‘This boy was abused by his father’
ALTHOUGH reports of child abuse and horrific pictures of vulnerable children subjected to inhumane treatment abound in the country, however, the case of a four -year-old Michael (not real name), who has been a victim of child abuse and maltreatment by his own father is very pathetic.
For two years, his father, Sikiru Mustapha, has been unleashing bodily harm on Michael, which are often not treated without remorse or considering the effect on his tender body.
In the past, their neighours at No. 4 Pedro Street, Iwaya, Lagos, had watched in total disbelief, the sheer act of wickedness meted to the boy and had tried to intervene without success.
However last week, when the unrepentant man descended on the innocent boy again, one of the neigbours took a bold step and reported the incident to Human Development Initiatives (HDI), a Non Governmental Organisation headed by Prof. (Mrs.) Bolaji Owasonye.
Subsequently, the organisation informed Mrs. Clara Ibirogba, Director of Citizens’ Rights and a member of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team DSVRT), a body set up to provide a coordinated response to issues relating to sexual and gender-based violence in the state.
Due to the wounds that had been afflicted on him, there was an urgent need for him to be taken to the hospital for medical treatment, so the NGO took him to Iwaya Primary Health Care Centre and upon another intervention by the DSVRT, he was administered First Aid Treatment and other basic health care.
The Nigeria Police was also duly informed and the boy and father were taken, in company of a representative of the NGO to Iwaya Police Station.
While this was going on, the Director of the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) and member of the DSVRT, Mrs. Omotola Rotimi instructed her officers to go to the Police Station to ensure that the matter was promptly charged to court.
The matter, was subsequently, transferred to Sabo Yaba Police Station and a lawyer and a social worker of the Office of the Public Defender, thereafter, took Michael to a state General Hospital so that he could receive proper medical care commensurate with the grievous bruises on his body.
The intervention of the DSVRT soon became a saving grace for the four-year old, who received adequate and proper medical attention that also resulted in the arrest of Mr. Mustapha by Policemen from Iwaya Police Station.
Today, little Michael is in protective care, while his father was charged to court for alleged assault and occasioning harm to a four- year-old.
Further hearing on the matter has also been adjourned to July 20, 2015.
Speaking on the matter, the coordinator of Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, Mrs. Lola Vivour-Adeniyi expressed worries that maltreatment and the like is on the increase in the state and indeed in Nigeria.
According to her, this phenomenon goes on in our homes, schools and faith-based organisations.
“While we regularly hear and read reports of child abuse and we see horrific pictures of these vulnerable ones subjected to inhumane and sheer acts of wickedness, this was the case of this four- year-old boy in Lagos who had been a victim of child abuse and maltreatment by his own father for two years.
“ This coordinated response took place on the same day the matter was brought to the attention of the team and the matter was charged to court the next day,” she added.
Mrs. Vivour-Adeniyi further urged members of the public to reach members of DSVRT on 07080601080/ 07032165181/07038379705, since the team envisages an unprecedented level of collaboration among relevant agencies involved in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence.
“Child protection is everyone’s responsibility. See something. Say it… You are a mandated reporter,” she concluded.