My day was uneventful and calm. I had assumed my night would be same. Nothing could have warned me that my night would be interrupted by a face-to-face encounter with the true face of evil.
I had put my daughter down for the night and gone to bed myself.
I was enjoying my sleep when my husband, Kaanayo, burst into the room, waking me up with these frantic words, “Babe! Babe! Sorry to wake you but there’s a situation here. You need to come handle it. I don’t know what to do.”
I jumped out of bed, made myself decent and rushed out with him only to be accosted by a sight that would fit perfectly in a particularly disturbing horror flick.
A little girl, looks like she’s eight years old, stark naked, dancing and hopping from foot-to-foot whilst frantically fanning her eyes with her hands.
My heart skipped two beats as I tried to figure out what happened.
Long story short, Lorita Madu, the woman she was living with as house help, in collaboration with her husband Uzochukwu, stripped this child naked, beat her thoroughly and then inserted wet ground pepper into the child’s vulva, rubbing some into her eyes as well.
I managed to collect myself together, took the child into the bathroom and washed her under the shower. Then I dressed her up in one of my dresses and tried my best to calm her down.
Walking out, I saw the co-culprit, Uzochukwu, standing outside with a cane (the unbreakable type used for making cane chairs), demanding to get the girl back, warning my husband “not to get involved.”
Kaanayo is a big burly guy, built for American football, so I wasn’t surprised when he threatened to hurt him if he didn’t get away because he was trespassing and he was within his right to defend his household. On my part, I called my friend and classmate, Chinenye Edeoga, who is a top official of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, and reported the incident to her.
Despite the unholy hour, she contacted their Enugu zonal office.
By morning, my phone was buzzing off the hook. The NAPTIP people were all over the case. The victim was also able to tell me her story.
It was a sorry one.
She is 11 years old although she looks small for her age.
This was the fifth time Lorita had stripped her, flogged her mercilessly before inserting dried ground pepper into her privates and her eyes. She said, usually, they would lock her up in the toilet to suffer and only release her in the morning when she must have recovered.
On this particular night, for some reason, they forgot to lock her up. She had escaped through the back door and ran for help.
It was a miracle that she found help.
This poor, miserable child was visibly ill. She coughed intermittently. A dry, prolonged cough that was painful to the ears. It was obvious this child had endured this cough for awhile. I marveled at how a mother of two small children could allow someone who minds her children to silently suffer such a predicament. Didn’t she care that her kids could also get the cough? Speak of cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Thankfully, she was taken to the hospital and is receiving treatment.
According to Kaanayo, who had stayed up late watching TV, he had heard screaming and came out in curiosity. Thanks to the inept power company here, everywhere was in darkness as usual, leaving the atmosphere agog with a cacophony of generator noises from all quarters. The girl was stumbling around blind, falling and picking up herself until the security man guided her to him and he brought her into the house just in time before her tormentor came after her with a cane.
Upon inspecting the little girl’s body, I saw long scars of strokes of cane crisscrossing her back like a child’s puzzle maze. Apparently, the scars barely heal before new ones are inflicted.
It was a heartbreaking sight and story.
I must say that I am highly impressed with NAPTIP. They acted fast and efficiently.
Before 10 o’clock the following morning, they had come to take the child.
I got to learn a little about how they operate. They work with the governor’s wife and the commissioner for women’s affairs as well as the Civil Defence Corp.
NAPTIP officers came to Umuahia from Enugu to take the victim to their shelter over there. They also arrested the culprits and took them to Enugu to face the consequences of their evil deeds.
According to the victim, husband and wife usually tag-team to assault her and for the flimsiest reasons.
The reason for the latest assault that broke the camel’s back was that she forgot to tell them that their children’s food had finished.
What I found fascinating was how Uzochukwu went around telling anyone that cared to listen that he wasn’t part of it. That it was all his wife’s doing and he didn’t even know she was doing those things. This was of course a big, fat lie! It totally diminished in my eyes his respect as a man. Throwing his wife under the bus to save his own skin. But then, this pair deserve each other as you will soon learn.
The devil’s twins will use anything and anyone to try and escape the consequences of their wickedness. For example, they showed up at my house with their children, shortly before NAPTIP came to take the victim to safety. They have two small children with the oldest being three or four. She is pregnant with her third. The woman had the temerity to approach me with a broad smile, hoping to charm me into releasing the child to her. She told me that the agent who brought the child was coming to take her away. That she was sorry. That she momentarily lost her temper and assured me that it would not happen again.
I categorically refused to hand over the child, insisting that the law must take its course.
On the heels of this couple’s arrest, more details of their wicked practice of procuring young girls for the purpose of torturing them began to emerge.
Two men came out to say that their wives had on two different occasions witnessed the merciless pummeling of two different girls that had lived with them. These women had expressed the desire to call the police but their husbands asked them to not get involved. One of the women said the beating was so brutal that she was convinced the child might not survive it.
Another couple in the neighborhood came forward to confess that the little girl had run to them on several occasions for help only to be retrieved from their custody with a cane. They further confessed that the child had begged them to help her escape but they had declined because not only did they not want to get involved, they felt they couldn’t do anything.
I find it highly disturbing that normal people were willing to sit idly by and watch whilst a child is brutally tortured to death only to come forward after the fact.
No one made any effort to save this child. I shudder to think of what might have been her fate had Kaanayo not stayed up late to watch TV. Had he been wired like the silent watchers, this child might have been further brutalised and the hellhound pair would have gotten away with their deeds and even progressed in it.
Many times, it is not only the evil in the hearts of the psychologically deformed that rocks our society, the silence of the mute and remote participants encourages this evil to thrive.
Perhaps it is time for us to stop watching and start acting.
NAPTIP is fast and effective.
The extent of your involvement could be as small as an anonymous tip.
From afar, the Madus cut a picture of the perfect family. They are diligent churchgoing folks and even host house fellowship in their home every week. I hear that Lorita sometimes preaches in church!
This brings me to another shameful aspect of this entire nasty turn of events.
The pastor of their church called an eyewitness who also attends the same church, to hush him up. Mr. Pastor told the eyewitness that he was going to procure a lawyer for the offenders and went on to warn the eyewitness not to speak to anyone about the case.
He specifically ordered him to say he does not know anything if anyone asked him any questions.
I just wonder if this pastor would say the same thing if the victim belonged to him.
Mr. Pastor, let me assure you that if you tamper with this case in any manner again, I will expose you.
This couple is truly wicked in their hearts.
The woman is a murderer-in-waiting.
It is quite possible that this incident prevented a murder hovering in her immediate future.
Thanks to NAPTIP, a future murder may have been prevented and a would-be murderer reformed or dissuaded.
I strongly commend Dr. Fatima Waziri-Azi, the Director-General of NAPTIP and her team. I hear she runs a really tidy ship over there. One of my neighbor’s who heard about the incident told us that NAPTIP would maximally handle the matter because they don’t take bribe. Bad eggs who attempt to accept bribes are speedily dealt with.
I myself attest to their efficiency and to the level of heart they put into protecting the vulnerable and the exploited.
An agency like this deserves lots of support and funding because they are truly in the business of saving lives.
Related story: NAPTIP arrests couple for dehumanising house help: