The Ebonyi state government has commenced investigation into how a mother used her four-year-old daughter to offset a debt of N100.
The woman, Veronica Igwe, according to the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Ministry, was been invited for questioning and later handed over to the police.
She allegedly gave Uloma, her daughter, to Josephine Nwali after she could not pay a debt of N100.
The transaction reportedly took place at the Abakaliki Rice Mill.
Ms. Igwe told officials of the ministry that she took the decision to hand Uloma to Ms. Nwali when the pressure from the woman was becoming unbearable.
When Ms. Igwe offered her daughter to Ms. Nwali in place of the money, she accepted.
The creditor then took Uloma to her house at CAS Campus, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, where she had been for nine months before officials of the ministry got wind of the incident and went after her.
The case blew open when Uloma became seriously sick, developing a swollen stomach.
A resident of the area contacted the ministry which made the officials to storm Ms. Nwali’s house and rescue the girl.
The ministry said it was taking Uloma to a hospital for medical treatment.
Cecilia Elom, who is in charge of child maltreatment at the ministry, confirmed the incident.
“It’s a child abuse and exploitation case. This is a serious child abuse. We received a call that Nwali Josephine was maltreating children. We immediately went to the scene and saw the children,” Mrs. Elom said.
“One of them is four years old. Her biological mother, Veronica, told us that she met the woman at Rice Mill in Abakaliki and bought on credit from her. She couldn’t meet up with the payment of N100, thus she suggested Nwali should take her child. Nwali accepted. “We invited Veronica to our office and she honoured our invitation.”
“After interviewing her, we handed her over to the police for further investigation. The child has not been reunited with her parents because she is sick. We’re taking her to the hospital; her condition is very bad,” she said.
The director of Child Welfare and Protection in the ministry, Godwin Igwe, described the case as child trafficking.
“The child was placed on debt bondage and it is one of the criteria of human trafficking. The woman who took this child for N100 debt is a mother. She gave birth to a baby last Saturday, and she has three children already before the present baby,” he said.
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