According to a report by Punch Metro, the whereabouts of a 14-year-old boy, Idris, are still shrouded in mystery about two weeks after he absconded from his father’s house in Seme, a border town between Lagos and Benin Republic.
Idris was said to have fled home with his siblings, Musa, 10 and eight-year-old Abeeb to Oshodi and turned them to beggars.
After spending some days sleeping at trailer parks, Idris reportedly moved his brothers to Lagos Island to continue with the begging.
It was learnt that the boys were thrown into confusion when they woke up on Tuesday, December 10, and could not see Idris again.
It was gathered that some Good Samaritans who saw them wandering around the CMS area took them to the Adeniji Adele Police Station.
Musa has speech defect and could only hear our correspondent but his younger brother, Abeeb, narrated their experience to City Round in Yoruba.
He said their aunt who lives with them, one Laba, had wanted to punish them for not sweeping the room and Idris absconded with them late evening to evade the punishment.
Abeeb explained that his brother did not tell them where they were heading for and their mission until they got to Oshodi where they started begging.
He said, “I am from Seme. Idris took us away from home one evening and took us to Oshodi. We slept around trailer parks and the following day, he took us to Lagos Island. We were all begging for money to eat. We slept in front of a shop at night but we woke up one morning and did not see Idris again. Some people now brought us to the police station.
“It was our aunt called Laba who wanted to beat us that evening because we did not sweep the room. That was why Idris ran away from home with us. He had fled home before. He was found some days after and brought back home.”
Abeeb, who said his father sells CDs while his mother is a hairdresser, stated that he had yet to be enrolled in school.
“I was going to a children’s class before my daddy stopped me,” he added.
A source at the police station told our correspondent on Wednesday that Abeeb and his brother looked dirty and dishevelled when they were brought, noting that they had to get other clothes for them.
He said some human rights groups were involved in the search for the children’s parents, adding that their parents later contacted the station on Tuesday.
The source stated, “The mother eventually came on Wednesday evening but the children didn’t want to follow her initially. She said they had been living with their father for many years after they separated. She said the father did not allow her to take custody of the children.
“They were found around CMS on Tuesday, December 10. The younger boy was the one giving us some information because his elder brother cannot talk.”
The mother, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone, said she did not want to release the children to her ex-husband after the collapse of their marriage but he forcefully collected them.
The woman, who gave her name simply as Josephine, said, “We had to involve the police that time and they allowed him to go with the three children. With the little I realise from my hair dressing work, I would use it to take care of them.”
Women Protection Organisation (WOPO), a non-governmental organisation following up the case, said the group engaged some human rights bodies in Badagry to locate the parents.
The Chief Executive Director of WOPO, Mrs Oluwatoyin Towobola, urged the government to empower indigent parents so they could take up their responsibilities. She also enjoined parents to avoid exposing children to anti-social behaviour.
She said, “Parents of indigent children like these need to be empowered by the government so that they would not expose the kids to all sorts of negative acts such as begging. The parents also need to take up their responsibilities.”
Towobola stated that her organisation was also on a case of a 10-year-old girl, Grace Godwin, who ran away from her aunt for allegedly maltreating her, adding that the girl had been taken to the Jakande Police Station, Ajah.
She reportedly fled home because the aunt ordered her to eat a spoiled soup which she (Godwin) forgot to warm.
Towobola stated, “She said her aunt asked her to eat the soup or she would pour hot water on her. As a result, she fled the house on December 3, 2019. Some people saw her wandering on the street on December 12 and took her to Jakande Police Station. She said her mother’s name is Ngozi Godwin and that she is a widow, while her father’s name is Odo Godwin alias Oyoyo.
“According to the girl, her mother allowed her to follow the aunt to Lagos because she promised to take her to school. We enjoin her parents to come forward.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bala Elkana, confirmed that the children had been reunited with their mother.