Chioma Okezie-Okeh And Elizabeth Ogunbamowo
She was born innocent like every other child. But for her, fate has served her raw cruel deal all her 14 years of hell on earth life.
This is why Pelumi Olamide believes she was born a child of sorrow and will remain a lost child due to the circumstances of her birth. According to those who know her story, she was born to a couple believed to be mentally unstable. Unfortunately no one could take her away from her parents till both disappeared and left her out in the cold to face the vicissitudes of life all alone. Naturally, like several other homeless children, she survived and as she grew into a beautiful young woman, Pelumi was automatically turned into a sex toy for anyone who could subdue her.
According to her, no one spared her including those whom she looked up to as rich and responsible. What appears to be the first glimpse of hope in her entire life came on Sunday, August 23, when she was rescued by a 60-year-old woman, Ngozi Olumilua, who saw her looking unkempt and dirty in her new home, a dumpsite located at Oduwole Street, Abule Odu in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State.
She took her home after so much resistance by young men believed to have recently taken turns in defiling her. To avoid being accused of child theft, Mrs. Olumilua told Saturday Sun that she reported the matter at Idimu Police Station but was advised to take her to a motherless babies home or return her to the dumpsite.
Scared that she might still end up in the waiting arms of her abusers, Mrs Olumilua took her home and is now calling on Lagos State government to help by ensuring that Pelumi does not return to the dumpsite.
How I found her
Recounting how Pelumi ended up in her house, Mrs. Olumilua told one of Saturday Sun correspondents who visited their home at Egbeda that she was moved by the horrible state that she found her. “I live at Egbeda and I am a member of Winners Chapel church. I am an Evangelist and was on my way back from evangelism with my goddaughter when I bumped into her. When we were coming, I wanted to pass another route that will be shorter for me to take a bike but my goddaughter said we should take another route. She lives in the area so she knows better. As we were going down the road, I was on a phone call; the lady I was walking with tapped me and said that someone was talking to me. I asked her who that could be because we were passing beside a very big dustbin. Then I saw someone who was looking very dirty and tattered, I asked the lady beside me what the girl was saying. She told me that the girl wants me to pray for her. As at then, she looked like a mad person covered with dust, in tattered clothes and stained everywhere. I asked for her name, she told me Pelumi. Then, when I told her to kneel down that I want to pray for her, she started looking around to see if there was anyone watching us and there were people there actually looking at us.”
Mrs. Olumilua said that after praying for her, she gave her money and left but was prompted by her spirit to go and get her. “When I asked Pelumi if she would follow me, she rushed to carry my bag, and hugged me seriously, that she will go with me.” The Good Samaritan said she had gone through a lot of challenges which God helped her scale through and believes that she is still alive to help the less privileged people in the society.
“As soon as Pelumi agreed to follow me, some area boys crowded us and started asking me where I was taking her to. Immediately Pelumi saw those guys, she held on tightly to me. I told the area boys that I want to take her to my house to bath and feed her. They asked me if I will be bringing her back and had to get my contact before I was able to leave. Those guys were more than 10. Pelumi started pointing at them accusing them of raping and sleeping with her, so they left one after the other, until only three guys remained. Those ones asked me to wait so they can call my number and see whether my phone would ring in their presence. Even the motorcyclists we stopped didn’t agree to take her. They mostly sped off.”
She said that as soon as she got a bike to convey her and the young girl to her house, her maid and grandchildren fled at the sight of Pelumi who was still looking tattered and dirty. She said she had to personally bath her to ensure that she washed herself clean. “It is the faith in Christ that motivated me to do that.
“As soon as I bathed her and gave her food and neat clothes, I took her to the Idimu Police Station to explain all that had happened but instead the police officers available there on that Sunday, were not ready to listen to us. They asked me to take her to motherless children’s homes or return her to the dumpsite. I said never will I return her to the dustbin so I asked them to help us with connections to orphanages around. They said I should go and look for them myself. They weren’t even ready to listen to us. I thought we’d be directed to the Gender Unit or something.
“I have eight children and they’re all established. I have 27 grandchildren also,” Mrs. Olumilua told Saturday Sun. She said what she needs right now is for the Lagos State government to take over the case of the young girl and ensure she’s in the right hands never to go back to the dustbin again.
She said she had to go back to the dustbin where she picked her to make some investigations as regarding the girl’s parents or probably any close relative and met one Honourable Hamzat who informed her that Pelumi was born of a mad woman and had no family around.
She said she had to run some tests on the young girl to know her health status especially with the prevailing illnesses in the society today. Surprisingly, she tested negative to the major tests conducted at a government hospital.
“The women in the area told us that they do see the girl in the open space being molested by the area boys in the area.”
A life of abuse and violation
All smiles and excited when she was asked if she could speak English, Pelumi said: “English, I speak it very well. I am happy, God bless mummy. She food and meat plenty.”
However, with the aid of an interpreter, she was able to recount some of her experiences while staying at the dump site at Abule-Odo. “I am 14 years old. I’ve been living at Abule Odu since I was a baby. All the area boys living close to that place do sleep with me but three of them are consistent with it. Their names are: Indomie, Shinkoekun, and Ibro. They do come to sleep with me every single day. They don’t come together but they come one after the other to molest me. Indomie even harmed me with knife the night prior to the day mummy (Mrs. Olumilua) came. He said he wanted to sleep with me but I didn’t want him to, so he injured me and out of fear, I had to allow him.”
Pelumi said that the guys who molest her have never used protection rather; they do have raw sex with her. The young girl claims to be pregnant even though the test result states otherwise. “I am pregnant. Those guys told me I’m pregnant. I’ve never given birth to a child before.”
When Saturday Sun asked her of her parents’ whereabouts, she said that her father is already late and her mother, who is mentally deranged, is nowhere to be found.
Asked if she had ever had the opportunity to speak with law enforcement agents concerning the sexual molestation, she said she once reported to police officers who raided the area where she stayed. But when she complained to them that the guy nicknamed Indomie had impregnated her, she was told to go back to wherever she came from. “They sent me away like a dog. There is a house nearby where I stayed. They fix batteries in the house. The owner of that house is a rich man. He slept with me in a container and sent me away. He didn’t give me any money.”
Pelumi said she was feeding off one Iya Maria, a food vendor in the area, who feeds her three times daily.
She also told Saturday Sun that she has a father whose name is Satimama while her mother is Fatima. Satimama, according to Pelumi, is a carpenter who also lives around Abule Odu. She said she also has an elder sister whose name is Tosin.
“I want to go to school; I will learn how to write letters of the alphabet. I’ve never been to school before but I want to start going now. Please do not send me away. I am very happy here,” she pleaded.
She claimed that the mark on her left hand is a sign of initiation given to her by Indomie who told her that he had used her for money rituals.
Meanwhile, Mrs Olumilua’s children raising concern over the safety of their mother and family members, pleaded with the state government and police to come and take her to a home where she will be well taken care of. “I understand my mother’s wish to rescue her from that dumpsite but the truth is that she could be mentally unstable. She can wake up tomorrow and stab someone or even our mother.”
Community leaders offer clue
The President, Alimosho Youths Development Association (AYDA), Comrade Lateef Ogungbade, who paid a visit to the house, said that the core aim of the group is to contribute their quota voluntarily to youth development and community development. “What we stand for is that every Nigerian living in Alimosho should have equal rights.”
He pledged that the group will do all within its power to protect Mrs. Olumilua from greedy public officers who might want to use her good intentions against her.
Also speaking with Saturday Sun, Honourable Hamzat Adewale, Head of Operations, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, who said he’s very popular in the area where the girl was staying before, said that he knows her mother to be a mentally deranged woman who lives in a market with her lover, also a mad man. He said that Pelumi’s mother is nonviolent and only begs for money.
“Her mother’s lover is Satimama but his real name is Taiye and Pelumi’s mother also is called Taiye. When the market was given to a developer, they chased Satimama and Pelumi’s mother away and the lovers moved to a place called Mechanic Village. Satimama is not her father but he lives with Pelumi’s mother and Pelumi together.”
He said that he learnt recently that a man had come to the area some time ago claiming to be the younger brother to Pelumi’s late dad, he was beaten and battered by the young men in the area who accused him of attempting to kidnap the girl. “I didn’t know about that before now. I had to ask questions before someone told me about that. I know the office I could call to help her but sincerely my mind has never gone there before. It was not until Mrs. Olumilua came around that it dawned on me. “
Hamzat said he was surprised that the guys have been doing this after he had warned them several times not to commit atrocity in the area. He added that he heard from some persons that it is possible that Pelumi has younger ones.
Ray of hope
Still determined to get help for Pelumi, Mrs Olumilua went back to Idimu Police Station on Wednesday and this time around , the Divisional Crime Officer was on ground to receive them. He apologized to them and promised to caution the officers who failed to do the right thing. He asked them to return on Monday for an official handover of the girl to the police. “He told us that the matter will be handed over to the gender section of the Lagos State Police Command. He also assured us that there is an orphanage on ground that will accept Pelumi. He apologized to us that it was mistake on the part of the policeman who attended to us the first time that we reported the case”, she told Saturday Sun on Thursday.