Policemen in Ondo State on Thursday set free a six-year-old girl, Precious Michael, who was allegedly caged for five months by her foster mother, Mary (surname witheld), under the guise of being possessed of witchcraft.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mrs Hilda Ibifuro-Harrison, who disclosed this during a press conference at the command headquarters in Akure, the state capital, said aside being caged, the suspect also tied her hands and legs with rope and beat her with cane on daily basis.
Harrison explained that his men were hinted by people in the neighbourhood.
She explained that the little girl was at the point of death when she was rescued by policemen at Imafo village near Akure before she was taken to a hospital and had to be transfused with blood before she regained consciousness.
The police boss, who described the action of the 28-year-old mother of six as cruel and ungodly, said she was moved to tears following the inhumanity done to the toddler by her foster mother, when she saw the girl in her pathetic state.
She said “when I saw the little girl, I had to be strong as an officer; but my emotions took over my body because I didn’t even know she would survive. Even as a non-professional, you would know that she was at the point of death.”
She explained that the girl has bounced back, looking robust, after feeding her well for a week.
According to Harrison, the suspect said she suspected the little girl to be infected with HIV following signs of swollen legs and hands, claiming that the girl’s parents died of HIV.
“The suspect said the little Precious was brought from Enugu after the death of her parents to be schooling in Ondo State. The foster mother decided to keep her in the cage in order not to infect her children.
“The pregnant woman explained that she took the steps after informing her husband and decided to cage her for months where she was fed and also defecated,” the police boss said.
The suspect, while speaking with journalists, denied caging the little girl saying she separated her from the family members not to infect them with HIV.
Mary, from Enugu State, said she would have taken her to the hospital for treatment but had no money to pay for the medical bills and denied the allegations of maltreating the girl.
The little girl, Precious, who identified one of the police officers that have since been taking care of her as her mother, told the suspect that she lied.
Precious attributed her swollen hands and legs to the maltreatment from her aunty and the husband, saying that they tied her with rope and lacerated her flesh with knife.
The police commissioner, however, said the victim would be taken to the state welfare home, while the suspect would soon be charged to court for child abuse.