At an age when most girls are still burning the midnight candle, in preparation for the senior secondary school examinations, 15-year-old Aishat has become a mother.
Less than two weeks after she had the baby, her mother-in-law and her lover’s siblings forcibly took the baby from her. They also allegedly beat and kicked her out of their home.
Aishat, a Junior Secondary School (JSS3) dropout, didn’t know what to do after she was sent out of her lover’s house and her two weeks’ old baby snatched from her.
She went to call her mother, Adijat, hoping she woman would resolve the issue and retrieve her baby. However, her mother was also thoroughly beaten.
According to Aishat’s mother, life has been too tough and difficult for her to handle after the death of her bricklayer husband. The financial situation was so bad that she and her children now sleep outside in the cold.
According to Adijat, she and her three children sleep in front of a locked up shop at Iyano-Oba.
They took to sleeping there because Adijat, who sells sachet water, could no longer afford to pay house rent, which is N2,000 monthly.
Aishat’s traumatic story started when she was 12 years’ old. She was staying with her maternal grandmother in Ilorin, Kwara State, when she was first defiled.
It was later discovered that Aishat wasn’t the man’s only victim. The man, identified as Taiwo, was later arrested, but she couldn’t tell if he was arraigned or not. She was never called to testify in court.
After her grandmother died, Aishat returned to Lagos, to start assisting her mother to sell water. Then she met Sunday Rowland.
She couldn’t remember the year she met Sunday, but she ran away to stay with him for a week in 2015. This means that Sunday started having sexual intercourse with Aishat when she was less than 13 years’ old. Sunday is a carpenter and sometimes works as bus conductor. He is believed to be 28 years’ old. He lives in a room apartment in his mother’s house at Jakande, Ajagbadi, Okokomaiko.
He told Aishat that he loved her and promised to marry her. She believed him. She disclosed that on the very first day they met, Sunday compelled her to spend the night with him.
She, however, quickly added: “But we didn’t do anything. No sex.”
She said: “Sunday’s mother asked me to bring my parents for introduction. Sunday came with me to see my mother. He told my mother that he was going to marry me. I started staying with him, his mother, sisters and brothers. They are many. They stay in one room, gave Sunday one room and rented out other rooms. I assisted Sunday’s mum in hawking oranges. I became sick. The woman took me to a nurse, who operates in a room apartment. The nurse said I was four months pregnant.
“I thought my mother-in-law liked me, especially since I used to assist her to hawk oranges. But she and others joined hands in beating my mother and I two weeks after I had my baby. They didn’t care that I had just been delivered of a baby. They beat and kicked me out of their house and took my baby.”
Adijat, 36, said Aishat was the oldest among her children. The second child is two and a half years old, while the third is just seven months old. Adijat’s husband died when she was just three months pregnant. She said the man died after a lingering typhoid fever.
She said: “When my husband died, Aishat had to drop out of school. I couldn’t afford school fees. We were living at Iba then, but later forced to leave our apartment because I couldn’t pay the N2,000 monthly rent. We came here to Iyano-Oba to live. We sleep in front of this shop, morning and night, rain or sun.
“My parents are late and my husband’s father is late too. His mother is alive, but very old. I ought to be taking care of her. I’m from Kwara State, but my husband is from Osun State. We refused to return to Osun State after everything fell apart because there’s nothing there for us. How do we survive? Who will take care of us?
“I realised that something was going between Sunday and Aishat when I saw him twice with her. Then, Aishat ran away from home in 2015. I started looking for her and found her in Sunday’s house. I also met his mother. The mother told me that Sunday was going to marry Aishat.”
Last year, Adijat realised that Aishat was looking sickly, she took her for pregnancy test and it was positive. She dragged the girl to Sunday’s mother.
“When I got to their house, they said they knew she was pregnant. That they had already registered her with one nurse operating in a room apartment,” said Adijat. “It was after that discovery that she started living with them.”
Adijat thought that her first daughter was finally settled, thus she could focus on taking care of the other two children, she didn’t know her troubles were just beginning.
She recounted that Aishat was six months pregnant when serpent crept into the otherwise perceived rosy relationship of Aishat and Sunday.
Adijat said: “He stopped giving her food and money. She used to come to meet me for food. Sometimes, even with pregnancy, Aishat would join me in hawking sachet water. If we don’t sell the sachet water, we wouldn’t be able to raise money to buy food. I used to collect the bags of sachet water on credit; it’s only after selling that I would pay the owner.
“Sunday bought a phone of N2,000 for Aishat. She was hungry and had to use the phone in exchange for food. She gave it to a Hausa man and he gave her noodles and some money. Sunday and his family got angry over that. She was pregnant and hungry. What were they expecting her to do? What’s the use of a phone when you’re hungry?”
Adijat said that on the day Aishat went into labour, she was alone in Sunday’s family’s house. She rushed to Iyano-Oba to meet her, confused and worried that she was “urinating on her body.” Immediately, Adijat knew Aishat’s water had broken.
Adijat rushed her to the nurse’s place, but the woman refused to commence treatment. The nurse said that some vital items, needed for baby delivery, had not been bought.
Adijat recounted: “In fact, Sunday and his people had not bought anything. Not a single item. I ran around and raised some money; I bought two baby clothes and a shawl. I gave the nurse N2,000 to commence work. Aishat delivered a baby girl two weeks ago. We took her home to Sunday’s family.”
On the eight day after delivery, they had a christening. A day after the christening, Aishat was kicked out and the baby collected by Sunday’s mother.
Recollecting the drama that led to Sunday’s mum seizing the baby, Aishat said: “At midnight, a day after the christening, the baby was crying, Sunday’s mum woke me; she said I should breastfeed her. I did, but she continued to cry. I told her that I didn’t think that it was hungry that was making the baby cry. She asked what was making the baby cry, I didn’t say anything. The baby was still crying, and then I fell asleep again. In the morning, she asked me to leave. She said Sunday said I should leave and that they should lock his room. She collected the baby from me.
“I went to tell my mother. She took me to Sunday’s mum, when we got there; they started beating me and my mother. It was Sunday’s sister, Iya-Grace, that beat me; I thought she wanted to kill me. My mother was attacked and beaten by a man, along with Sunday’s mum.”
Adijat took over the narration: “They drove Aishat away and collected her baby from her because, according to them, she didn’t breastfeed the baby properly. What does Aishat know about baby and breastfeeding? Is Aishat not a child herself? I went to Ajamgbadi Police Station to report the attack on us and the abduction of the baby. How can anyone take a two weeks’ old baby from its mother? I was given a policewoman at the station.
When we got to Sunday’s house, they almost attacked the policewoman, she left. The following day, I went back to the station, they gave me a policeman, we went back to Sunday’s family, the same thing happened. The third time, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) gave us six policemen, but when we got there, nobody was at home. The place was deserted. We left; no arrest was made.”
Adijat didn’t know what to do next, not until a concerned trader, Mr. Michael Igbokwe, selling in one of the shops got to hear about the alleged maltreatment and abduction.
He took over the matter and started frequently visiting police station on behalf of the widow and her daughter.
Igbokwe said: “I’m the caretaker of this plaza. I noticed that the woman and her children used to sleep outside here every night. I noticed that the little girl’s breasts were unusually large and dripping. I started asking questions. I heard that her mother-in-law collected her two weeks’ old baby and sent her packing. It was annoying.
They knew the mother is poor and uneducated. They took advantage of the little girl. They collected her baby. I don’t like injustice. I took them to police station.
“The family of the man seemed to have gone into hiding; police are looking for them. In fact, the DPO said if anyone has information that could lead to arrest and rescue of the baby; they should come to the police station. Right now, nobody knows what had become of the baby; whether they have sold her. One thing I know, however, if anything happens to that baby, the whole world will hear about it.I can bet you that!”
An Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Mr. Monday Agbonika, formerly working with Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), said that Sunday ought to be arrested and charged to court for defilement, which attracts life imprisonment under the Lagos State government law. Sunday’s mum should be arrested for child labour, for making Aishat to hawk oranges.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Olarinde Famous-Cole, disclosed that Sunday’s mother and the baby are now with the Ojo Police Station, while the DPO is trying to mediate in the matter.
He said: “The case was reported at Ojo Police Station, about a girl that just had a baby. She refused to breastfeed her baby.
The man, who got her pregnant, had no wherewithal to take care of her. The mother-in-law now decided to take care of the child. The lady now raised the alarm that the mother-in-law was trying to take the baby from her.
“The matter was taken to DPO Ojo and he had been trying to mediate and see that them both parties came to an agreement.
But the problem is that these people don’t have the wherewithal to take care of the child. The girl’s mother is not ready to accept the terms and conditions given to her by the DPO. It’s a case of negligence on both sides.”
Famous-Cole added that information available to him was that Aishat and Sunday, failed to take care of the baby, so the mother-in-law took over.
He added: “One of the best ways of handling this issue is to refer them to the government. If they can’t take care of the baby, they should give her to the state; the state will take care of her.”
Our correspondent had also alerted Mrs. Lola Vivour-Adeniyi, Coordinator, Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) of the matter.
In a text message, Vivour-Adeniyi asked that Aishat and her mother be brought to her office.
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