Husband of Chiamaka Okafor, the woman alleged to
have chained a 10-year-old girl, Promise Udeh, rescued by the Ogun State
Police Command, has made an excuse for his wife’s actions, saying that
she has partial insanity.
The rescue of Udeh at Alawaye community, Saraki in Adigbe area of
Abeokuta came on the heels of the earlier rescue of a nine-year-old boy
who was similarly chained by his father, a pastor of a white garment
church in Ogun State
Sunday Sun reliably gathered that little Promise was chained
by her aunt, identified as Chiamaka Okafor, 32, who accused her of
stealing N4,000. Promise is a primary one pupil from Ebonyi State, where
her parents also reside. Her aunt was said to have brought her to Ogun
State four years ago.
It was learnt that Promise often stole from her guardians and had
always been on the run, in a bid to escape punishment every time she
allegedly committed the theft.
Although the prime suspect, Chiamaka, a mother of four, is still at
large, her husband, Sunday Okafor, was arrested about 6pm on Wednesday
by the police and is being held in custody at Ibara Police Division,
Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.
When Okafor spoke with Sunday Sun, he lamented his wife’s neurological condition which, he claimed was responsible for her recent dastardly act.
His words: “My wife has mental illness and I have been taking her to
different church programmes to seek deliverance for her. I have been
trying to hide this from people but the truth is that my wife has
partial madness and, I have been taking her to different crusades since
we got married in 2006. As for Promise, she keeps stealing from us.
Times without count, I have been to the police in Adigbe to report her
to them but they keep advising me to manage the situation. I can tell
you that she has run away from the house up to seven times. Even her
teacher in school complains of same thing and punishes her for it. She
attends Saint Benedict Primary School, here in Adigbe.”
Okafor, a businessman who sells men’s wear and hails from Ebonyi
State, added: “To start with, I never knew she was chained. My wife did.
All along, we have been calling on her people in the village to come
and pick her, but they kept telling us to hold on till a later date.
When I came in the first day and saw that she was chained, I set her
loose, but did not know my wife was going to chain her again the next
day. I was surprised when I got to the police station and was shown the
picture of how Promise was chained. I just want everybody to know that I
didn’t chain Promise. It was my wife. I am not the type that
intimidates children. My biological children and even siblings can
testify to that. I think she did it based on the thought that the girl
may run away again, although I was never in support of that.”
When Sunday Sun reporter visited the home of the Okafor in
Alawaye, an agrarian community on the outskirts of Abeokuta, it was
learnt that worried neighbours alerted the police to the inhuman
treatment of Promise.
Speaking on this, 24-year-old Omotoyosi Odu, a student of Tai Solarin
University said: “My fiancé lives in that house and I came to visit him
on Tuesday, I was in his apartment when I heard the cry of the girl.
Another woman from the neighbourhood came out too and we both agreed
that I should give the girl some food to eat. I did, and when the woman
(Chiamaka) came back, she came to me and issued a stern warning to me
never to repeat what I had done. I didn’t mind her. The next day, she
still chained the girl in the arms and legs. At that moment, the girl
saw me and said ‘Aunty, please give me food to eat’. But I was reluctant
to heed her request, because the woman (Chiamaka) had warned me to
steer clear of the girl. Not too long after, I saw two men approaching
our building and immediately, I sensed that they were policemen and that
was how they arrested everyone they could lay their hands on and took
us to Adigbe Police Station.”
Another neighbour, Taofeek Adebayo, said: “I learnt that the girl has
always been mischievous. She steals from the house and the next thing
she does is to run away from home. The last time she ran away, she was
found at Ita Osin. I think the family had to tie her so that she won’t
run away again.”
A kinsman of the suspect, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity
gave a rather cultural insight into the incident. He said: “My dear
journalist, let me tell you something. You see, in Igboland, it is a
stigma to the entire family to have a mad person in the family. That may
make the family member to be ostracised from the community and this is
the pain that this man (Okafor) has been dealing with. He has since been
living with the problem of treating his wife who has partial madness
and with that, I think he needs to be pitied and given some
Promise at the orphanage
At the Stella Obasanjo Orphanage in Ibara, where Promise is
presently being looked after, the matron of the home, who simply
identified herself as Funke declined speaking with Sunday Sun,
saying a directive would have to come from the Ministry of Women
Affairs, which is the ministry that supervises the orphanage. All
efforts to reach the permanent secretary of the ministry were
unsuccessful as he did not respond to calls put to him.
At the Zone 2 Police Command in Ibara, Abeokuta, Acting Police
spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi, while confirming that Chiamaka was still at
large added that her husband was in police custody and investigation
into the incident was ongoing.
He said: “Our men at Adigbe received information that a 10-year old
girl was tied hands and legs to a burglary proof in an uncompleted
building. Upon mobilising our men, the girl told us that her aunt did
that to her on the allegation of stealing N4,000. We consider this as an
act of wickedness because in the first instance, the girl is a minor.
The girl wouldn’t have taken up stealing if not that she was being
starved because it is starvation that makes little children take to
stealing. Some parents would say they are going to discipline their
children by starving them, not knowing that such would only push them to
stealing. The woman has been on the run but, her husband was arrested
and has been helping us in our investigations. The Commissioner of
Police, Ahmed Iliasu, is not happy at all with the whole situation.
Barely a week ago, a boy was rescued from chains under the guise of
wanting to cast out an evil spirit from him. The CP has issued a stern
warning to residents that such acts of wickedness won’t be tolerated. It
is barbaric and unacceptable. Now, the CP has ordered a manhunt for
the woman so that others in her shoes will learn a lesson. As soon as we
conclude our investigation, they (suspects) would be charged to court,”