THE chaining of Korede Taiwo, the nine-year-old son of a Beninoise “pastor” rescued by civil defence officials last week was an extreme case of parental cruelty. The unfortunate boy had been chained to a spot and mostly starved by his father, Francis Taiwo, for over one month before a concerned neighbour who saw him chained and padlocked to a huge log of wood in his father’s church alerted security agents. The church was identified as Celestial Church of Christ, Key of Joy Parish, Ajiwo, in Ajibawo in Ado Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State.
The boy’s emaciated frame and his inability to speak on account of weakness when he was rescued, revealed that he had also been denied food. Reports say he had been chained from the neck to his hands and feet, and left in a room for a month.
Korede’s stepmother, Kehinde Taiwo, said that he was being punished by his father for stealing from the soup pot, while his dad said he was possessed by a “stealing spirit.”
What manner of parenting is this? It is scandalous that some parents resort to such extreme measures in the training of their children. Such maltreatment of children should not be allowed in any decent society.
The young boy’s life was, indeed, at great risk and it is doubtful he would have survived the ordeal had he not been rescued by the security agents. The boy reportedly begged not to be taken back to his parents and it is good that the Ogun State First Lady, Mrs. Olufunso Amosun, has volunteered to take care of him.
All is well that ends well. We commend the caring neighbour who saw the distressed boy and mustered the courage to report his plight to the civil defence corps. We also commend the civil defence personnel for rescuing him. It is encouraging that the police have ordered an investigation of this case.
We enjoin them to be thorough in their investigation and ensure that Korede’s tormentors are brought to justice.
This is the only way to send a message to the public that such child abuse will not be tolerated in the country.
What we find truly disturbing is that the Korede Taiwo case is not an isolated one in the country. Reports nationwide indicate widespread maltreatment of children by their parents and guardians. Children are traded, trafficked and subjected to all manner of ill-treatment under the guise of parental training. The law enforcement agencies should prosecute Korede Taiwo’s parents if only to make the people know that there is a difference between child correction, child abuse and cruelty. And, that the abuse of children can land their parents in the law courts.
It is regrettable that many Nigerians are ignorant of the various legislations designed for the protection of children in the country. These laws include the Child Rights Act of 2011 and the Offences Against the Person Act. In any case, Section 34(1) (a) of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution is emphatic that no person “shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment.”
We urge Nigerians to be vigilant and sensitive to the treatment of children. Children are so vulnerable and our cultural antecedents tend to blind us to child abuse, except in extreme cases. We urge the Ministries of Women Affairs and the Social Welfare departments to wake up and sensitise Nigerians to the need to protect our children.