acts which occur in diverse magnitudes are not only…

Child abuse has become a recurrent decimal and a major concern  in the Nigerian society. The acts which occur in diverse magnitudes are not only perpetrated in homes but also in schools as well as secret places.  Perpetrators include parents, mothers, step mothers, teachers, care givers  school mates and several other culprits. Not only  sympathisers but also United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), child rights and humanitarian groups frown at the menace. According to available data, about 66 children of different ages had been subjected to different degrees of the nefarious acts  in the last one year (between March 2021 and March 2022). Daily Trust on Sunday highlights some cases in different parts of the country.

Child abuse is not just physical violence directed at a child but also any form of neglect or maltreatment by an adult which is violent or traumatic to the child. Any emotional, physical or sexual mistreatment  to a child under 18 years old and below is considered child abuse.

Apart from deaths that result from the physical violence aspect of child abuse, the act can also result in harm to the victims’ health, survival, development,  dignity, responsibility, trust, confidence or psyche.    

Culprits carry out the nefarious acts with a reckless abandon,  incautious of the pains and dangers that they subject their victims to as well as the damning consequences that they, too have to face. 

Findings by Daily Trust on Sunday indicated that the various offences for which the victims are abused are mostly flimsy, while others lack specific or justifiable reason.   

Despite a United Nations charter which provides for the protection and rights of children, routinely stories break of one abuse or the other on a minor in Nigeria. 

The 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which adopted an international agreement on childhood, described a child as somebody under 18 years of age. 

The convention also mandated governments of various countries to protect children from  abuse by anyone.  

However, cases of child abuse abound in different parts of the country.

Kano, Bayelsa and Kogi states recorded some incidents recently.

In Bayelsa State, apart from previous occurrences, recently witnessed a child abuse case when a 39-year-old woman, Esther Otoniye, allegedly burnt her 10-year-old step-daughter’s buttocks with hot knife and pressing iron at Akenfa community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state. 

This was in defiance to calls by concerned citizens for full implementation of child rights law domesticated in the state since 2016 when it was passed into law by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly and assented to by Governor Douye Diri. 

The incident which attracted condemnation from child rights activists and other Nigerians, however, attracted the attention of the operatives of the Bayelsa State Police Command who arrested the suspected step-mother and detained her at the State Criminal Investigation Department for investigation.

The accused, who was said to have denied the act, claimed that hot water accidentally dropped on the girl’s buttocks in the kitchen.

In January, a 38-year-old father, Baridap Needman, was arrested by the police in Bayelsa State for allegedly impregnating his biological daughter.

The suspect was said to have carried out the abomination at his residence along PDP Road, Yenagoa, the state capital.

The suspect was arrested, following a formal complaint from the State Gender Advocacy group, Gender Response Initiative Team (GRIT).

In 2016, a minor, Rita Ese Oruru, eloped from her mother’s shop and taken to Kano State by a young man called Yunusa Yellow. She was married to him but was later rescued with about three-month-old pregnancy. 

Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that several cases of child abuse abound in the state. Between 2021 and now, about 50 incidents of child abuse have  been recorded in the state. 

It was against this backdrop that Governor Diri, last year, constituted a Gender Response Initiative Team with a child rights advocate, Barr Dise Ogbise, as the chairman.

Speaking on the rising incidents of child abuse, the Chairman of Bayelsa State Gender Response Initiative Team (GRIT) and founder, Do Foundation, Barr. Dise Ogbise, said that one of the major causes of child abuse in the state was that most children were not living with their biological parents as well as separation of spouses. 

Ogbise added that most parents do not know that there was a law that stipulates punishment for perpetrators of child abuse. 

According to her, the child rights law had been domesticated in the state since 2016 and its contents had already been invoked, with the state government using it to prosecute offenders of child abuse. 

A child rights advocacy group in the state, ‘Standup for Women Society’ blamed the upsurge in cases of child abuse in the state to parental neglect.

The chairperson of the group, Liberator Eunice Nnachi, who lamented the menace said: “Sometimes,  children are afraid to speak up because of fear that the person who is abusing them is too important or powerful. They also have doubt that the society will not believe their stories. They may also feel ashamed, embarrassed or worry that they are to blame on the issue.

“The parents have a lot of work to do here. They should build confidence in their children so that they would  have the courage to speak out in the case of abuse.”

Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, also recorded a sordid incident of child abuse by a foster mother, who attacked a primary two boy, David Mathew Ewongolu, with  wire for using his cloth to make a duster. The whip left terrible sores on the buttocks of the lad so much that he finds it difficult to sit.

The incident which took place at a Mammy  Market settlement in a suburb of  the city, drew the ire of many residents and sympathisers.

The victim was taken  to a specialist hospital in Lokoja for treatment of the sores that look like burns from a hot electric pressing  iron.

 Daily Trust on Sunday  gathered that  the duster episode was  the last straw that brought the plight of the young boy to notice as he was alleged to have been under silent torture  by  the step mother at home over  any slightest provocation.  A close source said  there had been no love lost between him and the  mother.

We also gathered that  apart from the physical torture, the boy has  had a set back in his educational pursuit as he was reportedly withdrawn from primary five  to two on account of poor academic performance in school last year.

Our correspondent gathered that the plight of Ewongolu, who is the only male child out of the four children of his father, was due to lack of parental care as a his father,  who is a soldier,  is reportedly having a lingering marital crisis his mother who now resides in Nasarawa.  Consequently, he married another woman, Elizabeth Abuh, who allegedly lost her husband during a Nigerian Army  peace-keeping operation in the northern part of the country some years ago. 

According to a source , Elizabeth and her four children that she had for her deceased first  husband are living in a well  furnished house in Lokoja.  The house was allegedly  bankrolled with the gratuity of the late husband.

Ewongolu’s father compelled him to live with him and the step mother  in Lokoja to continue his education.  But his father was later  transferred to Delta State military formation and left him alone with the step mother.  It is all these twists that  exposed  Ewongolu to his present predicament.

When  Governor  Yahaya Bello  got the report of his plight, he  alerted the Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Fatima  Buba about it,  leading to the arrest  and prosecution of the step mother.

The Child Affairs Department of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development told Daily Trust on Sunday  that she had severally  evaded moves to arrest  her  until she was arrested at last.

Concerns as cases of child abuse rise


Hajiya Fatima  Buba told our correspondent  in an interview  that she personally led the operation that led to the woman’s  arrest.

“We arrested her through our legal unit, took her  to the police authority and she has been charged to court for child abuse and maltreatment,” she said.

Buba said that the young boy was responding to treatment at the state specialist hospital, Lokoja , where he is being taken care of by his biological mother.  She added that  the state government was also  bankrolling his hospital  bills.

The Kogi State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Fatima Buba, said Ewongolu had been discharged from the Specialist Hospital, Lokoja, to continue his treatment in Nassarwa State.

Buba said the move was intended to ease the burden of responsibility on the victim’s mother who has been in Lokoja to attend to him.

Meanwhile, the  Upper Area Court  sitting in Lokoja,  on 29th March,  adjourned the case of the  suspect (Elizabeth)  till  April 12 for further hearing. 

She was ordered to be remanded in the Correction Centre, Okene, till next hearing of  the case.

However, she said the state had domesticated Child Right Act  that  was signed into law in 2009. She added that  every child in the state had the right to be born and live well, including  protection, education and health care  services.

Hajia Buba assured that government would handle the Ewongolu incident logically and the culprit would be brought to law.

She, however, advised parents to always pay proper attention to  their children, have time for their upbringing and avoid giving them  to anybody any how for upkeep.  

The Executive Director, Challenged Parenthood Initiatives(CPI), Eunice Abimbola Agbogun, who condemned the abuse of the lad, said that her organisation had been  in touch with the parent ministry and security agencies until the woman was arrested.

The Executive Director of CPI , a  gender-sensitive Non-Governmental Organization, commended governor Bello for assuring that government  would foot all the treatment bills.

She, however,  urged the governor to assent to the Kogi State Violence Against Prohibition Persons Bill (VAPP)passed by the state assembly about a year ago because it has the power  to checkmate  rising violence and child abuse in the society.

She noted that that the VAPP bill’s regime  would reduce the rate of abuses and violence being  perpetrated against women and children in the state.

Agbogun stressed that there had been many more horrible incidents of child abuse than that of  Ewongolu which the bill would tackle.

Kano State, too, witnessed a child abuse case recently when a Qur’anic school teacher, Mallam Mahmud brutalized a nine-year-old almajiri, Muhammed Garba,  for not bringing him food.

Daily Trust on Sunday  gathered that the teacher  was fond of beating the boy  so much that all his body would be lacerated with cane bruises. The boy would roam the streets begging and would not be able to find his way back to school which he referred to as Mahmud School; and whenever he returns without food for the teacher, he would subject him to brutalization.

A video of young Garba’s abuse by the teacher has been trending on the social media.

“He always beats me when I come back from begging without any food for him (the teacher), “ the young Garba reportedly said.

Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that the  teacher had been on the run as both the police and a Kano child rights  agency have been on his trail. The arrest move, it was gathered, was further confounded by the inability of the victim to recall the location of the Islamiyya school, except the name of the school—Malam Mahmud School.

But the police, however,  assured that they would not leave any stone unturned in the quest to apprehend the suspect and ensure justice is served.  

Apart from the recent incident in Bayelsa, Kogi and Kano, other states, according to data report, have also witnessed a series of  child abuse cases in recent past.

In Calabar, Cross River State, a mother, Mrs Tina Idoroyen, dipped the hands of a five-year-old  girl into hot water for stealing fish.  This happened in February.

In Mowe area of Ogun State, Aisha Tijani, a mother, set a 10-year-old girl ablaze over phone.  The incident also took place in February.

In the same month, a woman,  an aunt to a 12-year-old  girl, Christiana Akankpa, bathed her with a mixture of oil and hot water.

In Adamawa, Yohana Saidolo, sold off eight children in Koma Village also in February.

Several other child abuse incidents also took place in different parts of the country in February this year.

At Arise and Shine Nursery/Primary School,  in Delta State, a teacher, Mr Emeka Nwogbo, flogged  Obinna Adeze, a 19-month-old child to death.

In Idi Mango area of Akure, Ondo State, Mrs Opeyemi Omoyemi inflicted razor blade cuts on a 12-year-old boy,  Joel Sunday,  for stealing meat from a cooking pot.  

A six-month-old baby was also allegedly strangled by a man,  Chiamaka Odo on the orders of witches.

January also recorded some child abuse cases.

A senior student at Elkanemi College of Islamic College, Maiduguri, slit the throat of  an 11-year-old boy, Jibril Mato.

In Emene area of Enugu State, Ifeanyi, a 52-year-old father killed three girls—Chidalum 11, Amarachi 8 and Ebubechukwu 4 and dumped them in an unused freezer.

Also, Mr Alloy beat a 12-year-old boy Sunday, to death over 1,000 at Salako-Ogba area of  Lagos.

In December last year, child abuse cases also played out in different parts of the country.  

A genital mutilation was carried out on a girl  by  a 51-year-old man, Rasaki Ogunbodede and 54-year-old woman Zainab Bello on two-year-old girl in Asipa area of Oyo Town in the same month.

Some child abuse incidents also took place in some states in November last year.   

 In Isale-Osun, Olanrewaju Adenike,  an aunt to a six-year-old girl, Aisha Taiwo, locked her up in a dirty room for months.  In Rivers, Chibuzor Amadi and Keneth Sylvanus  severed the head of a nine-year-old boy.  

Also, Mr Sanjo, a father, beat a two-month-old baby to death in Alekwuwodo area of Osogbo, Osun State, for crying continuously.

 A mother, also threw an eight-year-old and 11-year-old girls into a well in Osogbo, the state capital.

In October,  Chidi Onyichi, a father,  killed a seven-year-old boy at Coal Camp, Enugu, for ritual.

September last year also recorded  another serious child abuse incident when Vwede, a father, beat a two-year-old boy to death at Imiringi area of Bayelsa State.

Kano recorded a similar incident in the same month when a 35-year-old father, Lawal Bello, beat a 10-year-old boy, Abubakar Abbah to death at Rijiya Biyu area of the state.     

In Makarafa -Huta, Potiskum,  Yobe State,  Khadija Yakubu, a step mother, poisoned tea for four children of Mr Haruna:  Zainab 7, Ahmed, 9 Umar, 12 and  Maryam 13.

 At Aba Road in Umuahi, Abia State,  Ojiugo David, an employer made a 10-year-old boy, Ifunanya,  to drink hot water  mixed with pepper in  Augustm last year.  

In the same month,  it was discovered that  Maryam Dauda starved  her 12-year-old- son for years at Unguwar Liman, Kano.  

In Iyana Emirin, Ado Ekiti, Mrs Titilayo Ayeni stabbed a 15-year-old girl in the same month last year.   

In Lagos,  a boy of eight years was assaulted and locked up for six months by his aunt,  Mrs Sharon Williams, at Gberigbe area of Ikorodu Lagos in July 2021.  

In Ogijo area of Ogun State,  Kafayat Lawal, 45, locked, beat and  stabbed  Blessing Adekoya and Ayomide Adekoya 19  and 17 respectively the same month.  Ayomide died from the stabbing.

In Budo Gidi, Kwara State,  Yahaya Mohammed, a father, threw a cutlass at his 10-year-old son, Aliyu Mohammed and killed him.  The incident also happened in July, 2021.

In June, Nnenna Sunday killed a three-year-old boy with a machete in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.  

A two-week-old baby was also killed during a fight between the parents- Mr Ekene and Rose Ijokun at Elwyowo Village, Akure, Ondo State in May.

At Cinema area in Sokoto,  a 12-year-old girl, Esther Emmanuel,  was caged by Joy Emmanue, her aunt,  Esther and Emmanuel Bassey for eight months in the same month.

In April last year, part of the body of a 13-year-old girl was slashed with a razor blade and robbed with pepper and kerosene by her mother, Mrs Eriye Richman, at Okutukutu, Yenagoa.  

A three-year-old boy  was killed with snipper by  Mrs Nnenna Egwuagwu  at Umulumgbe , Enugu State, in the same month.

In March, a month-old baby was killed and the corpse thrown into a river by Sukurat Olajoke in Ogun State.

Clement Adeyi, Haruna Ibrahim (Abuja), Bassey Willie (Yenagoa) & Tijani Labaran (Lokoja)