Ese Oruru’s story is illustrative of the depth we have sank as a nation
The image of a bewildered and gaunt-looking girl, draped from head to toe, shown to Nigerians on Wednesday at the Police headquarters in Abuja, tells only half the story of what Miss Ese Oruru, 14, must have gone through since August last year. The other half of this shameful story is unraveling in the cocktail of lies, conspiracy, criminal negligence and reprehensible indifference of institutions of state that exist to protect the people.
The story began six months ago, with the disappearance of Ese, then 13-year-old, from the business premises of her mother in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. She was declared missing, until the parents were tipped off that Ese had been taken to Kano and already “married” to a known commercial tricycle rider by name Yunusa ‘Yellow’ Dahiru, 25, who abducted the minor from under her parents. That much has been confirmed.
That it took six full months, in addition to repeated trips by the Orurus and civil rights campaigns, for an abducted girl whose location was known to be returned to her parents is galling in the extreme. Therefore, beyond the joy of reuniting Ese with her parents, there is the greater task of identifying and arresting for prosecution those involved in this most heinous crime. A prima facie case of kidnapping, concealment and most likely rape and other criminal violations can be envisaged here.
To snatch a 13-year-old girl (her age at the time of abduction) from her parents and then claim to marry her raises the question of propriety in respect of laws on the age of consent. And to say that the police authorities are complicit in this entire saga is to put it both nicely and mildly. Following the long and tortuous journey of the parents, and after they were finally able to locate their daughter, the police could only further complicate matters for the Oruru family. The Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, explained his disgraceful conduct by the claim that he was waiting for clearance from the Emir of Kano before he could enforce the law.
The constitution does not make the IGP answerable to anyone, other than the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That is why we fail to understand the basis for the sloppy manner in which the Ese abduction matter was handled by the police authorities who failed the Orurus.
Also worrisome is the role of the Bayelsa State Government. The state governor, Mr. Seriaki Dickson, who was very visible since the scandal broke in the media allowed the poor and traumatised parents of Ese to travel by road to pick up their daughter last Wednesday unaccompanied and by public transport. Meanwhile, it is common knowledge that the controversy generated by the abduction saga could easily have made some people desperate enough to want to make an attempt on the lives of the Orurus.
That all of this did not seem to worry anyone says a lot about the value those in authority attach to the life of the average Nigerian. It beggars belief that the Nigerian State, as embodied in its institutions, should be content to have a child abducted from Bayelsa State dropped off in Abuja after six months. We doubt that this would have been the plight of Ese, or her parents, had they belonged to a different social and economic class in our country.
All said, the relevant authorities must take clear measures in dealing with those involved in this episode of national disgrace. At the very minimum, the pervert who abducted the minor and may have already impregnated her should face criminal prosecution to deter others like him.
Beyond that, definite steps should be taken to rehabilitate the unfortunate girl. On that score, Governor Dickson has put in place some measures which are quite commendable. But at the end, we believe Ese should be assisted to go back to school as her future is still well ahead of her.
QUOTE: It beggars belief that the Nigerian State, as embodied in its institutions, should be content to have a child abducted from Bayelsa State dropped off in Abuja after six months. We doubt that this would have been the plight of Ese, or her parents, had they belonged to a different social and economic class in our country