By Martin Opara

A middle aged woman, Mrs Nkechi Eze who hails from Onicha in Ezinihitte, Mbaise LGA of Imo State, and lives at Chiedozie Cresent, Umudagu, Mbieri in Mbaitoli LGA of Imo state, was on Friday December, 3, 2021 arrested by police officers attached to Orie Mbieri Police station for locking up her adopted 5 year old child in the toilet for 6 days without food water or change of clothes.

An eye witness who spoke  to this reporter on condition of anonymity said,”on Thursday, Dec 3, 2021, residents of Chiedozie Crescent, Umudagu, Mbieri heard the cry of a 5 years old child in a compound with its gate locked. A neighbor said the baby had been crying persistently for five days, apparently without food, water or change of clothes. Out of fear they alerted the police at Orie Mbieri Police Station who promptly came to the scene. With the help of some sympathizers  in the area, the gate was forced open.

“They noticed that the house was under lock and key. The police then traced the child’s cry of agony to the toilet and realized that she was locked inside. With the help of neighbours, they broke the door of the toilet and rescued the child who was almost unconscious and took her to the station.

“On realizing that the burble had burst, the culprit, Mrs Nkeiru Eze who hails from Onicha in Ezeinihitte Mbaise LGA absconded to avoid arrest. Following a tip off, she was arrested the next day, Friday, December 4 and was still in detention as at yesterday while her cohorts are said to be making frantic efforts to get her off the hook and impede justice.”

Some members of the Neighbourhood Association who do not want their names in print said, “the woman adopted the little girl some years ago. Two years later, she delivered her biological child who is also a girl. Since then she has subjected the adopted child to all kinds of torture, and dehumanization, including hitting her with a knife and other objects. On several occasions, she sends her out very late in the night alone, to go and buy things at Hardel Junction from Umudagu Mbieri. When we complain, she says it is none of our business.”

They further said, “It is like the woman’s husband who is abroad is not aware that his wife adopted a child because whenever he comes home, the woman sends the girl away and brings her back when the husband goes back to his base.”

To give credence to the allegation of child abuse leveled against the suspect by her neighbours, a police source who spoke to this reporter stated that, “when our colleague, the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) who personally bought new clothes, foot wear, etc for the little girl and wanted to have her hair plaited, it was observed that there were bruises all over her head as a result of injuries inflicted on her by Mrs Eze who from all indications wanted to get rid of her.”

Other residents of the neighbourhood also commended the IPO, simply identified as Inspector Kate for her motherly care and approach stressing that, “she is not only a thorough bred police officer who does her job with a human face but a caring mother.”

It was also gathered that, “a nurse simply identified as Mrs Mary and her husband, Ugochukwu  who are alleged to be in the business of child trafficking facilitated the adoption of the child by Mrs Nkeiru Eze who is Mary’s direct elder sister, presumably without following due process.”

When contacted, the chairman of the Nieghbourhood Association in the area, Hon Gerald Mbanugo and some members of the executive said, “we are aware that the police from Orie Mbieri Police Station came here on Thursday and rescued a 5 year old child from the toilet of one of our neighbours and the suspect was later arrested. That is the much we can say for now.  If you want more information about the matter, we advise you go to the police who are handling it.”

When also contacted, the Divisional Police Officer, Orie Mbieri Police Station, Mr Nwosu confirmed the incident and said, “we are still investigating the matter after which we will do the neddful. However, I am not authorized to speak to the press. It is only the State PPRO who is authorized to address the press or make public statement on such issues.”

On her part the IPO, Inspector Kate also confirmed the incident but refused to make any comment without approval from above.”

However, a police source who pleaded anonymity stated that “the suspect’s house help, a girl of about 10 years old has made very indicting statement about how her madam Mrs Nkeiru Eze had been threatening that she will kill the 5 year old girl and nothing will happen.

“The house girl who made this statement also looks unkept, malnourished, and frustrated and with scars all over her body prompting the police to wonder the level of, physical, psychological and emotional torture she and the 5 year old victim had been subjected to by a woman who should protect and care for them as her wards.”

Commenting on the matter, the Director, Child trafficking Department in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Mr Benjamin, said, “a man from the area called and informed me about the incident on Friday, December 3, and I told him to come to the office on Monday. However, we expect the police to hand over the child and the file to us while they continue with their investigation.

I have called the DPO and he said I should come to the Police Station on Tuesday for an interface. We will follow-up the matter and ensure that justice prevails.”

Effort to reach the Youth Leader of the area who was said to have mobilized youths to the scene and also accompanied the suspect to the police station for comment was futile as his phone was switched off.

Most residents of the area who spoke to this reporter said they are not surprised at the development “because the persistent lamentation and cries of agony that always filter out from Mrs Nkeiru Eze’s compound speaks volume.” They expressed disappointment that a woman could subject the children of fellow women to such hell on earth.”