Linus Oota, Lafia
It was a classic case of misplaced aggression, of taking the ‘sins’ of the mother out on her innocent son. And, on a four-year-old child, for that matter, who knows next to nothing! And, to imagine that she saw the warning sign early enough but did nothing to save her poor son from the fate that later befell him? That thought is threatening to drown her traumatised mother’s spirit in further despondency.
It must have made a shocking read when the news of the gruesome murder of four-year-old Ritse Micah was broken in Saturday Sun edition of July 13, 2019. The lad, reportedly taken from his sleep on the night of Thursday, June 27, 2019, at Garagu, Kokona Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, was dumped, with his legs and hands tied, into a well in Akwanga Local Government Area of the state. That was the state in which his body was found the following day.
Now, here is more shocking news for the reader: written confession by Mrs Grace Jacob Maisamari, stepmother to the late boy’s mother, has shown that she was the one that masterminded the evil act. And, she did that not because there was anything amiss between him and the boy but simply because there was no love lost between her and his mother. Never has misplaced anger come couched in such heartless act!
How the evil deed was done
The late Ritse is the son of the daughter of the first wife to her husband, Micah Kapechi. She died many years ago after having two children for the man. Her second daughter, Miracle Micah, is the mother of the late boy said to be a love child.
It was after the death of their mother that their father decided to marry Grace who is now cooling her feet at the criminal investigation department of the Nigerian Police headquarters in Lafia after admitting complicity in the death of the boy.
That was after devilish ideas began to fly into her head on how to cause heartbreak and maximum sorrow for his mother with whom she is in no good terms. She confessed that on that fateful day, she had pretended to travel very early to Garaku from Akwanga without her husband’s knowledge or consent but she actually hid somewhere till evening. And when she noticed her husband go out with the boy to deliver a message, she quietly used her own key to open the house without anybody noticing her presence and hid somewhere in the room he usually sleeps.
Shortly afterward, her husband walked in and prepared him for sleep. But when she noticed that he had gone to his room to sleep, she quickly came out of her hiding, grabbed the boy who was deep asleep and headed to Akwanga that night, by a pre-arranged vehicle.
In Akwanga, she tied his legs and hands and threw him alive into a deep well where he died from hypoxemia. What was his offence? The woman confessed that she had no problem with Ritse. He is innocent, she admits, but her grudge is with his mother who has been rude to her since she got married to her father. “I decided to kill the innocent boy due to the attitude of his mother,” she said.
Self-justification and guilt over the murder
However, after carrying out the deed, her heartless ego came under constant haunt of guilt. Her words: “After killing the boy, it dawned on me that I took the matter too far. I was restless but my anger against his mother’s attitude could not stop it from happening. Initially, I felt fulfilled and normal. I slept that night after the incident but the consequence of my action became clear after I was picked up by the police. I felt cold for the first time.”
Destiny appears to have played a wicked one on me at the early stage, she insists, “but I would rededicate the rest of my life to sincerely seek forgiveness. I don’t know what came over me but the mother of this boy is the major problem in my marriage. She has stolen my joy since I got married to her father, it has been from one problem to another,” she lamented. But she would not go into detail on the nature of the so-called “major problem in her marriage” caused by the boy’s mother that could have warranted or justified her to carry out the evil act.
When our correspondent spoke with Miracle, the mother of the late Ritse who have just finished her examinations at the state university in Keffi, he found her inconsolable over her son’s death. According to her, she felt that something bad had happened when she started having some strange feelings she couldn’t explain. “I was in school,” she said. “My heart was beating. It wasn’t okay with my spirit. So after my exams, I put a call to my father. On picking the call, we exchange greetings and he said we need to talk and he cut the call. After a short while, I called back and he said it was not something we can discuss on phone. He said I should come home. So I prepared and came down to Garaku from Keffi where I am schooling. On getting to my father’s house, some neighbours’ children welcomed me with the sad news of the death of my son.”
The 300 level Sociology student said she could not hold back tears. For several hours, she wept while raining curses on whoever killed her innocent and promising son. “My son doesn’t deserve such brutality at the age of 4,” she said as she broke into tears again. “He is too innocent for any right thinking person to tie his legs and hands and dump him in the well till he died.” She eventually resigned herself to fate. “I leave everything to God,” she said. “That person will never see peace in his or her life.”
The early warning signs ignored
For the traumatised woman, the warning sign had been there all along, it’s unfortunate that she did not pay any attention until it was too late. She reported that her stepmother’s plan to get rid of her child started a long time ago. She recalled an incident that occurred last year in which her late son suddenly got missing from the house. But he was later found by a riverbank and returned home by a farmer the following morning.
She recalled how it all happened: “I went to buy some things for his school and he asked me to buy him bobo drink. But on getting home, he was nowhere to be found. We searched all around but to no avail, so we resigned ourselves to fate that night. We later reported the case to the police. But thank God, the following morning the boy was found at a river bank by a good farmer and brought back home.”
She said that few days after, her late son told her that it was her stepmother (Grace) that took him to the riverside and threw him there to die. “When my father came back from work, I told him, but he said it was a weighty allegation, adding that he didn’t want any trouble. He asked me to keep mute over the issue. But I told my brother about it.”
From all indications the issue that generated mutual hatred between the boy’s mother and the killer stepmother as to lead to the innocent child’s death, appears to be a longstanding one. “My mother died in 2002 and my father married my stepmother in 2004,” she said. “But since she came, we have no peace in this house. She chased away all my father’s friends and relations. In this area, she is at war with everybody. He chased away all tenants from our house.”
In as much as Miracle finds her stepmother’s heartless act surprising and unbelievable, she regrets not doing something to save the situation when she perceived the early warning signs. Ruminating on Grace’s character and on incident, she said: “there was never a good testimony about her. At a point, I wanted to take my son somewhere to school but my father prevailed on me to leave the boy here. I wanted to take him away because anytime I came home from school, neighbours would tell me about the maltreatments she subjects my son to. Severally, I complained to my father but he loves his wife and equally loves my late son. Therefore there was nothing I could do. He doesn’t want his grandson taken away from him. He always said he doesn’t want the boy to stay away. But now the evil person has taken him away and killed him.”