By Rebecca Ejifoma
A Togolese woman, Mrs. Rali, of 163 Agege Motor Road, Mushin Olosha, Lagos, was alleged to have maltreated, chained and locked up a 15-year-old girl, Rosa.
The alleged maltreatment was exposed by aggressive residents of Mushin who raised the alarm on Saturday that the Togolese woman was holding the girl in sub-human bondage.
Rali, who is popularly known in the area as Iya Sunkanmi, was accused of binding Rosa’s hands and feet with iron chains, locked her up and left home in the morning of Saturday, July 18, until the police arrived in the evening.
Some neighbours told THISDAY that they heard the excruciating cries of Rosa for help through the window and called on social workers and the Community Development Association (CDA) members and later reported the matter at the Alakara Police Station.
A Child Advocate with the Solace Centre for Community and Rights Advocacy (SCCRA), Mr. Adeyemi Akin-Akala, said that when he and some police officers got to Rali’s home at 6:30pm, the residents complained that some police officers, including a female, came to the scene but left without rescuing the poor girl who was in chains.
Akin-Akala said he went back to the house with two policemen and the JWC officer and ‘invited the CDA chairman of the area, the Igbo traders’ task force chairman and the landlord of the building down to the door and broke it open, went in and didn’t see the girl.”
He told THISDAY that the endless search for the girl would have been averted if the police had rescued the girl earlier.
He added: “All the neighbours are supportive on tracking down the woman.”
The neighbours also said that they were pained and disappointed in the police because of the disappearance of the girl.
A neighbour, who simply identified herself as Mrs. Keny (not real name) said the police met the girl crying for help and hunger inside the locked apartment but left without rescuing her.
“This little girl was crying since morning. She was chained, my God, and locked up without food. The police only responded after much pleading yet did nothing to save that girl,” she said, adding that no one knows if the girl is alive or dead.
The Programme Manager, the Lucina Care Initiative, Mrs. Stella Orah, said the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) was not on seat at the time of report. “The officers said they could not do anything unless the DPO gave them order to break down the gate because the guardian locked the gate and went away with the key.
“But when the DPO was called, he said nobody should tell him about any case since the officers at the station were aware.
“After the officers knocked severally but no response, they left. Their reason was they could not hear Rosa’s voice and couldn’t break the door,” Orah said,and promised to continue to follow up on the case.
Other eyewitnesses divulged that Iya Sunkanmi acts like a mentally deranged person and described her as a wicked soul that has been maltreating the girl.
However, Rali’s husband reportedly claimed that the child had been taken to her parents that evening, a claim that the Secretary/Operations Manager, Advocate for Children and Vulnerable Person Network (ACVPN) Mr. Ebenezer Omejalile, found hard to believe.
Omejalile said: “They are going to explain to the police. We won’t allow this case to go like that. I suspect a deliberate act by some persons. The lines of all the JWC officers were switched off immediately the case came up. I called the PPRO twice. When I called again the phone was switched off, even the Area Commander, who until this evening is yet to call back or reply my messages.
“We are going to get to followthe matter until we find where the girl is.”