Officials of the Directorate for Citizens’ Rights had on Friday rescued the children and arrested Funmilayo after a post about her alleged maltreatment of the victims went viral on social media.
In a post by the Nigerian Women Blog on Facebook, it was alleged that Funmilayo was in the habit of locking the children, aged 12, nine and three, outside the house without food and beating them, which left bruises on their bodies.
It was gathered that the father of the children, who comes home on weekends, got married to Funmilayo after the death of their mother.
When PUNCH Metro visited the area on Saturday, it was learnt that Funmilayo had earlier been apprehended when concerned neighbours reported her at the Owutu Police Station, but she was released after about two hours and she reportedly boasted that nothing could be done to her.
Funmilayo’s neighbour, Mr Olushola Oyinlola, and his wife, Lola, who narrated the ordeal of the children to our correspondent, stated that when not much changed after reporting her at the police station, a petition was written to the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender and a Facebook post was made about the alleged maltreatment of the children.
Olushola noted that everyone in the neighbourhood knew about the maltreatment of the children but no one could challenge Funmilayo due to her troublesome nature.
Narrating the children’s ordeal, Olushola said, “There is a lot of maltreatment and abuse that one cannot explain; when you see the children, you will know that they are being maltreated and there are a lot of bruises all over their bodies.
“Funmilayo is stony-hearted and no one can correct or challenge her, because she believes that she can face anybody. She would not give the children food, but whenever the husband asked the children if they had eaten, they were too scared to talk; and if they dared say that they had not eaten, she would say that they were lying.
“There was a time the couple went for a wedding in Ibadan and spent four days, leaving the children behind. They ate on the first day, but I noticed that they had not eaten on the second day and I asked the female one to go and cook for the rest, but she said she could not, because they had been warned not to touch the gas cooker or stove in the house except the electric cooker and there was no power; so, I asked them how they would cope and she said since there was no electricity, they could not eat.
“My wife and I gave them money to go and buy food and we went out, but when we came back, the eldest child told us that one of his younger ones had been running temperature and had headache since we went out; so, we gave them money to go and buy drugs. We could not give them from the ones we had at home, because their stepmother had taken us as enemies and we did not want a situation where she would say that we poisoned them or she poison the children and tell people that we did.
“The parents travelled without making provisions for them for the days they would spend; we were the ones taking care of them and when they came back, the stepmother questioned the youngest child, whom she knew would talk.
“Immediately she knew that they collected something from us, she started shouting, cursing and said that she preferred that the kids would die than for them to collect anything from anybody and she used to lock them out of the house for more than a month anytime she was leaving the house in the morning till evening; she would come back without food just because they collected something from us.
“There was a time we heard a noise from their flat but we could not come out because she would create a scene, but when I saw the female child the following day, she had a deep cut on her face and when I asked her what happened, she said the stepmother used a razor blade to cut her.
“There was a day she alleged that the kids ate from the soup inside the refrigerator and she poured grounded pepper in their eyes and locked them in the house and went out till the following day; and when she came back, she asked the female child to bring out the gas cooker, but unfortunately for the girl, she did not know that the pot of soup was on it because she could not see well and the pot fell and Funmilayo packed the stew and poured it on the girl’s face.
“When we reported the case at the Owutu Police Station, nothing came out of it; she was arrested and within two hours, she came back boasting that there was nothing anybody could do to her. So, when I saw that all efforts to rescue the children had proved abortive, I resorted to writing about their ordeal on my Facebook wall for people to see and render help.”
The Director of Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Kayode Oyekanmi, confirmed the rescue of the children to our correspondent and the arrest of the stepmother, adding that the children had been put in protective custody.
“The children were rescued by the Directorate of Citizens’ Right and they are already in protective custody and the stepmother has been arrested and detained at the Owutu Police Station and she will be arraigned on Monday (today),” he stated.
Also, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, confirmed the arrest of Funmilayo and the rescue of the children.
“We have rescued the kids, while the woman has been arrested and will be charged,” he told PUNCH Metro.