By Archibong Jeremiah
The 11 months old baby (name withheld) that was reported by CrossRiverWatch on the 6th of March 2015 to have been a victim of constant physical and emotional abuse by his father, Mr. Alvan Orji for superstitious belief that he is responsible to his father’s dwindling business, has been rescued.
Speaking with this reporter, the Principal Counsel of Basic Rights Council Initiative, BRCI, James Ibor, Esq. whose firm spearheaded the rescue tells CrossRiverWatch how it happened.
His word: “A day before yesterday (Monday) I received a distressed call from the victim’s mother that she is in trouble then I advised her to go to the police since she was not willing to immediately disclose what kind of trouble it was. When she confirmed to me that she is in the station, I sent a staff of mine and a volunteer there, at Ikot Nakanda police station Akpabuyo, Cross River State. It was there I learnt she had been battered, and that Mr. Alvan Orji (the father of her child) had locked her out of her home, and seized the little child, their baby.
“The policemen told me and I believed them that when they got to their home, Mr. Alvan Orji refused opening the door for them and that they could hear the child crying seriously inside the home, they were helpless then returned to the station where their Divisional Crime Officer, DCO instructed them to get the child out of Alvan’s custody at all cost because everybody was apprehensive that something terrible might happen to the child.
“From history, this is the same man that has not spared the child, he has consistently battered the child in a way nobody would have imagined. You have the pictures of the injuries the baby bore which is unimaginable for an 11 months old child, an action he admitted. He decided to get the services of his kinsmen who were able to assure him that we won’t arrest him with police; they were able to persuade him to bring the child which eventually he did yesterday (Tuesday)”.
The major peril according to the lawyer is, “When this incident occurred we informed the police and they did an arrest and did nothing thereafter, we referred the matter to the Cross River State Ministry of Social Welfare, they got our letter acknowledged receipt and did nothing, two weeks later we did a reminder letter to them they received and did nothing. It is the duty of Ministry of Social Welfare to promote and protect the rights of children, what we are doing is only to complement their effort; they have the statutory responsibility to act or to have responded quickly”.
Going further, he maintained that, “I have said it again and again, that the Commissioner for Social Welfare and Community Development in Cross River state, Patricia Inyang Enderly is inept and clueless, she claims to be a lawyer of high repute; she claims to have done social work in the UK. I challenge her that she has failed, that ministry has equally failed. All she does is to set up task force to go about arresting children and dumping them in a room, then dumping them again in their home without addressing the issue that drove them away from the house in the first place, is that how she did social work in the UK? You do that in UK the next day you will be fired and may be prosecuted, but because we’re here, everything goes. Yes she has been complaining that she has not been properly funded but the little you are given what have you done with it? My joy is that this administration has come to its climax; we cannot wait to see the next one come and promote the rights of children”.
When asked the next step from here he added that: “The law gives the ministry the power to do things but the ministry has done nothing, it has failed. We are limited because of the law, what we can do, we have done it, to rescue the child, counsel David’s mother which after the counselling she concluded to relocate back to her family house in Enugu with her child, she was merely cohabiting with the man who impregnated her and made life miserable for her. But we have referred so many cases like this to the police and the ministry of social welfare and nothing was done”.
On her part, the mother of the victim told our reporter that, “I have been sick for some time now which I told him but he refused taking me to the hospital, as I couldn’t bear it, I tried forcing my way out that same Monday morning and he gave me the beating of my life knowing too well that I am very ill. When he went to buy something, I sneaked out and he saw me as I stopped a bike then he came and instructed the bike man to take me to the nearby clinic and nowhere else and as we arrived the doctor advised that I should be taken to general hospital because they don’t have what it takes to respond to me, he ignored what the doctor said and instructed the bike man to take me home which on the way I diverted and ran to the police station for help after talking to Mr. James because he is deadly”.
The distraught lady concluded by telling our reporter that, “First of all I want to find something to do and then go to school but first is to get something to do because it will help me take care of my baby and even in school”.
The lady has since returned to Enugu State with the baby even as the Basic Rights Counsel is working with the Police to ensure Mr. Orji sends her N10,000 every month for the upkeep of the baby.
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