- Father, step-mother force boy, 7, to eat from dustbin
- We always beat him because he’s stubborn, farts often, says dad
These are, of course, not the best of times for seven-year-old Hosanna Ofor. Apart from being denied the inalienable right and comfort of still being under his mother’s care and enjoying some sentimental attachment to her, hapless Hosanna is allegedly undergoing harrowing times in the hands of his biological father and step-mother.
The number 2, Oshosanya Street, off Powerline, Egbeda, Lagos, home of his father has become nothing but a hell-hole for the 7-year-old boy.
His bruised head, face, lips and other parts of his body bear much more than the tell-tale signs of the abuse the young boy suffers at home. He’s also denied the food ration a normal child of his age takes for granted. Looking scraggy and unkempt, Hosanna has somewhat grown used to being beaten and knocked here and there by his father and stepmother. He’s denied the opportunity of going to school or having any form of education, even when offered scholarship by some good Samaritans.
Every action of his attracts heavy physical sanction, often complemented with corporal punishments, from both his father and step-mother. Even when he farts, he’s given serious beatings by the couple.
Hosanna’s condition has degenerated to an extent that he now competes for food with rodents as he’s been compelled to eat rotten leftovers from the dustbins of neighbours.
Our correspondent learnt that due to the enormity of the alleged torture being meted out to Hosanna by his father and step-mother, his ordeal has attracted the attention of the police and a human rights organization.
A neighbour to the Offors, who simply identified herself as “Mama Oluchi,” said that the boy had, in the past one year, had no respite from the frequent corporal punishment and hunger the couple had always subjected him to.
She said, “Since 2015 that this boy, Hosanna, came to this house, he has not enjoyed any other thing in life than punishment and various beatings. Sometimes, you will wake up in the morning and find him already serving punishment. And when we try to ask them why, his step mother either claim that he steals food from her pot or does something else. There are occasions that this poor boy will be left in hunger till the evening before they feed him. And if you try to give him food, the woman and her husband will descend on him heavily at night. When most of the residents of this house stopped giving him food due to frequent beatings he always received from his father and his wife, whenever anyone tried to feed him, the young boy resorted to eating from dustbins around the house, whenever he is hungry.”
Corroborating Mama Oluchi, another neighbour of the couple, Rhoda, also said, “On several occasions, the little boy is tortured by his step-mother, who, sometimes, leaves him to starve for a whole day. “Right now the child is not in school. A school wanted to enroll him in this area for free, but the woman, who is his step-mother, declined, saying they may be moving out of the house soon. The landlord and the couple have had serious quarrels over the punishment they always give this child. He has told them that if they don’t stop maltreating the boy, he would send them packing. But instead of being cautious, they would abuse him and ask him to mind his business, saying that they own the boy. There are occasions when the boy will be asked to kneel down for hours and they would not heed people’s pleas on his behalf. I will advise that the boy should not be brought back to them; if not, they will kill him,” she said.
The founder of Esther Child Right Foundation, Esther Ogwu, who moved to rescue Hosanna when sent an SOS by concerned neighbours, alleged that when they arrived at the residence of the Offors, they met the boy allegedly being maltreated by his father and his step-mother.
According to her, “It was on a Sunday that I was called by four different people about what the little boy was going through in the hands of both his father and step mother. One of the people who called me told me that, as a matter of fact, the boy had been under serious punishment for hours without being given any food. She also begged me to listen to the boy’s cry on phone, as she took the phone to the place where the boy was kept under punishment. And when she did, I was hearing the boy’s serious cry with the way they were beating him. After that, about three people also called me at night that I should come so that the boy will not be killed, but unfortunately, I couldn’t move on that evening, I had to defer my movement till the following morning.
“On Monday I quickly moved there, and on getting there, I met the stepmother whose name is Happiness Offor, and I requested to see the child before I ask her any question. When they brought Hosanna outside, he looked horrible, because as at that time, it was about 2pm and he had not eaten anything on that day.
“When I tried to ask him questions, his voice was faint and I quickly ordered snacks for him and immediately, he finished the three snacks with a soft drink. After taking the snacks and soft drink, he then started talking to us. And when we saw him, his body was full of bruises. After some interrogation, we had to take them to Agege Police Division, where I was told that the case would be going to court on Wednesday.”
But without any pretence of remorse over the alleged abuse of his child, Hosanna’s father told our correspondent that the “stubbornness” of his little son earned him the frequent beatings from him and his wife.
“This boy you are talking about is my son, and I can tell you that he is very stubborn. And as a result of this, I have to deal with him to check him. He would always do something that would warrant his being beaten. For example, on that Sunday that he was beaten, we were just inside together with some people and all of a sudden, he farted and the whole house was filled with foul smelling odour. We had to discipline him. There are several things that he does that you cannot overlook without cautioning him,” Offor said.
When asked if he’s aware that his son had been eating leftovers from his neighbour’s dustbins, Offor said, “I am aware that he eats from the dustbin, and that is one of the reasons that I told you that he’s very stubborn. There was a day he went to pick an orange from a neighbour’s dustbin and I had to beat him for that because that was indiscipline.”
He, however, disclosed that the little boy had been handed over to his mother, who was in his house after they resolved the issue at the Agege Police Division.
Meanwhile, police sources confirmed to our correspondent that the case could not be charged to court because Offor and Hosanna’s step-mother signed an undertaking not to maltreat the little boy anymore.
“We could no longer take the case to court. Emmanuel Offor and his wife had signed an undertaking to, henceforth, take proper care of the child and they have been asked to go,” a senior police officer from the Agege Division said.