By Izunna Okafor, Awka
A herbalist, Mr. Sunday Ezeh, was, on Tuesday, arrested for maltreating and allegedly attempting to use her daughter for ritual purposes in Anambra State.
The Public Relations Officer of the Anambra State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Chidinma Ikeanyionwu, made this known in a statement issued in Awka, the State capital, on Tuesday.
According to her, the 17-year-old victim hails from Nise in Awka South Local Government Area of the State.
She further explained that the survivor, who is currently hospitalized at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Amaku, Awka, was rescued through the intervention of the State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Mrs. Ify Obinabo, who intervened immediately she received information from some good-spirited individuals in the community, about the inhumane treatments meted out to the victim by her father.
This was corroborated by a video from the hospital, which also shows the victim lying in the hospital bed, with a swollen head, bruised ankle, disfigured arm, and other various degrees of injuries on different parts of her body. There were also cannulas fixed on different parts of her body for medication purposes, while her legs and hands are clothed with bandages. The suspect, her father, was also standing beside her hospital bed.
When interrogated by the Commissioner, the suspect, Mr. Ezeh, who said he was a herbalist, claimed that he beat the daughter and hit her on the head for defecating and urinating around, after having severally warned her against that.
“She was defecating and urinating in every room. And, even after I warned her several times against that, she continued doing it,” he said (in Igbo language).
It was gathered that Mr. Ezeh, after maltreating the child, tied her up at the backyard, and also denied her food and water, until someone residents discovered that and raised the alarm.
When asked why he didn’t take the child to hospital after the maltreatment, the suspect,, claimed that he didn’t have money to take her to the hospital. He further claimed that he needed financial help to fend for his family.
Mr. Eze, who denied attempting using her daughter for rituals, also confessed to have married more than one wife and divorced all, including the mother of the victim, whom she divorced after a little altercation.
While noting that he maltreated the child out of anger, he also pleaded for mercy, adding that it was the handiwork of the devil.
On her own part, the victim, Miss Ezeh said her father had earlier bound her hands and feet and locked her up in a room for a month, adding that it was the bamboo that he repeatedly hit her on the head in his most recent beating that caused her swollen head.
While noting that she couldn’t recall what her offence was even when she regained her consciousness, she said she was told by her father that she was defecating around the compound, which, he said, made him maltreat her that way.
In her reaction, Commissioner Obinabo, who was visibly angry at the rate of child abuse and inhumane treatments being meted out to the vulnerable group in the state, utterly condemned Mr. Ezeh’s action, describing it as heartless, inhumane and unjustifiable. She also opined that the case, which she tagged an attempted murder, might also have some ritual undertones.
She went further to warn that anyone caught abusing any child in Anambra state must face the full weight of the law, even as she appreciated everyone who contributed in one way or the other to the discovery and rescue of child. She also advised the citizens to raise alarm anytime they notice what is not going well in their areas.
The Commissioner, who also frowned at the rate at the rate of barbaric cultural rituals and harmful traditional practices championed and propagated by herbalists today, further ordered that the suspect be handed over to the Anambra State Police Command for further investigation and immediate prosecution.
It was gathered that the victim had had a successful emergency surgery on her head, and is currently receiving medical attention at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Amaku, Awka.
Meanwhile, the case has been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Amawbia, while the suspect would be charged to court soon, upon the completion of the investigation.