Child abuse, child labour, torture and man’s inhumanity to maids is not peculiar to Nigeria. It is a challenge that even exists beyond Africa. However the alarming rate of increase in such incidents in Nigeria, especially against house helps, is becoming worrisome. In most cases, the maid’s parents promise to put kids in school when taking them from their parents but what eventually happens at the caretaker’s home is better imagined. Such incidents are either reported to human rights organizations or law enforcement agencies by who constantly witnessed the regular abuse of the housemaid or they are secretly recorded and exposed on social media.
Incidents of domestic torture involving house helps were rampant across Nigeria in 2020. From brutally beating up house helps, to starving them of food for days, using hot iron on them, or even making them experience unbelievable pain to the point of death, most of these cases went viral on social and mainstream media during the year in review. But some of them were so gruesome that there was unusually high level of public outrage and calls for the guardians or other adults involved, to face the full wrath of the law.
We decided to compile a list of the worst of these incidents as a reminder to the society that people who perpetrate such heartlessness should not be allowed to go scot-free, without facing some form of penalty, no matter how little. Anyone who does not want to treat a house help like a human being shouldn’t have one in the first place. These incidents are so heartless that they made our top list of the most terrible incidents in 2020 where house helps, most of them children, were tortured by their guardians in an unbelievable manner for allegedly committing an offence. What we presented here are confirmed cases of domestic abuse of house helps by their guardians, as reported in the media, not unclear cases still being considered either as murder or alleged suicide. Here’s a list of top ten most heartless incidents of domestic torture against house helps in 2020.
10. Seven-year-old boy who was gruesomely beaten for eating food without permission
At number ten is this outrageous incident involving a seven-year-old boy beaten to a pulp by his-step father. On August 2, disturbing photos of the boy went viral on social media showing how he had been left with multiple injuries after he was gruesomely beaten by his stepfather.
Shocking photos shared online showed the boy with a swollen face and wounds all over his body. As for his crime, it was reported that the little boy in the afternoon, ate some parts of the food that was meant for dinner.
Though the story was a bit sketchy, without really indicating where the incident occurred, reports had it that the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria was following up on the case.
9. Woman inserts pepper into private part of a 14-year old
This incident which happened in Rivers State, Nigeria, involved a 14-year-old girl, Mary Okon Elijah, who hails from Akwa Ibom State. Officers and men of the Rivers State Police command arrested and interrogated a middle-aged woman, Madam Blessing Tamunokoru, for allegedly inserting pepper into the private part of a 14-year old housemaid, an allegation she denied.
The State Chairman of the Civil Rights Council, Prince Wiro, who was alerted of the girl’s situation recalled that he saw the girl weeping and hawking kerosene. He said he then approached the girl with some neighbours and she told them that her madam inserted pepper in her private part and most times she did not eat. The girl had also alleged that her madam used wire to flog her and sometimes she poured hot water on her legs to inflict injuries on her for not being able to sell all the kerosene given to her to hawk around the market.
It was gathered that based on complaints from neighbours to the police over the inhuman treatment meted out on her maid, detectives attached to the Central Police Station, Port Harcourt Township effected the arrest of Madam Blessing Tamunokoru. Reports say that neighbours who constantly witnessed regular abuse of the housemaid by her madam alerted a human rights organisation.
When contacted, spokesman of the Rivers State Police Command, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed arrest of Tamunokoru, assuring that she would be charged to court soon for the law to take its full course.
8. Couple torture houseboy over N100 akara
An eight-year-old boy identified as Wisdom, was brutally tortured in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria, by a couple he was living with over an incident involving N100 bean cake (akara). The incident was exposed on Thursday, July 27.
Men of Orji divisional headquarters of the Imo State Police Command arrested Mr Goodluck and Mrs Benita Ogbuji, for allegedly torturing Wisdom who was their houseboy for buying N100 worth of bean cake instead of that of N50.
Two journalists, Chidiebube Okeoma and Harriet Ijeomo, who led policemen to the couple’s residence at Umudagu Mbieri in the Mbaitoli Local Government Area of the state, claimed that the man and his wife dehumanised the boy for buying N100 worth of bean cake, instead of N50.
Okeoma said they got information that a couple dehumanised and almost killed their houseboy because he bought bean cake of N100 instead of N50. They made inquiries through social media and got address of the house where the incident happened. The journalists then mobilised policemen to the place in the early hours of Thursday and got the couple arrested, after rescuing the innocent child. Punch reports that the boy had been out of school since 2019.
At the police station, the accused housewife, Benita, blamed the act on the devil, saying she regretted it.
7. Six-year-old boy suffers fracture on his right leg after alleged torture by his aunt
Friday September 18, The Katsina State Police Command paraded a 45-year-old woman, Rahma Sani, for allegedly maltreating a 6-year-old boy Abdulkadiri Mu’awuya, under her care.
Parading the suspect at the command headquarters, the police spokesman, SP Isah Gambo, said that the woman, who resides at Kwado Quarters in Katsina was said to be a member of staff of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) in Katsina.
“Rahama Sani who lives with an adopted child, one Abdulkadiri Mu’awuya, aged 6 years, was found to have subjected him to various inhuman and degrading treatments.” Gambo said.
Gambo said the woman was arrested on September 15 at about 5pm, and in the course of investigation, the boy was found with injuries on his body and fracture on his right leg.
According to reports, the PPRO added that the boy was taken to the General Hospital, Katsina for treatment as investigation continued.
Responding to questions from journalists, the woman said the father of the boy left him in her custody, saying he had separated from his mother and the boy’s stepmother had refused to take care of him.
“When he brought him, he said he had taken him to different places but usually after two days they would ask him to come and take the boy. I asked whether he had any problem, he said nothing, only that the boy is naughty, beating other boys and scraps paints from walls with his teeth,” she said.
However, it was reported that there was an incident in which she was arrested earlier when the boy was found crying with tied hands and legs at her residence while she was not there.
At the police station the woman said she lied that she adopted the boy from Kano as a result of an auto crash that claimed the lives of his parents.
She said she lied then because there were people attempting to take him to an orphanage, adding that the father dumped the boy for nine months without any care.
Speaking with Daily Trust on Sunday September 20, the mother of the child who gave her name as Khadija, said her husband had collected the child for circumcision and from then she knew nothing about his whereabouts.
Also speaking, the father of the boy who identified himself as Mu’awuya, alleged that he had made several attempts to visit the boy lately but Mrs. Sani kept telling him that she was not in town. He said he was introduced to the woman by his friend.
6. Police in Ogun rescue six year old girl after her stepmother allegedly tortured her using nails
July 29, the social media came alive with reports of a six-year-old girl tortured by her step-mother using nails.
The police in Ogun State rescued the girl after her stepmother, Abimbola, allegedly tortured her with nails at their residence in Ijagba, in the Sagamu Local Government Area of the state.
The little girl’s plight was brought to the notice of the police by a non-governmental organization, Olanrewaju Omo-George Foundation, after it received reports from concerned neighbors about the horrific treatment her father Taiwo Onabanjo and his new wife meted out on the minor. The foundation’s supervisor, Christopher Onuegbu, said immediately the report was received, a complaint was made at the Sagamu police division and the couple was immediately arrested.
“We received a distress call that a stepmother had been torturing a child with nails. The stepmother used the nails to inflict injuries on her head and body, and we asked for the location and the person said it was in Ijagba, Sagamu. I informed our secretary to report the incident at the Sagamu Police Station, where two policewomen accompanied our secretary to the address and arrested the stepmother.
“During the arrest, the neighbours came out and testified that the woman had been maltreating the child. A call was made to the husband and when he came, he supported his wife and the Divisional Police Officer arrested him. The child has been running a temperature because she was brutalised from head to toe; we took her to the Skylack Medical Hospital, where she is receiving treatment.
We are trying to locate the biological mother of the child, who is said to be in Ijebu-Igbo. Our foundation has decided to settle the victim’s medical bills and sponsor her education until she graduates from higher institution.”Onuegbu said
5. Eight-year-old boy burnt with electric iron by aunt for eating N50 groundnut
August 16, 2020 would never be forgotten by this 8-year-old boy. This was the day he experienced a life-long traumatic nightmare in the hands of his aunt. Here’s what happened.
The boy was said to have eaten N50 worth of groundnuts without permission. When his aunt returned from Sunday church service and noticed that the groundnuts were missing, she gave the poor boy the torture of his life. The unidentified lady was very angry to the extent that she decided to scar the child’s body with a hot iron, leaving him with life-long scars.
The incident happened at Anantigha, Calabar South, on Sunday August 16, after the woman, who serves as guardian to the boy and his two siblings returned from Sunday service, only to discover that the groundnut she left at home was gone. She reportedly confronted the boy about the missing groundnut.
When the boy confirmed he ate it, she then plugged an electric iron and used it to burn the boy’s back, reports Vanguard. She also denied him food for the day.
The human rights group who rescued the boy, said it also found older scars on the boy’s body and fingers, a sign that his aunty has been abusing him for a very long time.
The boy and his other siblings have been living with the ‘cruel’ aunt for about three years.
The Principal Counsel, Basic Rights Initiative, James Ibor, said his office was alerted by another group, Girl Power Initiative, GPI.
GPI said the lady had been assaulting her nephew with hot iron, burning stove and other hot objects.
“From what the boy has told us, which is also very visible, he has been tortured and traumatised, and the boy is in serious pains. From here we are taking him to a medical facility where he can get adequate care,” Ibor said.
“We have written to the Police and the State Ministry of Humanities and Social Welfare to enable us take good care of him in our own shelter home, because we cannot allow the child to go back to the aunt again”.
Ibor did not state whether the woman has been arrested.
4. Woman arrested for allegedly torturing her househelp by burning her vagina and butt with lighter and inserting hot sticks before rubbing pepper in it
At number four on our list is another gruesome incident involving a woman who was arrested after she allegedly subjected her house help to a series of brutal torture that shocked Nigerians. Her house help who experienced unbelievable torture is a 14-year-old girl named Princess. She lived with her parents in Kaduna until they were displaced by bandits following an attack on their community. As a result, Princess’ parents had to place their daughter in the home of Mrs. Iyema Oyemola Oyewole, a deaconess of Living Faith Church in Barnawa, as they didn’t want her to be homeless.
While at the deaconess’ home, Princess was allegedly subjected to torture from the deaconess and from her children while the husband allegedly turned a blind eye.
It was alleged that the Princess was stopped from going to school, made to sleep in the toilet and she had to drink water from the toilet when thirsty. She was allegedly beaten frequently. The deaconess and her children were also accused of torturing the girl at different times.
Reports claim the Deaconess tortures the girl by putting a knife on fire till it’s hot before using it to burn Princess all over her face. Photos of Princess show her with burns and scars all over her face, butt and vagina area. It was alleged that the Deaconess also burns the girl’s vagina with lighter and sometimes inserts a hot stick into her vagina while her daughters help her hold the girl’s legs open. Afterwards, they would allegedly apply pepper to her vagina.
She also allegedly refused to let the girl’s parents see her each time they tried because she didn’t want them seeing the injuries on her body. Whenever Princess’ parents showed up, she told them they couldn’t come in because of Coronavirus.
Eventually, Princess’ father became suspicious and got the NGOs involved. They were shocked at the state they finally saw Princess in.
When the deaconess was questioned, she said she didn’t know the fire she used to torture the girl was that hot.
“I didn’t know the fire was burning very well like that,” she allegedly said.
This is one of the incidents of domestic torture that took Nigerians by storm and caused serious public outrage.
3. Lady pours hot water on 8-year-old house help for licking milk
September 29, the social media got flooded with images of an eight-year-old girl who was looking traumatized as a result of inhuman treatment she received from her aunt. The girl identified as Nma, was in serious pain after her aunt had allegedly poured hot water on her for licking milk belonging to the baby she was looking after. The girl was also said to have been experiencing series of torture in the hands of the couple she was living with as their house help. The incident happened in Nanka, Anambra State.
The couple identified as Mrs. Ogochukwu Anichukwu and Mr. Emmanuel Anichukwu were accused of flogging the little girl mercilessly and starving her repeatedly. It was further gathered that the girl had been seen several times eating sand because of starvation.
The couple was dragged to the human right legal initiative in Ekwulobia, Anambra State following the injury their 8-year-old house help sustained after allegedly being poured hot water by her aunt.
The lady reportedly poured hot water on her househelp because she caught her licking milk meant for her baby.
Facebook user, Jane Iyke who shared their photos wrote;
This case is before Human right legal initiative Ekwulobia Anambra State already but if you know this girl Mma from Awgu Enugu State, kindly advise the family to come and pick their child before they bring her back in corpse.
This child is living with Mrs. Ogochukwu Anichukwu from Ndikelionwu and Mr. Emmanuel Anichukwu from Enugu State as a househelp in Nanka Anambra state.
This girl’s offense was that she licked the milk meant for her baby, she poured hot water on her and locked her inside so that neighbors won’t see her in that state.
The neighbours confirmed to have seen the girl eating sand severally because of starvation. She’s now used to flogging which was why the woman used hot water this time.
The neighbor that reported to the Human rights legal aid according to them entered their house unexpectedly and caught Mma trying to run inside to avoid being seen as she was vehemently warned not to allow anyone see her.
The girl was then taken to the hospital for proper medical care.
2. Woman reportedly chops off her niece’s finger in Onitsha
At number two is another unbelievable story. It was viral on social media, though a bit sketchy. A woman reportedly chopped off her niece’s finger as punishment for an undisclosed offence in Onitsha, Anambra State
The Facebook user who posted the photos on Wednesday, September 23, said that the woman hails from Enugu State. Here’s what the Facebook user wrote:
“U people should come and see Ekwensu Nwanyi ooooo An onitsha based Enugu state woman cuts off the finger of her niece living with her” he wrote.
If not that this story was captured on social media, who would have believed it? Terrible indeed!
1. Woman drives six-inch nail into maid’s skull, locks her up in toilet
This made our list as the worst of the most heartless incidents of torture against househelps in 2020. A 10-year-old girl, Nneoma Nnadi might have to live forever with the ugly scar inflicted on her by a woman she was handed over to serve as a maid. The incident took place at their Thinkers Corner residence in Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria.
Reports have it that her madam, a young woman and mother of two, Mrs. Ifeoma Ozougwu, on Thursday, the 2nd of July, allegedly drove a six-inch nail into her skull. It was also alleged that the woman inserted ground red pepper into Nneoma’s private part and locked her inside one of the toilets in their residence.
The young woman and her husband, who hail from Aku in Igbo Etiti Local Council of Enugu State, were arrested by the Police at the Enugu Area Command. Reports had it that then woman and her husband had maltreated the little girl for a long time. The Guardian reported that the nail in Nneoma’s skull was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
It was further gathered that hot pressing iron had been used on Nneoma’s body severally, thus inflicting permanent burns on her. On each occasion, she was usually locked up inside the toilet.
Neighbours had alerted the Police several times about the maltreatment of the young girl, but each time the Police visited, they would search the whole house without locating the girl, as Mrs. Ozougwu always told them Nneoma had gone to her relation’s house.
The neighbours were said to have investigated and found out that the girl was constantly locked inside their toilet and starved of food. Help came to her on Thursday when the neighbours alerted the Police of her incarceration and upon searching the toilet, found the girl locked inside.
The Police swiftly rescued the little girl, arrested the woman and took the girl to Enugu State University of Science and Technology Teaching Hospital in Parklane, where she was receiving intensive care. At the hospital, part of her forehead was still bleeding, as a result of the nail allegedly driven into it.
This incident infuriated the public to the extent that people who stormed the hospital where police had arrived with the house maid’s guardian, were insisting on mobbing the woman but the police drove the angry crowd away.
That was by far the worst incident of brutal torture of househelps in Nigeria in 2020.
These are very few among the many gruesome incidents of torture witnessed in Nigeria in 2020. No sane person would wish any of these happened to their child. Such cases of extreme torture of househelps should be put to an end in Nigeria. Parents need to monitor what happens after handing over their kids to guardians.