Gift Ohanazoeze, mother of 19-month-old Obinna Udeze, a pupil of Arise and Shine Nursery and Primary School, Asaba, who was flogged to death by his teacher, has narrated her ordeal in her bid to get justice for her son.
The aggrieved mother explained that the Investigating Police Officer, one Sergeant Austin of the Delta State Criminal Investigation Department had made her sojourn to seeking justice difficult as he refused to share the date for hearing the case in court with her.
According to her, the officer also told her to get a lawyer and insulted her about her financial incapability.
Ohanazoeze over the weekend narrated her ordeal to the Advocate for Children and Vulnerable People’s Network.
She said while she was not informed about the next sitting by an authoritative source, she learnt that the court would sit on March 15. And when she asked the IPO about the date, he told her not to show up in court as the accused persons were only coming for bail application.
Ohanazoeze added that the Delta State Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Community Support Services, Bridget Anyafulu, also shamed her for her financial situation when she was invited to the Commissioner’s office.
She claimed the commissioner and two other people present — one who identified as a doctor/lecturer and another who identified as a Minister, urged her to repent and accept Christ as she had not lived a good life by having a child without a father.
According to her, the Commissioner and her partners said even if little Obinna had not been beaten to death, he would have still died when he died as that was the date God appointed for him to die.
Ohanazoeze said the commissioner further threatened to withdraw from the case, a situation that will make justice hard for the young lady and her late son.
She said, “I was not informed of the court date, that was last two weeks. On that day, they were already at the court before the IPO called me that I should come to the court if I like, those were his words. I went to the court and on getting there, I was not introduced to the prosecutor they brought.
“When the magistrate said they will adjourn the case that they should pick a date, I was waiting for the IPO and prosecutor so I could know the date. So, after their discussion, I went to my IPO to know the date fixed for the court, he said I should not disturb him. He said why would I allow people to start calling him.
“He started insulting me, shouting at me, I wondered what I did wrong. He said to me that why would I come out for a case when I know I don’t have money. He said don’t I know that people who don’t have money don’t do (sic) case? This is Sergeant Austin from the State CID. When he said all of these, I started crying; people were there. Even the women around asked him if he was okay and why he would say such things to me, that I had just lost a child.
“The next thing the man did was to leave me there, went out and bought bottled water for the accused persons — the proprietress and her son. They started talking, looking at me and laughing at me. The proprietress started eyeing me, a lady that was beside me, I think the clerk asked her how she could be heartless, the proprietress started laughing and took the bottled water.
“I was asking Mr Austin when the next court date was, he left me there and drove off.
“Four days later, about past 11 pm, a text message came in from the humanitarian affairs commissioner, she wrote in the text, ‘What do you want to do with your life going forward? What is your qualification? What do you want? Where exactly are you from? See me tomorrow with the above in mind, good night’. I saw it but I didn’t call her because of the time.
“The following morning, I called her. She said I should come to her office. When I got there, I met two people, one said she is a lecturer and a doctor and a man there said he is the minister for information, I was looking at them.
“The first thing the woman (commissioner) told me she wanted me to understand was that even if my son was not flogged to death by the teacher, my son would still have died on the day he died, I looked at her and she said it again.
“She said she wanted to be plain with me, that considering my background, circumstances surrounding my existence with the child, that it is a very bad reputation, and that she didn’t want it to escalate, She said I should forget about what had happened, give my life to Christ and turn a new leaf, that it was irresponsible of me to have a child without a father.
“She was saying things that were not what I wanted to hear. I then asked her that ‘mummy, is it because my son has no father, was that why his life was taken away from him?’ she kept quiet. She said I am too ‘forward’, that I talk too much. She said she checked my history, that all the people I was calling would not help me.
“She said if she decided to back out from the case, I would have nobody to speak for me, that I was crying to her when I could barely feed, that if she withdrew, I would suffer. She said even if the government decides to give me money, I would not be able to use it because robbers would rob me, kidnappers would kidnap me.
“The other lady, the one who claimed to be a doctor said I’m too small, that even if the government wants to give me money, I cannot handle it. She said I should tell them I want to repent because the life I lived is not good. I said these are not the things I want to hear, I started crying.
“My grandmother was with me, she asked them if what they were saying was what they were supposed to be saying. The man said he would advise me to be under somebody or go back to school. He asked what I wanted. I said sir, ‘I need justice’, he said even if they send the woman and her son to prison, it won’t change anything for me that they want to help me, that maybe they can send me back to school or get me a house.
“I insisted that I lost a child and all the offers were unnecessary. The Commissioner, Mrs Bridget Anyafulu, said don’t I know that the day God created my son, he already had a destined date for death? That anybody that has come to the world is old enough to die. I started crying.
“I said I’ve heard her so my grandmother asked if that was why I was invited. The commissioner said yes that they called me to see how they could help me that she was the one forcing herself to know if the government could listen to me.
“She was there is nothing the government can do in this case, my mother said no problem that if the government cannot give her innocent great-grandchild justice, she would go where she has to go for God to vindicate her child.
“Just recently, I got information that court will be sitting on 15th March which is a Tuesday. I decided to call the IPO Sergeant Austin. After calling and greeting him, I asked him which day is the next sitting, he said what am I coming to the court to do?
“He told me that the court sitting on Tuesday, my presence is not needed, that they are coming to court for bail, and that they’re requesting for another autopsy. He said I should go and get my lawyer whereas he told me earlier that the prosecutor will speak on my behalf. He said he didn’t have my time and that I should know that to prosecute a case, I would need to have money, that he had nothing to tell me.”
When the ACVPN contacted the humanitarian affairs commissioner, she said, “Tell the mother that she lied, I’m the one that told her that she has to be in court. I don’t want to be a part of this controversy; the state government is doing everything possible to make sure that all is well.
“So, if she continues to lie like that, I don’t know what to do. She knew they were going to court, I called her, her father and mother and I told them the court, so why is she saying nobody told her?
“If they want to follow up a matter like this, you wait for the court to decide, what it means is that, what the government is doing, they are not satisfied.
“We have followed best practices; the government has followed this matter. The government made sure the police and hospital carried out an autopsy, and they are still waiting for the final…why will she say she was not carried along? I visited her house, invited her with the grandmother to discuss with her. I told her anytime she wants to discuss with me, she should just call me.”