Eight-year-old Amarachi Oha, from Ugwueme town in Agwu Local Government Area of Enugu State, was last week rescued by the Human Rights Legal Aid Initiative from a couple she lives with as a house help in Anambra State.
Mrs Ogochukwu Anichukwu and her husband, Mr. Emmanuel Anichukwu, had inflicted severe bodily injuries on Amarachi due to constant beatings with hard objects, they starve her, and have left her with festering sores on her fingers.
Ogochukwu, not satisfied with the level of injuries inflicted on the girl, had last week poured hot water on Amarachi for allegedly licking her baby’s milk, despite the poor girl still nursing previous hot water burn on her back.
Amarachi was ordered by her madam to always stay indoors so that neighbours would not raise an eyebrow over her latest wickedness, but fortunately, a visitor to the house who saw the dehumanizing state of the girl reported the couple to the Human Rights Legal Aid Initiative in Ekwulobia, Anambra State.
Following the report, the couple was arrested by the police from the Area Command Uga, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The woman told Daily Trust that she poured hot water on the girl because she licked her baby’s milk and was fond of touching her male children’s private parts and also fingering her little daughter in her absence.
“I poured her hot water because she has become immune to beating. When she is beaten, she doesn’t feel the pains anymore.”
On whether she would mete out the same punishment on her children if they commit the same offence, she said “Yes, I will do the same to my own children if they drink the baby’s milk.”
On why she had not taken the girl to hospital for treatment even when she was visibly in pains, she said there was no money to take her to hospital. “We are treating her in the house.”
According to her, they were unable to take her back to her parents because they couldn’t get through to her mother on phone.
Ogochukwu denied the girl’s claims that she eats sand due to starvation, saying “the girl said she just loves eating sand and not because she was not being fed.”
When Daily Trust spoke with Amarachi on her sick bed at the General Hospital Ekwuluobia, she said she never took any milk and does not know anything about the milk in question.
She said her madam beats her always and in the case in question, told her to agree that she took the milk.
On why she eats sand, she said she ate sand in order not to die of hunger.
Speaking to Daily Trust, the coordinator of Human Rights Legal Aid Initiative Ekwulobia zone, Comrade Emmanuel Akanaeme, said a man walked into their office on Thursday with the complaint of a little girl who was being maltreated by a couple she lives with.
When they traced the house the next day, they found the girl in pains with injuries all over her body.
“The girl was badly injured. She was pale, haggard-looking with protruding stomach,” he said.
“The girl looked frail, hungry, malnourished and traumatised.
“When we asked the woman what happened, she said that she mistakenly poured hot water on her.
“And when we took the child aside to interrogate her, she said that she was hungry and wanted to eat fufu before she could have the strength to talk and we promised to give her the food if she will tell us the truth.
“After eating the food, the girl told us all she’s been through in the hands of the couple.
“We told the husband to take the girl to a hospital and they should report to our office on Monday but they never honoured our invitations.
“When we waited till Tuesday and they didn’t turn up, we had no option but to invite the police and posted the news on social media to see if the parents of the girl could see her.
“They said they couldn’t get the girl’s parents on phone but as soon as we called, we got the mother.”
The President General of Ugwueme Town Union, Hon. Gideon Nwafor, called on governments at all levels to come to the aid of the girl in helping her overcome the trauma and psychological torture she went through in the hands of the couple who were supposed to protect her.
“This is the height of inhumanity to the girl child. I was shocked that a woman could do this to a fellow woman’s child.
The father of the girl, Mr Ifeanyichukwu Oha, said the mother did not tell her before she released her to become a house help, though they are separated.
“I’ve been separated from the mother since 2011 and the child was born in 2012.
“Though she is not my child, but I came here to see what happened because life is involved.
“She is not my child but by our tradition, if a man’s wife gets children outside when the bride price had not been repaid, the child still belongs to the man,” he said.
Mother of the girl, Mrs Florence Oha, has appealed to government to assist her so that her daughter can be normal and walk well again.
“My prayer is for my child to be well again. I did not send her out because I cannot feed her.”
Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C.Don Adinuba, said they were not aware of the incident, but thanked our correspondent for drawing their attention to the incident.
“This is inhuman and cruel. By Monday, government will do something about it,” he said.
Calls and messages to the spokesman of Anambra State Police Command, Haruna Mohammed, and the state commissioner for woman and child affairs, Mrs Ndidi Mezue, were not returned.