Sunday, 8 June 2014

3-Year-Old Girl Stolen In Lagos While Asleep With Family At Night (PHOTO)





 Life is hard for Sojine Anani and his wife, Akuvi, a Togolese couple who came to settle in Nigeria about 10 years ago. This was immediately obvious right from the entrance of the cemented red-brick bungalow they live in on a street in Shasha, Akowonjo area of Lagos.

The Ananis live in a small one-room apartment with their three young children.But between 2am and 4am on Monday, May 26, 2014, night marauders came calling in their home when Akuvi’s husband was away at work in Apapa area of Lagos.Their target was one single thing; the couple’s three-year-old daughter, Blessing.On Sunday (May 25) Sojine left for work in Apapa. By nightfall, his young wife and three children went to sleep, in the same room.But by morning, the girl among the children was missing.


Akuvi, a trader in her 20s told Punch:

    I woke up around 2am to plug our rechargeable lamp when electricity came on. Two of my children slept on the bed beside me while Blessing slept on the floor on a mat.I went back to sleep and I remember Blessing was exactly where she was on the floor when we all went to bed in the night. By 4.30am, I woke up because it was my turn to sweep our compound.

    “The first thing I noticed was that the drawer where I keep my children’s clothes was pulled out and placed on the floor. I put on the light and realised my daughter was gone.I went to the window after I checked the door and what I saw made me scream,

    I wish I did not come to Nigeria for a better life. My life is finished now, my child is gone. My life is over, I can’t stand this agony. I never knew a child could be stolen while asleep in her own house in the middle of the night. I knew thieves break in to steal money and other valuables, but I never heard of thieves breaking in to steal a child.This is unfair. I don’t even feel safe again. The police are not helping at all. Had I known, I would have stayed back in Togo. I am finished.I am all alone. My husband, who is supposed to be here is suffering in jail. Police are not even telling me anything. Where would I search for my child? I cannot sleep or shut my eyes, all I see is the face of my girl and I cannot stop thinking about what is happening to her.


Blessing is still missing and her father is languishing in police custody. All these have compounded Akuvi’s agony. Her relations told our correspondent that they feared for her mental health because she had remained inconsolable since the incident and had started acting sometimes like she is not in her right senses.
The police claimed she used an unothordox method to find the person that stole her baby. She was said to have taken the suspect to a seer’s house, an offence responsible for her husband’s detention.

    My children are suffering because their father has been locked up by the police. He is the breadwinner. Why are the police doing this to us? Why are they making us suffer more?”I am confused, I don’t know what is happening to me. I can’t find my daughter and police has detained my husband in cell,”

At the backyard of the house in which the Ananis live is a detached single room apartment, inhabited by an indigene of Calabar, Cross River State, a man called Sunny.Sunny’s room is adjacent the Ananis’ window. But that was not the reason Akuvi suddenly stood up that day and went to drag their neighbour out of his room, accusing him of stealing her child.
She said,

     “Sunny always joked with my daughter in my presence that he would take her away. Few days before she went missing, a man visited him. Both the stranger and Sunny sat at the backyard.But when the man saw my daughter, he asked me if she was mine and I said, yes. He simply said she was a good girl. But when the man left, I had to ask Sunny’s wife who the man was. She said she was her husband’s relation. It was strange the way he tried to get information about my daughter. But I did not think it was anything.I had to hold on to Sunny when my child went missing simply because he always talked about my daughter.”

 One of Akuvi’s relations said..

    “We wanted to try everything before it was too late to get the child back. The police visited but did not seem to be doing much about finding the child. So, we took Sunny to a seer’s house.
    When we got there, the seer said the person who stole the child was an insider. We left the place and asked Sunny to take us to the house of his friend who visited days before. When we got to a house he took us to, he changed his mind and said it was not the place. He took us to another place and said he was not sure that was where he lived. When he took us to a third place and he seemed to be deceiving us, people who followed us started to beat him. But the police arrived and took him away.”

But a group of the Ananis’ relations and neighbours showed up at the Shasha Police Division, calling on the police to do something fast about the missing child.Nine of them were rounded up including the victim’s father and a nursing mother with her baby. The Divisional Police Officer, Nwachukwu Eburuaja, ordered them detained..On Monday, our correspondent learnt that the policemen investigating the matter at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Yaba, Lagos said Sojine and neighbours detained with him would not be released until he had paid N220,000.

Our correspondent was told Sojine and his family could hardly afford decent three square meals in a day.
When our correspondent relayed the accusation of extortion against the police to the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Ngozi Briade, she swung into action and contacted the authorities of the SCID.
Braide explained that the father of the victim along with the other detainees were accused of “trial by ordeal.”
She said,

     “When the family reported the abduction, the police went in and questioned the parents of the abducted child. But later, we learnt they took a neighbour they suspected of being responsible for the abduction to a native doctor, who said the man was the culprit. That is illegal; we call that trial by ordeal in law.
    “Later, police were alerted to an attempt to lynch the suspected man. A team intervened, rescued the man and arrested those responsible for the attempted lynching and trial by ordeal.”

 Our correspondent provided her with the names of the policemen accused of demanding bribe for the release of the victim’s father and the other individuals.

But after making her findings, she said the accusation was denied by the concerned policemen. She said the deputy commissioner of police in charge of the SCID had been notified about the case and had promised that they would be released on Tuesday.


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