Two years on, Korede Taiwo finds new lease of life
Two years after he was rescued from the jaws of death, Korede Taiwo, 9-year-old boy chained by his ‘Pastor’ father, in Ogun State for alleged theft of food, appears to have found a new lease of life. GBENGA AKINFENWA, who traced the whereabouts of the now 11-year-old reports.
Not many would remember the pathetic story of then nine-year-old Korede Taiwo, who was chained by his biological father, Pastor Francis Taiwo, shepherd-in-charge of the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), Key of Joy Parish, Wasinmi Ajibawo, in Ado Odo/Ota Local Council Area of Ogun State. Korede was for several weeks, confined to a small room within the church, chained in hands, legs and neck, for alleged theft of food, until luck smiled at him. He was rescued from the jaws of death, two years ago, by officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) after severe treatment and deprivation.
It was exactly two years last Sunday, July 22, since the boy was rescued, following a tip-off from church members, which prompted NSCDC’s rescue operation on July 22, 2016.As at the time of rescue, he was not only frail, he was malnourished and smaller than a child of his age, dejected, withdrawn, and traumatised. He could barely speak above whispers due to exhaustion and starvation. People were forced to strain their ears to hear him.
He was immediately admitted at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, for thorough medical attention, where he pleaded with the wife of the state governor, Mrs. Olufunso Amosun not to allow him go back to his father, frightening that his father might do worse things if he returns to his custody.
The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mrs. Modupe Mujota, who accompanied the governor’s wife to the hospital, with the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr. Olumide Ayeni; Commissioner for Health, Dr. Babatunde Ipaye, and officials of the Women Affairs and Social Development told journalists that the first family in the state, Governor Ibikunle Amosun and his wife, Olufunso, have adopted the boy, adding that “all efforts will be made to ensure that Korede excels in life.”
The governor’s wife was quoted thus: “We are happy to the glory of God that Korede is very active. His mind is alert. In terms of growth, he seems smaller than what his age would be, that aside in my opinion, he seems to be recuperating very well, bearing in mind what he had been subjected to. I am reassured by the proactive steps the Ogun State government intends to take, that it will be well with him.”
Two years down the lane, not many seems to know the state of the boy, who is now 11, as knowledge of his whereabouts was not in the state public domain. He seemed to have been forgotten after the media hype that followed his rescue and the subsequent arrest of his stepmother, Mrs. Kehinde Taiwo, father and forceful closure of the church.
The Guardian’s first attempt at investigating the boy’s whereabouts yielded little result, as those assumed to have clue at the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, at the Governor’s office, Oke-Mosan, especially Directors, made the job more tedious. But further probe revealed that Korede is actually under the direct supervision of the governor’s wife. The Guardian was able to trace the boy to Mercyland International Private Nursery and Primary School, Abeokuta, adjudged one of the best schools in the state. It was also learnt that boy is in full boarding arrangement.
Although The Guardian couldn’t have access to the boy, who is said to be going to Basic One, but from one of the pictures shown to The Guardian, his appearance is a sharp contrast to his former distraught look, as he is now chubby, handsome, healthy and mentally alert.A reliable source told The Guardian that immediately the boy was discharged from the hospital in 2016, he was taken to Stella Obasanjo Motherless Babies’ Home, Abeokuta for rehabilitation before he was enrolled in the school.
“The Governor’s wife has since been taking care of the boy. Whenever the school goes on holidays, he stays with a particular family-friend of the Ogun State first family.“On the issue of adoption and when he is likely to be released to his father, I think there’s a technical aspect of the ‘custody’ matter that the Justice Ministry cum Ministry of Women Affairs and Social welfare are handling. The possibility of total adoption is being considered, which the justice ministry is working on.”
But another source said the boy would be handed over to his father as soon he comes of age. “He still bears his father’s name in school, so there is no plan to adopt him as being speculated.”
The Guardian learnt that as the governor’s tenure is winding down, his wife is already making plans to ensure Korede is in safe hands after leaving office. “A woman (maid) is already being trained, so that the boy will be familiar to her. She is already working with the person taking care of him now, with the aim that by the time she leaves, the new woman will take over.”
Though efforts to know the details of the father’s case in Court and other related issues could not be ascertained, The Guardian confirmed that the Police Zone II, adjacent to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Secretariat, Oke-Ilewo, was directly involved in the case.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, who confirmed to The Guardian that the governor’s wife has taken charge of the boy, added that the case of his father is still in court, but “I cannot actually say his whereabouts because his offence is bailable.”
When The Guardian visited the father’s church, sitting on two plots of land, last Wednesday, it was overtaken by weed, as a result of the sealing-off by the highest hierarchy of the CCC, from Imeko area of the state, few days after the incident.It was also gathered that the said land has been seized by the community.
The Baale of the community, Chief Saliu Ayinla Babayanju, was not available when The Guardian visited.