Children are regarded generally as precious gifts from God throughout the world. They are mostly treasured in Africa in general, and Igbo land in particular, where childlessness is traditionally not only regarded as a curse, but the victim, while alive is treated with great contempt, and at death, considered as flit worthy only to be thrown into the evil forest. This is because children are here not only seen as backup at old age, they are also means of family perpetuity.

        It is against this backup that children warmly welcomed, joyfully celebrated, diligently cared for and jealously protected. It is also explains why childless couples go extra miles in order to have children even through adoption: legally, “customarily”, or even illegally. What is baffling however is that some parents have abdicated this noble role and vocation, and turned their children into objects of abuse, neglect, domestic violence, etc.

        Here, at HRCRC, we are inundated with such complaints/cases of Child Rights Abuses. This is a microcosom of what is happening globally. No wonder, therefore, women and children issues have become trending in our contemporary world. This is because of their inerrability. It is to rise up to this challenge, and to give succor to these victims, that a separate department/programme was carved out and called women and children department/programme. During the first six (6) months of this year, this department alone has recarved a total of ninety (90) children and women related complaints. Thirty nine (39) out of these cases have been resolved while fifty one (51) are on-going.

        “A fugitive and a vagabond, not anymore: and there is a salvation in no other name but HRCRC” was a cry of relief, restoration and assurance by a young boy, who was re-united with his family after more than two (2) years of roaring about, like a sheep without a shepherded, because his father drove him out of his house. He suffered several forms of brutality in the hands of his father each time he tried to return to his family. It was the last of this circle of domestic violence that brought this boy in contact with HRCRC. On the fateful day, he was rushing to HRCRC office complex by a good Nigerian, who saw him lying semi-conscious in a pool and a deep bleeding wound at the back of his head.

HRCRC quickly mobilized two teams of her staff for action. One of the team was directed to invite the boy’s father, while the second team was charged with the responsibility of taking the boy to the hospital for immediate medical attention. This man now realizing the gravity of his offence, ran away from his house ignoring series of HRCRC’s invitation. In fact, it took the combined surveillance mounted by the staff of HRCRC and officers of Nigerian police, Central Police Station (CPS), Abakaliki before the man was finally tracked and arrested. Meanwhile, one week has passed and the boy had recuperated. He was able to volunteer his statement. You can listen to his story.

        “My name is Friday Odemigbo (not real name). I am fourteen (14) years old. I am the first child out of the six (6) children of my parents. My father’s name is Hyacinth Odemigbo (not real name). He is from Obollo-Afor Nsukka in Enugu state. My mother’s name is Elizabeth Odemigbo (not real name). She was married from Ezza, Akpoga Nike in Enugu state. My parents and siblings live at Onuebonyi, Inyimegu Izzi, opposite Rice Mill, Abakaliki. When I was about four (4) years of age, I was sent to live with my grandmother at Ezza Akpoga Nike. I lived with her until I pass my First School Leaving Examination (F.S.L.C.E) and National Common Entrance Examination.”

        “My ordeal started when my grandmother brought me back to my parents because she could not afford the cost of training me in secondary school. My father became angry because, according to him, he was finding it very hard to take care of my three (3) other brothers and two (2) sisters. He decided to give me out as a servant or labourer to his uncle, who works in cocoa plantation Ondo state. Having known the importance of education and the hardship associated with cocoa plantation, I refused to follow my uncle. My mother pleased with my father to leave me to stay with that because, according to her, “it is better to be managing life than to give away our first son to be a servant while we are still alive my mother cry and my mother’s plea fell on deaf ears as my father there and then decided that I must leave his house, unless I was ready to follow his uncle. Because I was too afraid to follow his uncle, I refused. He instantly threw me out of his house and hated my mother like the devil, since that day”.  

        “Since then I have been roaring the street, and bushes scavenging for what to eat, during which I have been exposed to unfavourable whether, bad boys and girls with the attendant negative influence. Without God’s grace, I would have died. Each attempt I made to return home, when the condition became unbearable, was an invitation of beating and other forms of brutality, worse than what I suffer outside. What you are witnessing today is a tip of the ice-boxg when compared to what I have suffered these years. Please, serve me or I perish,.

        The Police that arrested him directed him to the mediation table of HRCRC, after his several appeal for demancy, because according to him, he acted out of frustration. Hyacinth, his wife, his son, Friday, and the leadership of Nsukka Development Union, Abakaliki Branch met with HRCRC team of mediators. After series of mediation meetings, the matter was resolved; and both Friday and his mother were reconciled with Mr. Hyacinth. Part of the settlement agreement is that Friday shall complete his secondary education after which he can learn a trade of his choice. Mr. Hyacinth paid the medical bills of Friday. Finally, Friday was welcomed back by his parents and was happily re-united with his siblings. That was when Friday shouted in jubilation, “So, I am no longer a fugitive and a vagabond! Now I know that there is salvation in no other name but HRCRC!. The rest of the story is better left to be a subject of another editor of our magazine.

        This matter lasted for one month and two weeks, during which a total of eighteen (18) hours 35 minutes was spent. Over thirty eight (38) persons were contacted directly or indirectly and their awareness on Human Rights, especially children and women, were increased.                


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