Tongues have begun to wag in Bayelsa following the discovery of a 16-year-old girl, Blessing Olokumo who had been locked up in a cage for the past 30 months by her parents over an alleged witchcraft induced illness.
Saturday Sun gathered that the cage that has housed the victim for two and half years is just by the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital in Okolobiri community, Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state. She was rescued from the cage few days ago by the Mary Slessor Twins Foundation.
The group, led by its acting president, Mr Robert Ebitei Tonye, disclosed that preliminary investigations revealed that Blessing was diagnosed with an illness nine years ago which triggered convulsion.
Findings by Saturday Sun revealed that when Blessing was taken to the hospital for medical attention nine years ago, the parents were asked to pay N15, 000 for her treatment. It was further learnt that the father, who said he could not afford such medical bill, requested her to be discharged and signed a form that he was taking her from the hospital against medical advice.
He was said to have later taken her to different traditional homes for her illness to be cured and when no solution was forthcoming, especially when she defecates and vomits in the house, he decided to construct a cage where she was kept.
Concerned neighbours, who have watched in horror the maltreatment Blessing was subjected to, alerted the group known for its campaign against maltreatment of twins in the state.
The first day the group went to the house to rescue her, Tonye said some strange occurrences and the blunt refusal of the father to hand her over, prevented the group from rescuing her. But on its second mission, they succeeded and immediately took her to the Okolobiri hospital.
While lamenting the condition of the teenager, Tonye said: “She was kept like a rabbit. She was given food when it was available and was allowed to sleep in her vomit, feces and urine. She lost weight and could have died”.
At the Okolobiri hospital where she is kept, many who visited her described her parents’ action as wicked and callous.
Speaking further on the incident, Tonye said: “The father told us that the girl has been sick for 13 years and since she refused to die, she was locked up. We rescued her and took her to the hospital. Our pre-occupation is to stabilize her condition before we ensure we press charges against the parents”
Scared that he could be arrested, Saturday Sun gathered that Olokumo has already gone underground. The mother, Mrs Olokumo, who now stays with her at the hospital, lamented that they have spent all their money to get solution to her problem.
According to her, since they could not get money to get her proper medical attention, they decided to give up and she allowed the father to handle it.
Dr Oyedeji Adeyemi of the NDUTH, who is attending to her, explained that her case is that of seizure disorder which was not properly treated.
“The case is principally a case of a child having a seizure disorder in what some people would call epilepsy which in technical terms is seizure disorder which was not treated appropriately. Rather than give her medical attention, she was kept out of the house, sort of restricted environment and barely fed which had over time led to malnutrition”, Adeyemi stated.
Some civil society groups have already concluded plans to give all the necessary support to the Mary Slessor Twins Foundation to see that Blessing’s parents do not go free for the act of inhumanity to their own child.