A 10-year-old boy, identified as Chimobi, has been taken into protective custody by the Lagos State Government after his brother’s wife, Gift Igwe, allegedly set him ablaze at their home on Adenugba Street, Agunfoye, Ikorodu.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the offence of the Ishielu, Ebonyi State indigene, was that he misplaced his trousers and could not produce them when Gift demanded them from him.
Residents of the community, who heard the cry of the victim, put out the fire, during which he reportedly passed out.
Chimobi was subsequently rushed to the Ikorodu General Hospital, Ikorodu.
Policemen from the Igbogbo division were said to have arrested the suspect.
It was learnt that officials of the Office of the Public Defender, who had been monitoring the treatment of Chimobi, took him into custody.
A source told PUNCH Metro that the child was brought to Lagos in 2016 by the brother to start living with his family.
He said since then, Gift had been abusing Chimobi, adding that matter came to a head when she set him ablaze that Wednesday.
He said, “He is the younger brother of the man, who is a security guard in a firm. He was not enrolled in any school after he was brought from the village. The brother wanted him to be assisting the wife, who had a baby about a year ago, with house chores and other things.
“The woman has been abusing him for some time now. There are marks of past floggings on his body. He also has sores.
“People in the community could no longer keep quiet when the last incident happened on Wednesday, September 6. She poured kerosene on the boy and lit him with a matchstick.”
Chimobi, who spoke with our correspondent on Saturday, said he had some education before he was brought to Lagos from Ebonyi.
He explained that his brother and his wife had refused to enroll him in a school since he started living with them.
“I misplaced my trousers and ‘mummy’ (sister-in-law) poured kerosene on me and used a matchstick to light fire. People came to help me. I have not been going to school since they brought me from the village,” he said.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Olarinde Famous-Cole, confirmed the incident.
He noted that Gift had been granted bail because of her child, saying she was mandated to be reporting at the police station daily.
He said, “We gathered that the boy was accused of misplacing something and because of that, she got kerosene and set him ablaze. Some Good Samaritans put out the fire. The boy is recuperating.
“When our attention was called to the case, we ensured the prompt treatment of the boy at the Ikorodu General Hospital. We also involved other government agencies, including a human right group working with the police in that area. The suspect was arrested and interrogated.
“She is a nursing mother; she has a child that is less than two years old. She has been admitted to bail with instruction to be reporting daily to the Investigating Police Officer and the Office of the Public Defender, pending the conclusion of investigation.”
The Director of the OPD, Mrs. Olubukola Salami, said the victim had been taken into protective custody.
She said, “This is a case of assault occasioning grievous bodily harm and also an abuse of the child. The Government of Lagos state is poised to putting an end to all forms of domestic violence and child abuse. The OPD has been mandated to ensure that justice is done and the perpetrator brought to book for this barbaric act.”