The wife of a top Akwa-Ibom government official was on Friday charged by the police before a magistrate court in Abuja for alleged serial abuse of her 10-year-old stepdaughter.
Court documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES on Friday showed that the accused, Chidinma, whose husband is Ini Awak, the permanent secretary, Akwa Ibom Liaison Office, Abuja, was arrested on Monday.
Although she was initially detained briefly at the Force Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department, FCIID, of the Nigeria Police, Area 10, Abuja, the nursing mother was later released on bail to allow her take care of her baby, while the police continued its investigations.
The FCIID spokesperson, Chike Nwabuwa, a Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES the accused was later charged before the Magistrate Court, Wuse, Zone 2, Abuja on Friday for the crime.
Mr. Nwabuwa said the accused was charged for alleged grievous hurt of a child under Sections 235, 243 and 244 of the Nigerian Penal Code Law 2008.
She was accused of beating and inflicting several bodily injuries on her stepdaughter and in the process breaking her upper right arm. The girl was later admitted in the hospital for surgery.
She was however granted bail and asked to return to court on January 27 for continuation of the case.
Mr. Nwabuwa told PREMIUM TIMES that officials of the Child Welfare Unit (Gender Department) of the station had received a report from some concerned workers of a popular church in Abuja.
“I can confirm to you that we received the report about the girl’s situation from some concerned church workers who rushed her to the hospital for treatment.
“What I can say is that she is currently receiving treatment at the Garki Hospital, Abuja. The woman has admitted in her statement of beating the girl for stealing her snacks (Pringles),” Mr. Nwabuwa said.
The accused was said to have given the Junior Secondary School, JSS, student a ‘black eye’ from severe beatings.
But, her admission in the hospital followed her broken right upper arm after the accused allegedly held and twisted it several times before stepping on it.
For over a week, it was said that no treatment was given to the girl, resulting in the blood clotting around the wounded area developing a surgical condition.
However, a source at the church, who requested that his name should not be disclosed because he was not authorised to speak on the matter said the woman was a guest in the church when the girl’s injuries were discovered.
“The woman was attending a programme in our church she was invited with her family,” the source said.
“During the programme, one of the workers in charge of the children’s department had observed how the girl was finding it difficult to use her right hand.
“Besides, it was observed that the girl also had bruises from her neck down to her bum. He drew the attention of the medical team.
“On closer examination, the team found that the girl’s upper arm was badly swollen. The girl had a black eye in the face and bruises all over her body.
“She later confirmed they were inflicted on her by her stepmother from severe beatings,” the source told PREMIUM TIMES.
Unknown to the woman, who was still attending the programme, the medical team had received the permission of the pastor in charge of the church to rush the girl to Garki Hospital for closer medical attention.
At the hospital, the source said it was found on examination and x-ray that the bone in the girl’s upper arm was badly broken, causing a big swelling as a result of the blood clotting inside the affected area.
The source said the hand was so badly fractured that the doctors had to carry out a surgical operation immediately to save the hand from being amputated.
But, before carrying out the operation, the source said the church had to make a formal report to the Child Welfare Unit at the FCIID of the Nigeria Police, Area 10, Abuja for them to wade in.
The police told PREMIUM TIMES the accused was later arrested and detained briefly following the report.
On interrogation, she was said to have admitted in her statement to the investigation team that she beat the girl for “allegedly stealing her biscuit (Pringles).
“It is pathetic and disheartening that the home which is supposed to be a place of comfort for the child has become a place of torment and torture,” the source lamented.
“If the girl was not brought to church that day and the workers noticed her discomfort, and rushed her to the hospital, she could easily have lost the hand,” the source added.
He told PREMIUM TIMES that the doctor who carried out the operation on the girl noted that if the situation had tarried for two days longer, the girl’s arm would have been amputated.
The police spokesperson, Mr. Nwabuwa confirmed on Friday the girl was responding positively to treatment at the hospital.
When PREMIUM TIMES visited Garki Hospital, our reporter observed that the girl, whose hand was operated upon, was cast in plastic of Paris (POP) from shoulder down to the wrist.
PREMIUM TIMES also observed that the girl who looked malnourished, had a black eye on the right side of her face.
It was gathered that the church which made the referral to the hospital and secured a place for her treatment, also paid the initial bill for the girl’s treatment.
The father who was later invited to the hospital was said to have taken over to settle the other bills, including that of the operation.