Neighbours of 37-year-old Chioma Ochemba, a commercial sex worker in Ayobo area of Lagos, took away her daughter, a seven-year-old girl as she threatened to kill the girl on Monday.
Ochemba, an Imo State indigene, shocked her neighbours after she smashed a wood on the girl’s head, inflicting an injury that covered the child in blood, after accusing her of losing a N100 slippers she had bought for her the previous day.
One of her neighbours, Mr. Busari Tajudeen, said he was forced to intervene when Ochemba angrily grabbed the girl by the neck and hit her with a piece of wood.
Tajudeen promptly dragged the girl away from her and took the child to the Ayobo Police Division where a policewoman rushed her to the hospital for treatment.
The girl was later treated and kept at the police station afterwards but the mother was nowhere to be found.
Saturday Punch learnt that Ochemba made no attempt to look for the girl but instead, dressed up that day and went to her overnight work.
The following day when the police went after the woman, she fought the police inspector who had gone to arrest her, threatening that nobody dared to take her child away from her.
Ochemba, who has three children (living with their grandmother in the village) by her first husband and another three (aged seven, five and seven months old) by her current husband, explained that anger pushed her to deal the girl such a deadly blow.
She told a Punch correspondent who met her at the Ayobo Police Division that she was simply angry and did not know what came over her at the time.
But neighbours said she regularly beat the children brutally.
“Everybody was careful not to intervene in her matters because she is very troublesome. She beats her children brutally all the time. She even beats the six-month-old child she is nursing in a way that shock neighbours.
But when she hit the seven-year-old in the head and blood gushed out, I just could not take it anymore. If anything happened, people would ask why we did nothing,”Tajudeen said.
But Ochemba explained that her anger was a result of frustration.
“I am always suffering because of these children. Their father is in jail now. This is his fifth time in the Kirikiri Prison,” she said.
Ochemba told our correspondent that before her husband went to jail, he was an Indian hemp vendor.
She said, “I have not been able to send the children to school since he went to jail eight months ago. At least he was able to send the children to school through the money he was making selling Indian hemp.
“I was angry when I beat my daughter because it is because of the children I am suffering so much. It was after I broke her head that I realised I was too harsh. I did not intend to beat them.”
Ochemba’s neighbours said anytime she went off to work overnight, she locked the children up in her room all by themselves.
“My neighbours are bad people. None of them can look after my children while I go to work, that is why I lock them in the house,” she said.
On Wednesday, officials of the Jeshabel Touch-A-Heart Foundation, along with the police, took Ochemba and her children to the children’s department of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation of the Lagos State Government.
The children were promptly taken away from her temporarily as she wept and pleaded.
Saturday Punch learnt that the children have now been sheltered at one of the ministry’s children’s homes in the state pending a decision on what should be done to their mother.
Founder and coordinator of the Jeshabel Touch-a-Heart Foundation, Mrs. Favour Benson, said the state government had decided not to charge Ochemba to court.
“Right now, the welfare of the children is what the officials are still focusing on. This is where The Lagos State Government should be applauded. The children have been put in the home where they would also be enrolled in a proper school. Their mother has been instructed to put her life in order,” Benson said.