Ten-year-old Nneoma Nnadi might forever live with the ugly scar inflicted on her by a woman, who supposedly, she was given out to serve as a maid.
Her boss, a young woman and mother of two, Mrs. Ifeoma Ozougwu, on Thursday, allegedly rammed a six-inch nail into her skull.
Not done, Mrs. Ozougwu was also said to have inserted ground red pepper into Nneoma’s private part and locked her inside one of the toilets in their residence.
The young woman and her husband, who hail from Aku in Igbo Etiti Council of Enugu State, and are cooling off in Police custody at the Enugu Area Command, were said to have maltreated the little girl for a long time.
The Guardian gathered that the nail in Nneoma’s skull was the last straw that broke the camel’s back at their Thinkers Corner residence in Enugu.
It was further gathered that hot pressing iron had been used on Nneoma’s body severally, thus inflicting permanent burns on her. On each occasion, she was usually locked up inside the toilet.
Neighbours had alerted to the Police several times about the maltreatment of the girl, but each time the Police visited, they would search the whole house without locating the girl, as Mrs. Ozougwu always told the Nneoma had gone to her relation’s house.
The neighbours were said to have investigated and found out that the girl was constantly locked inside their toilet and starved of food.
Help came to her on Thursday when the neighbours alerted the Police of her incarceration and upon searching the toilet, found the girl locked inside it.
The Police swiftly rescued the little girl, arrested the woman and took the girl to Enugu State University of Science and Technology Teaching Hospital in Parklane, where she was receiving intensive care.
At the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital, there were bruises all over her body, an indication that her torture did not just start on Thursday. Part of her forehead was still bleeding, as a result of the nail allegedly driven into it.
A hospital official told The Guardian on the condition of anonymity, yesterday: “I was in my office when the Police brought the girl to our Emergency Unit in the company of the lady with her three kids.
“Our office was like a market in Enugu. People were cursing the lady, crying, telling the Police to bring out the woman. So, the Police seeing the crowd drove away to the station with the woman. The girl was admitted .
“Personally, I couldn’t hold myself. I called the wife of the assistant Commissioner of Police in my chapter, who hurriedly rushed to our office, saw the girl and cried out her eyes, called the husband and told her. She immediately informed the commissioner of Police about it and sent the picture of the girl.
“Do you know that the girl wanted to urinate, but she could not, because they poured grinded pepper inside the girl’s private part? I couldn’t hold my tears because of the type of excruciating pains this girl was passing through. I have never seen this kind of wickedness in my life. I feel so, so bad about the whole thing.”
Executive Director of Women Aids Collective (WACOL), Prof Ngozi Ezeilo, condemned the act, saying: “This is gory and torture of a young innocent girl whose only crime is being born to a poor widow who had to give her up to live with someone in the hope that she will get education and survive. We pray that she recovers.
“We demand full wrath of the law on this woman that inflicted such a level of physical injury on this girl. I spoke to the distraught mother of the victim. She is a poor widow living in a rural village in Aku, near Nsukka.
“It is time to eradicate child labour, ban and punish heavily, anyone using children as domestic helps. The Child Rights Act and the NAPTIP Act must be effectively enforced.
“WACOL will follow through to ensure that justice is done in this matter.”
Confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer, Daniel Ndukwe, said the matter was being investigated, as the Commissioner of Police had directed full-scale investigation.
“It is still being investigated, the CP has directed a full-scale investigation and ensuring that if found culpable, the woman and whoever that was involved should be prosecuted,” he said.