A nine-year-old girl, working as a child labourer in the home of the Executive Secretary of the Kogi State Scholarship Board, is now living with a deformed foot following a near-death experience in the hands of her Madam who pinned her feet to a hot barbecue stone until the child wailed and passed out. By the time the young girl came to, the soles of her feet were burnt with one badly so she would need a plastic surgery.
Mrs Rebecca Acheneje Omacho, the Executive Secretary, of Kogi Scholarship Board is currently facing trial at the Family High Court, Lokoja, Kogi State, for “ill-treatment of a child and causing grievous body harm”.
A neighbour who would not want her name disclosed, told SATELLITE TIMES that the maid, Favour Makola, then 9 years old had, “…her foot forced onto a hot stone and held down until the sole of her foot peeled off. The neighbour immediately called the Police who rescued, and rushed the girl to Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Lokoja for treatment.”
The case file sighted by this newspaper showed that at age 9, Makola “was already working as a labourer, cleaning the house and preparing meals for the household. She was subjected to daily mental and physical torture by Omacho, her aunt, making her lose the smartness and intelligence that started manifesting in her early childhood. She was also deprived the opportunity of going to school.”
SATELLITE TIMES gathered that little Makola planned to escape but each time her plots were thwarted by her guardian who as a routine kept her like a prisoner, locking her in before departing for work each day. But determined to break the no-to-school rule, the little girl on a certain day scaled the fence of the house and went to school. Thereafter the boss of the scholarship board became furious and unleashed physical violence on her, for flouting her rule.
Arrested in 2017 for child abuse, Mrs Omacho subsequently had her appointment as Executive Secretary of the Kogi State Scholarship Board terminated.
Speaking on the incident, Oluwakemi Omeiza Usman, the legal counsel for the State enthused: “Yes, her appointment was terminated because of the incident. The case is still ongoing until justice is done. The suspect is on bail but comes to court for sittings”.
Favour has since been re-united with her parents while her condition is being monitored by the State Welfare Department.
The case has earned Kogi, one of the few States that has domesticated the Child Right Act, applause from human rights activists and civil society organisations. However, the Kogi State Coordinator, Action Aid Project, Kehinde Orowosegbe observed that incidents of rape of minor and child abuse in the state are on the increase.
“There are numerous cases of rape being reported daily. In several cases, the parents of the victims will go to the police station to beg that the case be settled out of court because of family ties and stigma” observed Orowosegbe.
This story was published under SATELLITE TIMES human rights investigation series
Missing General: Detained PUNCH journalist saw heavily pregnant woman in Army dungeon in Jos
While agitations trail the detainment of a heavily pregnant 20-year-old woman, Noroh Dung, new revelations about her arrest and possible identity has been made following the arrest of Friday Olokor, a Plateau State Correspondent of THE PUNCH newspaper in Jos.
Noroh was on midnight of October 2 arrested on suspicions of probable links to the disappearance of a retired Army General by name Idris Alkali who according to Maj. Gen. Augustine Agundu, Commander, Special Task Force in charge of security on the Plateau, was a victim of fracas at Dura, when irate youths blocked roads and attacked travelers following the invasion of the community on September 2.
The 3rd Division Nigerian Army has remained in denial about the identity of Noroh, refuting claims that she was in their custody. “No such name in our custody,” Col. Kayode Ogunsanya, Deputy Director, Army Public Relations said in response to a text sent to him by SATELLITE TIMES newspaper.
The arrest of Olokor has further revealed how the Nigerian Army in their search and rescue operation indiscriminately arrested and detained 37 people comprising of 28 men and 9 women.
According to Olokor the raid happened on October 6 in Rayfield area of Jos when about 30 masked men swooped in and started shooting indiscriminately at sight and arrested every human being they sighted.
“My initial feeling during the shooting was that they were either the Fulani herdsmen (who had been a thorn in the flesh of the Berom ethnic nationality), fake soldiers on military uniform or Boko Haram. Many of them were masked,” he said as he narrated his encounter.
“Passers-by were not spared; women and persons who were living in nearby houses were picked. Even my identification that I’m a journalist with PUNCH Newspapers didn’t help matters as they did not even want to see my Identity Card. We were 37 victims of invasion, 28 men and 9 women” he added.
As he further narrated his ordeal, he said 28 of the men arrested were taken to the 3rd Division of the Nigerian Army in Rukuba Barracks, where they were kept in an uncompleted building.
There in the dungeon, they were greeted by 30 persons who were also detainees including an unidentified pregnant woman who is suspected to be Noroh Dung, the 20-year-old who was arrested during the search and rescue operation at Dura district in Jos.
Olokor’s narrative gives authority to SATELLITE TIMES report on the missing 20-year-old Noroh Dung whose arrest has been vehemently denied by the Nigerian Army.
Prior to the arrest of Olokor and the 36 others on October 6, the Nigerian Army had earlier arrested 30 suspects in Du district of Jos South LGA, in connection with the disappearance of Mr. Alkali.
While the army has remained in denial of Noroh’s arrest and detainment, it is suspected that more pregnant women could be sharing the same fate at the 3rd Division of the Nigerian Army in Rukuba Barracks.
Missing General: Heavily pregnant woman held captive by Nigerian Army in Jos
The fate of Noroh Dung, a heavily pregnant 20-year-old woman is still unknown as she was allegedly whisked away by operatives of the Nigerian army during a search and rescue operation in Latiya-Dura Dwei, Du district of Plateau state.
The reason why Noroh was arrested between midnight of October 2 and 3 still remains a mystery as the Army has remained silent.
According to a family member, Kaneng Rwang-pam, who spoke to SATELLITE TIMES, Noroh was arrested on suspicions of probable links to the disappearance of an Army General by name Idris Alkali, a move she said was baseless.
Prior to Noroh’s arrest, the community was on September 2 attacked by suspected Fulani herdsmen, leaving 13 persons killed.
Following aftermath of the attack on the community, Mr. Alkali was reported missing by mainstream newspapers and broadcast houses, which spurred the Nigerian Army into a frantic search for the missing General.
Mr. Alkali had been reported missing since September 3, a day after Dura was attacked by the suspected assailants. According to Maj. Gen. Augustine Agundu, Commander, Special Task Force in charge of security on the Plateau, Mr. Alkali was a victim of fracas at Dura, when irate youths blocked roads and attacked travelers following the invasion of the community.
Acting on intelligence report, the Army embarked on an eight-day search that involved evacuating water from a pond. On Saturday, September 29, about 7 pm, they eventually found the car of Mr. Alkali with registration number MUN-670-AA Kwara State.
Worried about the mental and physical health of Noroh, who’s EDD (Expected Date of Delivery) was the last week of September, Kaneng, a group of journalists and members of civil society responded to the information received by a close member of Noroh’s family.
The family is also mourning the death of another family member, Pam Luka Bot who according to Kaneng was a victim of the recent search and rescue mission.
Kaneng and the group on October 4 mobilized themselves to Latiya-Dura Dwei to ascertain the true state of things but were denied access by the military at Dwei. The entire community was on lock down, Kaneng said.
“We were turned back by the military at Dwei. No one was granted access to Latiya. It appeared the entire community is on lock down with no sign of life.
“The nearest check point which is the BUKEN Academy checkpoint maintained by the STF (Special Task Force) & the Gbong Gwom Jos, looked abandoned,” she said as she narrated their experience.
She also added that as they tried to explain their mission, the soldiers on ground at the community became aggressive and advised that they left for their own safety.
Kaneng who sounded audibly worried in a telephone call to SATELLITE TIMES expressed concerns over the unlawful detainment and violation of Noroh’s civil liberty and human rights.
“This also contravenes the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on the treatment of women in conflict situations which clearly stipulates protection of women as one of the 5 pillars,” she said.
Speaking to SATELLITE TIMES newspaper, Major Umar Adams of the Operation Safe Haven Jos said he was not in the right position to speak on the issue and directed our reporter to get an official response from Col. Kayode Ogunsanya, Deputy Director, Army Public Relations.
According to Mr. Adams, the 3rd Division Nigerian Army is in charge of the search and rescue operation, adding that his team (Operation Safe Haven) was acting as collaborators.
When this paper contacted Mr. Ogunsanya for an official response, he did not pick his calls but later responded to a text sent to him saying “No such name in our custody.”
SARS Policemen keep man in dungeon, demands N2.9 million for his release
For over three months Samuel Edache, a Nigerian citizen from Nasarawa State, has been languishing in the dreaded detention facility of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS), sometimes unable to tell the difference between day and night. He is not sure what his offence is just as the Police has failed to bring forward his accuser.
In the early days of his detention, the Investigative Police Officer (IPO), only known as Mr. Adamu (telephone number withheld), demanded N500,000 from the detainee to enable him and his police team travel to Niger Republic to investigate allegations brought against Edache by an accused whose identity remains a mystery. After the detainee’s wife, Teresa Edache, had negotiated and paid in July 2018 a N100,000 “investigation fees” to the SARS operatives, the story changed. The Police investigators said they could no longer travel to Niger Republic, citing the Boko Haram insurgency and concerns for their own safety. They instead demanded that the detainee’s wife paid N2.8 million as “out-of-court settlement” with the faceless accuser.
Running to SATELLITE TIMES for help in what she said was her last resort to see that her husband’s ordeal comes to an end, Teresa Edache said her husband, who was a car dealer has not been charged to court in the three months he has stayed in the cell at F-SARS in Area 1, Abuja.
“They came to my shop in Lafia, Nasarawa State, to arrest my husband on 22nd July, 2018. I kept calling his mobile to have an idea where they had taken him to but they wouldn’t allow him pick my calls. Four days later, the SARS called me and said my husband was being detained at F-SARS in Area 1, Abuja. When I came to see him, they told me to bring 500 thousand naira for investigation, urging me to so do unless I want my husband to stay long in the police cell,” Mrs. Edache narrated.
The mother of two who must leave her one-year-old and 3-year-old children in the care of a 13-year-old nephew each time she braves the 3-hour journey by road from Lafia to Abuja added that the Police had continued to turn down her request to speak face-to-face with her husband.
“You can imagine the torture of travelling over 200 kilometres by road for hours only to get to SARS and you cannot spend even three minutes with your husband and you are made to travel another 200 kilometres back. I am allowed to only give him food. They call him out from an inner building; he comes to a window and there is a wall between us so you hand over the food and before we can exchange a few words the Police are shouting at you to leave; so, I have no opportunity to verify from him that the Police said he bought a Jeep from some armed robbers and sold it to a Customer in Niger Republic,” she revealed amidst sobs.
According to Teresa Edache’s brother who was privileged to speak with the detained man and had become involved in the efforts to secure his freedom; “the statement made by the Police IPO is that three armed robbers mentioned his (Samuel Edache) name that they stole the car and sold to him; meanwhile my brother-in-law is telling me that yes, he knows the people the Police is talking about but never as armed robbers and that the Jeep allegedly stolen from a widow cannot be the same Jeep he sold five years ago to a customer from Niger Republic”.
SATELLITE TIMES undercover reporter made it to SARS facility in Area 1 and managed to get a short interview and a photo of the detainee.
Mr. Edache suggested he was a victim of misrepresentation by an informant.
“The person who brought police to my wife’s shop is a police informant; he is working with the policemen who came to arrest me and it was the informant that mentioned my name and brought the police to my wife’s shop in Nasarawa. It is a set-up.
“The last time I had the business deal they are talking about was way back 2013 as a car dealer. I bought a car from them at 400,000 naira. But the Jeep they said was stolen happened in 2015. How can a Jeep be stolen in 2015 and I sold it in 2013? Does it mean that I bought it in 2015 and sold it in 2013?
“I need a lawyer, I don’t want any form of settlement by the police, I need a lawyer to get me out of this cell because I have no business with the criminals nor this particular stolen car”. Edache insisted.
Edache’s wife told SATELLITE TIMES that on Wednesday 5th September 2018, she was in church when the IPO called her to say she should come for a negotiation with the mystery complainant whom he had said was a widow. The idea was for the detainee to pay the widow for her allegedly stolen Jeep.
“We went there on Friday 7th September but we did not see any complainant in the station. Before then the IPO had asked me to bring 1.5 million for the payment but later when I got there with my brother the Police said the amount was now 2.8million for the jeep. They said the complainant had the receipt of the stolen vehicle.” Mrs. Edache recalled.
Eager to see the complainant with her own eyes, Teresa Edache sought to know why the widow did not show up. She was told by the IPO that the complainant would be invited to SARS only when the relatives of the robbery suspects were present at the station.
The detainee’s wife observed it was not the first time the IPO had failed to honour an arrangement made by him for her to meet with the complainant.
On one occasion of her brief exchanges with her husband, “My husband complained of having pile and being very sick; so I bought drugs for him but the Police collected it and threw it away” she lamented.
Reacting to Samuel Edache’s detention, Barrister Abrahim Abdulahim, a human rights lawyer at Path Solicitors told SATELLITE TIMES it was unlawful for the Police to detain
Edache without a legal backing and without the court giving an order for such detention.
“It is a violation of his human rights and nobody can detain someone for such a long time. Even if it is an arm robbery or terrorism case, the Police need to go to court for the court to determine it.” The lawyer explained.
Barrister Abdulahim went on to say that “maybe they have gone to court to secure an order for his detention. If there is an order from the court to detain him, then they can detain him in their cell. If there is no order of such, then it is an abuse of his rights and he can go to court to seek an enforcement of his rights and claim damages.
“It is about 10 million naira in damages for an unlawful detention. The most important thing is that whether he is a terrorist or a thief, let the court determine his detention, not the F- SARS police to keep him there for months. It is not allowed in law, they cannot do that,” he said.
It was gathered that the attention of the National Human Rights Commission Abuja has been drawn to the Samuel Edache’s case just as his wife continued to express fears that his life is in danger. Last Friday, a petition was sent to the Executive Secretary of the Commission for its intervention and protection of the rights and life of the citizen.
SATELLITE TIMES sought the response of the Nigeria Police Force over the detention of Citizen Edache. Media enquires by telephone calls, text messages and email sent to the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, were not responded to.
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