A 47-year-old woman identified as Zainab Suleiman has been remanded in prison by the Chief Magistrates' Court in Akure, Ondo State's capital on charges of child abuse and torture.
The lady who was arraigned before the court by the Ondo State Police Command, reportedly inflicted injuries on her niece Victoria Williams who has been living with her since 2017 with her fingernails and horsewhips.
The charge sheet reads:
“That you, Zainab Suleiman, on the 31 January 2020 at Oke-Odu via Ipinsa, Akure, did unlawfully assault Victoria Williams aged 12 years by using your fingernails to inflict injuries all over her body and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 355 of the Criminal Code Cap 37, Vol 1., Laws of Ondo State of Nigeria 2006.
“That you Zainab Suleiman, on the same date, and place did injure one Victoria Williams by causing her deep wound on her body and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 338 of the criminal code cap 37 vol 1 laws of Ondo state of Nigerian 2006.”
Speaking to newsmen before her trial, Zainab said inflicting injuries on her niece wasn't intentional. She also disclosed that she decided to take custody of her younger sister’s daughter after she lost her 3 children.
“It was a mistake. I cannot pinpoint exactly what she did wrong. She has been living with me since 2017. I enrolled her in a very good school and I train her very well.
“We always read together and I do assist her in school homework. What actually led to the beating was when I noticed that she has not been taking notes in school and the school was preparing for test.
“I queried her but she refused to answer me. Also, I saw a book that used to be 40 leaves which has been shredded to eight leaves in her bag. I asked her where she got it from; she said one of her classmates gave it to her.”
"I was not convinced with her response so I went to her school where the student denied giving her any book.
“She is my niece. Her mother lives in Kogi State. I was the one who pleaded with her mother to release her to me so that she can be living with me here in Akure. I gave birth to three children but they are all dead.”
Victoria who however cried out in pain, alleged that she was brutalized by her aunt who wrongly accused her of eating a fish she was sent to buy.
The little girl said;
“It all started on a particular day when she accused me wrongly of eating one of the fish she sent me to buy whereas the fish mistakenly fell on the road.
“She didn’t touch me until the third day when she beat me with a horsewhip and also used her fingernails to cut my body.
“So, anytime I didn’t finish the house chores on time or I could not solve my school homework she will use her fingernails and horsewhip to inflict injuries on my body.”
Magistrate Olufunke Adegoroye who presided over the case, ordered that Zainab who pleaded 'not guilty' to charges against be remanded in prison custody till February 11, 2020.
Adegoroye also ordered that the case be transferred to the Family Court since it involves a minor, while the young girl should be taken to juvenile home after being given medical attention.