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Finally Justice, Freedom For Teenage Victims of Domestic Abuse

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January 09, (THEWILL) – Joy Emmanuel and Jibrin Aliyu were both victims of man’s inhumanity to man.

Twelve-year-old Joy was confined in a disused refrigerator and kept in a zinc house by her aunt, Esther Emmanuel, in collusion with her husband, Bassey Emmanuel. Claiming that she was mentally unstable, the couple, who lives in Sokoto North Local Area of Sokoto State, left the girl in that condition and half-starved for eight months until the Sokoto State Government intervened through the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and rescued her.

Jibrin Aliyu’s case was more dehumanising. He was chained and forced to eat animal fodder and his own faeces for survival in his home at Badariya quarters, Birnin Kebbi in Kebbi State for almost two years, with the knowledge of his biological father and three of his stepmothers.

The Special Adviser to Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State on Women Affairs, Hajiya Zara’u Wali, who described Jibrin’s condition, prior to his rescue, as unfortunate and shocking, said the matter was reported on Sunday, August 9, 2020.

She said, “We received information that an 11-year-old boy named Jibrin Aliyu had been chained at their home for almost two years. We mobilised our men and rushed to their residence where we confirmed the claim as being true. He was rescued and taken to a psychiatric hospital in Birnin Kebbi for medication.

“What we discovered is that he had a pre-existing health condition. The ignorant father saw the boy experiencing a mental health condition and after trying his best, subjected him to an inhuman and degrading treatment.”

A child rights advocate, Serah Bashimi, attributed the situation to non-domestication of the child right law in some states since it was enacted by the Federal Government 18 years ago.

She said, “Children in Sokoto, Kebbi and other states where the Child Right Act is yet to be domesticated, face numerous challenges to their rights and well-being, including lack of access to education, adequate primary healthcare, good nutrition and protection from violence, all of which must be addressed.

“It is quite retrogressive that since the adoption of the Child Right Act (2003) by the Federal Government under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, some states have yet to domesticate the law mostly due to cultural and religious differences.”

It turned out that Joy’s aunt and her husband the truth when they both claimed she was mentally unstable. Their claim was later proved to be false by the police.

One of Joy’s neighbours, who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said some people had decided to invite the police when they noticed the dehumanising manner the girl was being treated.

The neighbour said, “Immediately, the police rescued the girl, the Sokoto State Commissioner for Women and Children Affairs, Hajiya Kulu Sifawa, in company with the state Police Commissioner, Kamaldeen Okunlola, and officials of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons visited the crime scene to get firsthand information.”

The spokesman for the state police command, ASP Sanusi Abubakar, said the girl was rescued and the suspects arrested and detained at the Dadin Kowa Police Station.

Abubakar said, “They kept the girl in a cage in their compound and starved her food for eight months. When our men broke the door of the cage, the girl was too frail to walk because she was emaciated. We met her in a horrible situation, urinating and excreting inside the cage. The girl was taken to the State Specialist Hospital for treatment.’’

When she visited the emaciated girl at the State Specialist Hospital where she was being given medical attention, Sifawa said, “The state government has taken responsibility for the girl’s treatment and it will ensure that she is properly recuperated.’’

Reading the riot act, Sifawa called for proper investigation into the matter and the prosecution of the suspects to serve as a deterrent to others who may want to engage in similar acts.

She said, “Under this administration, there is no room for assault and violation of any kind in the state. The government is committed to fighting such evil acts.’’

Joy was the cynosure of all eyes at a recent party organised for children at the Sokoto State Orphanage by the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs.

The Akwa Ibom-born victim of domestic abuse, dressed in a skirt and blouse with a black hijab, seems to have forgotten the maltreatment she suffered in the hands of her aunt and her husband.

Asked about her aunt, she said, “I don’t know anything about her. I have left her house and I am happy, enjoying in my new home. I am happy with my new friends. I will like to go back to Makaranta (school) and learn tailoring because I like fashion.”

Upon completion of investigation and the subsequent arraignment of the couple in court, Bassey Emmanuel and his wife, Esther, were sentenced by the Sokoto Magistrates’ court to three years imprisonment with N175,000 fine for confining their 12-year-old niece in an disused refrigerator for eight months.

Delivering his judgement, Chief Magistrate Shu’aibu Ahmad fined the couple N25,000 or six months jail term for criminal conspiracy

He also fined them N50,000 for wrongful confinement and in default, they would spend 12 months in prison.

He stated that the couple were found guilty of cruelty to a child and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment with N100,000 fine. In default, they would spend three years in prison.

Ahmad noted that they would serve the sentences concurrently.

He however granted their two children, Goodness Emmanuel and Happiness Emmanuel, bail in the sum of N500,000 and one surety each in the like sum.

Penultimate Thursday was a day of reunion for Jibrin Aliyu and his parents, after spending 15 months undergoing healthcare, courtesy of the Kebbi State Government.

In his narration, the Chief Medical Director and Permanent Secretary in charge of Sir Yahaya Memorial Hospital, Dr Aminu Haliru Bunza, said, “Over 20 medical specialists attended to Jibrin while living in the hospital.

“The boy is now well rehabilitated and the state government, apart from taking good care of him, would sustain the relationship and assistance to the boy, as part of plans to continue to take care of his health and well-being.

“We are today handing over Jibrin to his parents, after staying with us from August 10, 2020 to date. When he was brought in, about 15 months to Sir Yahaya Memorial Hospital, he was in a pathetic situation.

“During the course of his stay at the hospital, we were able to rehabilitate him, take good care of him, physically, nutritiously and mentally. While in the hospital, he was seen by over 20 different medical specialists of different medical backgrounds, those who work here and some that came from the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Lagos University Teaching Hospital and other facilities outside the country to ensure that he is in a good health condition. A team of medical specialists will be visiting him in his new home to monitor him and see how he is doing.”

In furtherance of the support, Governor Bagudu, who shouldered the responsibility for the boy’s medical care, had also mandated the Kebbi State Health Insurance Agency to provide health insurance cover to Jibrin to enable him enjoy free medical services.

From the Sir Yahaya Memorial Hospital, Birnin Kebbi, Jibrin and his parents moved into a two-bedroom flat donated by the state government at Badariya quarters. At their new home, Hajiya Zara Wali presented the sum of N50,000 donated by the wife of the governor, Dr Zainab Bagudu, to Jibrin’s family as  monthly allowance for the upkeep of the boy.

Narrating how the boy’s  ordeal started, Jibrin’s father, Aliyu Umar, said, “He was born hale and hearty like every normal child until he started exhibiting some traits about three years ago, which I considered abnormal.

“Tried as much I could to rescuscitate him, his condition did not get better. He became a source of concern to the entire family.

“The reason why I decided to keep him permanently indoors, was to hide him from the public, due to his deteriorating health condition and save the family from public embarrassment.”

An elated Umar thanked Governor Bagudu and his wife for their compassion and magnanimity to his son and the entire family.

“We can only say, may Allah bless the Governor and his family abundantly,” he prayed.

It would recalled that Sokoto State on November 18, 2021, joined other states who had domesticated the Child Right Act.

The Act is to protect the rights of the Nigerian child in tandem with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State described the law as a major landmark achievement of his administration and commended the key actors that ensured it suited and conformed with states that enshrined cultural and religious concerns.

Tambuwal said the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law was also signed by his administration, which showed commitment to end all forms of gender-based violence, sexual abuse and related abnormalities in society.

“We have the best child protection Llaw and VAPP law that conforms with the character concerns of the people of Sokoto State. The bill was possible through the efforts and commitment of the Sultanate Council, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Suleiman Usman (SAN), the Commissioner for Women and Children Affairs and others,” the governor said.

The states that are yet to domesticate the Child Rights Act are Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi,Yobe and Zamfara.