By Amos Igbebe
There was anger, Monday, at the Effurun Magisterial District Court 1 in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State where a middle aged woman, Mrs. Chibuzor Onyeji, was arraigned for inflicting various degrees of burns on a 13 year old teenager, Miss Chinemerem Nworie, after her husband, Francis Onyeji, was reported to have had carnal knowledge of her for over two years.
It was more of a drama in the court as it took the Magistrate to calm frail nerves when the accused was brought to court to defend her inhuman action against the poor teenager. Almost all the lawyers in the court, on seeing the victim, were up against the lawyer of the accused who was brought in from Onitsha after he argued that it was only an accident and that his client had the right to be angry as a human being.
As the court session progressed, the accused knelt down and pleaded with the 13 year old to forgive her after she had pleaded not guilty to a one count charge of assault and inflicting grievous injuries on the poor teenager.
The Magistrate, His Worship Mrs. Blessing Ideh, however, granted the accused bail because she is a nursing mother of three month old baby with the sum of N500,000 (Five Hundred thousand naira) with a surety in like sum which included a landed property within the Magisterial District which must be confirmed by court officials.
Also, the joint prayer of the Child Welfare and Development Officer from the Delta State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Lopgun Solomon and Joshua Omorere of the Nigerian Child Welfare Fund, a Non-Governmental Organisation who prayed the court to be given the victim’s custody was granted, despite the appeal of Pius Nworie to take his daughter (Chinemerem) home.
The case has been adjourned till July 21, 2015, when the victim is likely to be reunited with her biological parents.
Chinemerem’s ordeal, a J.S.S 2 student of Ekpan Basic Secondary School in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, started when it was discovered that her aunty’s husband was having an affair with her in the home.
Investigations revealed that she had gone to school with N1,500 which her aunt’s husband, Mr. Francis Onyeji, now at large, gave her after sleeping with her. The money, according to her, she usually spends on books as well as snacks as her aunt seldom gives her food at home.
It was learnt that Onyeji has been abusing her sexually over two years whenever he was off duty as he was said to be an offshore worker. To prevent her from exposing the ills, he gives her money after the illicit act. She said when she discovered that part of the money she brought to school was missing after break time, she reported the matter to her class teacher.
It was gathered that after a futile search for the money, her class mates who claimed they were wrongly accused followed her home after closing and reported the case to Mrs. Chibuzor Onyeji, whom she said is her second cousin and has been staying with her since 2010.
The visibly demoralized Chinemerem said, “When my aunt asked me where I got the money from and l told her it was her husband who gave me the money after sleeping with me, she said it was a lie.
“In the night at about 9.30pm, she woke me up and put a knife on the fire and started to use it on my body, saying she will kill me half dead. She used pestle to hit my head several times and iron rod to hit my ankles”.
Soft spoken Chinemerem , third out of six girls, who spoke English fluently continued, “she said, she wanted to pour hot water on me, but she later said no, when we come back from school she will do that and put the knife in my chest.; this other old mark on my back was when she asked me to boil yam, she said the sizes were too big and she took from the boiling yam and zip down my dress, and place a piece of yam on my back”
Luck, however, ran out of the suspect when she brought Chinemerem to school with the intention of giving her a public disgrace. But rather than disgrace the poor teenage girl, the confession of the girl led to her arrest. But her husband, on hearing the case against him, fled out of the vicinity.
Chinemerem who is receiving treatment at one of the private hospitals in Warri said she has forgiven her aunt but not without a word of advice for her. She said, “I have forgiven her, but she should not maltreat other people’s children. I would love to go and meet my parents and leave everything to God”, she said softly.