There was a mild drama on Saturday on Jembo Street, in the Egan, Igando area of Lagos State, as a stepmother, identified as Omo Akotho, locked herself up in the house to evade arrest.
PUNCH Metro learnt that after persuassion by some officials of the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender, who had surrounded the house to arrest the Edo State indigene over child abuse allegations, she finally opened the door.
En route to the Igando Police Station, our correspondent was told that the suspect attacked a neighbour who had volunteered to assist her in getting bail.
The neighbour reportedly begged to disembark from the bus when Omo allegedly accused the woman’s daughter of sleeping with her (Omo’s) husband.
Left with no one to stand as her surety, she was said to have been held at the gender unit of the Lagos State Police Command.
It was learnt that a resident had sent an SOS to the social media page of an official of the OPD, calling for help for two children, Blessing and Daniel, who were in the custody of the suspect.
Our correspondent learnt that the two children were from the previous marriage of one Mr. Akotho, their father, who took them from their mother in Delta State.
However, since they arrived in Lagos, they were allegedly abused by Omo.
PUNCH Metro was told that Omo and the children’s father, a seaman, had yet to have a child together.
A social worker with the OPD said on Saturday, December 23, Omo accused nine-year-old Blessing of stealing a wristwatch and brutalised her.
She said, “We were informed that the children had been subjected to all forms of abuse for a long time. In fact, their stepmother had been arrested by policemen from the Igando division early this year. She was warned and asked to go. But she didn’t stop. On December 23, she beat up the girl with a stick and her hand became swollen. That was when we were informed.”
The social worker said the agency stormed the Igando area, residence of the suspect, with some policemen.
She explained that on getting to the house, the agency discovered that the two children had been locked up in the apartment.
Some of the officials were said to have gone to the suspect’s shop, where she ran a catering service, without finding her.
“When we didn’t find her at the shop, we returned to the house to wait for her. On getting there, we found out that she was back.
“Apparently, she knew our mission and she locked herself up. We told her that we could have a civilised conversation outside and she should not be afraid. She came out and we promptly got her arrested.
“The children looked malnourished and there were marks of floggings on their backs. The girl’s hand was swollen and when we asked the woman what Blessing did, she said she thought the girl stole her wristwatch,” she added.
PUNCH Metro learnt that while the suspect was taken to the gender unit of the Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja, the children were first taken to a hospital for treatment before being moved to a shelter in the Ayobo area.
“When we queried her, she said the boy was always running away from home. She alleged that he had run away on three different occasions.
“The children said their parents were separated and their father took them from their mother in a village in Delta State. When we asked if they wanted to return to their mother, they said yes,” the source added.
The Director of the OPD, Mrs. Olubukola Salami, said the agency would continue to fight the scourge of child abuse.
She said, “The OPD will continue to do its best to get perpetrators to justice. We urge all residents to be vigilant and report all forms of child abuse in their communities.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Chike Oti, confirmed that the suspect was in custody.
He added that she would be arraigned at the end of investigations.