•••My husband is in jail for fifth time, she laments
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 our correspondent who met her at the Ayobo Police Division
that she was simply angry and did not know what came over her at the
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
"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
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.