A 10-year-old girl resident in Sandfield Estate, Satellite Town, Lagos, has been rescued from her guardian identified simply as Mrs Anaeme, who tortured her for allegedly being a witch.
The woman had reportedly subjected the little girl, Chidera, to serial assaults with marks of violence visible all over her body.
It was gathered that the torture took the worst dimension recently when Anaeme reportedly used a hot object to inflict injuries on the girl’s back.
Neighbours, who know about her ordeal, were said to have informed the estate chairman and managed to capture a video clip of the injuries.
The case was consequently reported at the Agboju Police Station, leading to Anaeme’s arrest on Wednesday.
There are, however, concerns that the case could be brushed under the carpet as the suspect was released the following day on the grounds that she is nursing a year old child.
The estate Chairman, Donald Ejikeme, said he called the Divisional Police Officer of the station when she found that the woman had been released but he was told that she would be transferred to the Gender Unit of the Lagos State Police Command in Ikeja on Monday.
He said, “Some months ago, I was driving out of the estate in the morning when I saw the little girl, carrying a bucket around. I had to stop and collected the bucket from her. I asked her why she was carrying a bucket when other children were in school. She was mute. I took a second look at her and noticed that she was unkempt and there were bruises all over her body.
“I asked our security man to get her details. I didn’t see her again afterward until a neighbour came to report to me that the girl cries every night because her guardian usually locks her up in the toilet and torture her.
“I asked the neighbour to get video evidence so we can take it up. I then reported the case to the DPO on Wednesday. When I saw the woman walking around the estate on Thursday, I had to call the DPO and he promised that she would be taken to gender unit on Monday.”
Ejikeme said on the day Anaeme was arrested, the police found the girl in a church where the woman took her to for deliverance.
He added, “She said the girl possesses evil spirit. The pastor was arrested. He denied telling the woman that the girl is a witch. He was later released after some elders in the church intervened.”
An executive member of a rights group, Advocate for Children and Vulnerable Persons Network of Nigeria, Mr Osita Osemene, said the group had taken up the matter to ensure that justice is served.
He stated, “The woman should be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent. She claimed that the girl was possessed and burnt her back. Neighbours complained that she beat the girl every day. Even if the girl is her child, she has no right to treat her that way. We are taking up the matter.”
Our correspondent could not reach the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Bala Elkana, on his mobile and he had yet to reply to a text message sent to him.
But a police source at the Agboju Division confirmed the assault on Chidera, adding that there was no attempt to bury the case.
The source said, “The woman was not exonerated. She was only allowed to go home and report back to the station on Monday because she is a nursing mother. The case will be transferred to the Gender Unit in Ikeja on Monday. This is not a case that can be swept under the carpet.
“The suspect said her pastor told her that the girl is possessed. She said she was told that the girl is a witch and would kill her child in five days’ time. The woman put a stone on fire and pressed it on the girl’s body. We have rescued the girl and she is with us.”