James Sowole in Akure
The police in Ondo State have rescued a minor, Precious Michael, who was quarantined by his foster parents in a kiosk inside a bush at Imafon Village in Akure South Local Government Area.
Subsequently, the police have arrested a 28-year-old foster mother, Mrs. Mary Matthew, who admitted to have taken the action because she was told Precious, who was about four years old was possessed and also has HIV.
Matthew was paraded by the Ondo State Police Command along with 17 other suspects, who were alleged to have committed various offences.
Speaking on the little girl’s matter at the headquarters of the command in Akure yesterday, the state Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Hilda Harrison, said the girl was rescued in June this year following a tip off.
“Mary Mathew and her husband who alleged that the girl was possessed and thus decided to lock her inside the kiosk. On receipt of the information, personnel attached to Juvenile Welfare Centre (JWC) of the command, visited the scene and met the girl in the cage as reported.
“She (Precious) was immediately rescued and taken to police clinic for medical attention while the suspects are under interrogation and will soon be charged to court,” the commissioner said.
Harrison further explained the victim would be taken to the state welfare home of the Ondo State Ministry of Woman Affairs and Social Welfare.
Also speaking, the police officer at the JWC of the command, Mrs. Olayemi Ojumu, who led the team that rescued the young girl, told THISDAY that Precious had been tested negative to HIV.
“When we got to the village, we saw the girl with swollen body, holding bread. She had defecated on her body inside the cage she was kept in the bush, they didn’t allow her to come out. they gave her food and water there.
Displaying the humane in her, Ojumu donated blood to the little Precious because she was anaemic when she was admitted at the police clinic.
“When we asked Mary about the condition of the girl, she told us that Precious’ mother died of HIV in Enugu State and she discovered that she (Precious) had been inflicted with HIV by her deceased mother and she did not want her to infect her own children, that was why she kept her inside the cage.” Ojumu stated.
Speaking with journalists, the suspect, who said she is a farmer and an indigene of Enugu State, denied the allegation, insisting that the victim was only confined to a corner in her shop, where she put him in the morning and released in the evening whenever she came back from the farm.
Mary, a mother of six, confirmed that Precious is her nephew whose grandmother told her that the parents died of HIV/AIDS.
She explained further that she confined her to the shop because it was noticed that the minor had swollen-legs, a symptom which grandma told her killed her parents.
The suspect said she would have taken her to the hospital for treatment but had no money to pay for the medical bills.
The girl who was lively and free with the officers that had been taken care of her, said she had swollen hands and legs because her aunty and the husband always tied her with ropes.