YENAGOA – The Police in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, has confirmed the arrest of one Pastor Fine Oru, who was said to have burnt the face of her 10-year-old niece, Grace Opion, with a hot spoon.
The Police Public Relations Officer of the Bayelsa State Police Command, Mr Alex Akhigbe, who confirmed the arrest to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday, said that investigation into the incident had commenced.
“I detailed the Azikoro Police Division to arrest the pastor immediately I got wind of the incident.’’
NAN reports that Oru is the Assistant General Overseer of the Heart Beat of God Bible Church, Ompadec road, Yenagoa.
Akhigbe told NAN that Oru, 46, hails from Otuoke in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa, and resides at Egbenda Community, off Ox-Bow road, Yenagoa.
He said that Oru told the Police that Opion is the daughter of her younger sister and a pupil at Kingdom Success Academy within the neighbourhood.
He said the accused, who claimed to have been a pastor for 16 years, inflicted the injury on Opion because of what she did to her one year old grandson.
The PPRO said she left the little boy in her care and travelled to Otuoke on Friday for a burial and that it was on Saturday morning that she noticed that part of the boy’s face was burnt and that the boy told her the girl was responsible for it.
According to her, when she asked the girl what happened, she told her that she used the spoon to slap him as they were cooking.
“I said okay, don’t worry. What you did to him, I will also do to you. As I was trying to do her the thing, she was struggling.
“I and my sister, we were telling her to keep her face steady so that the hot spoon will not touch all her face, but she refused. So the thing now burnt her face like this,’’ the pastor said.
The pastor was said to have abandoned the girl in her pains, and even the boy she claimed was also burnt and went to the market.
It was the cry of the girl in pains that attracted the attention of neighbours who in turn alerted the police.
Opion who narrated what happened, said that while she was cooking, the little boy picked the spoon where she kept it, and touched it on his face.
The pastor was subsequently arrested by officers from the Azikoro Police Division.
However, NAN learnt that a concerned resident contacted the Senior Special Assistant to Gov. Seriake Dickson on Girl Child Education, Mrs Juliet Konodufaowei, who arrived at the scene.
In an interview with NAN, Konodufaowei described the pastor’s behaviour as wicked and barbaric.
She said it was because of incidents of this sort that prompted the governor to set up of a committee on violence against women and the girl child.
“The governor has said that people should no longer treat children with cruelty.
“This is not right; how can a woman put a spoon on the fire and burn a child’s face? There is no reason for that. You can see that the child’s face is already disfigured.
“This is wickedness; there are better ways you can train up a child. It is because she is not her biological child that is why she is treating her like this.
“So we can’t take this. She is going to be charged for violence against this child.
“We are going to trace the parents of this child, and we are going to ask them why this woman is living with this child.
“You never can tell, this child might be a sister or a relation to this woman, and maybe she said she wants to help.’’
The governor’s aide advised that those who could no longer keep other peoples’ children should to take them back to their parents.
“If the child gives you so many headaches that you can’t curtail, you return the child back. That is what we always advise.
“For those parents who give their children out, and don’t care to know about their welfare, whatever happens to the children, we get them also involved and arrest them,’’ Konodufaowei said.