The Lagos State Police Command has arrested a fashion designer, Bisi Olukayode, for allegedly torturing her maid, Anjuah Sunday, aka Titi, at her residence in the Lekki area of the state.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Sunday had been living with the suspect at her residence in Lekki Gardens Estate Phase 3, for two years.
The Togolese, who arrived in Lagos with her grandmother, was allegedly renamed Titi and handed over to the Olukayodes by an agent.
It was alleged that Bisi tortured the 14-year-old with sticks, wire and canes, during which the victim sustained injuries in different parts of her body.
Bisi allegedly usually locked up Sunday in a toilet anytime she (Bisi) was going out.
Some residents, whom the victim reportedly begged for food through the window of the toilet, alerted officials of the Office of the Public Defender.
A social worker at the OPD told our correspondent that the agency visited the estate on Tuesday with a view to rescuing the victim.
She said the officials first reported at the Adeniji Adele Police Station and got police back up for the operation.
“We got there around 10am. The estate security guards cooperated with us after we told them our mission. We, however, discovered that the suspect’s house was locked; though we suspected that the woman and the girl were inside the house. We called her telephone number and told her we had come to see her about the girl. She immediately switched off the phone and refused to talk.
“We didn’t leave until around 3pm because we learnt that the husband usually brought the children from school around that time. When we didn’t see him, we called him as well, but his phone rang out,” she added.
She noted that while the rescue team was leaving the estate, the security men were asked not to allow the couple sneak out with the maid.
Around 7pm, the suspect’s husband was said to have returned into the estate with the children in a cab.
The husband reportedly asked the cab driver to switch off the vehicle’s inner light, as he took their three children into the house.
PUNCH Metro gathered that when it was dark, the man and Sunday entered the cab.
The cab driver was about to leave the estate when he was reportedly stopped by a mobile policeman, who demanded the identity of the cab passenger.
“The policeman usually complements the security guards on the estate. He asked him if he was Mr. Olukayode, but he said no. The cop asked him three times, but he denied. A female guard checked the cab and identified him as the man they were looking for.
“At that point, the policeman asked him to step out of the cab. That was when they saw that he was sitting on the girl in the cab. The man was arrested and detained. The girl was rescued, and we were informed around 10pm,” the OPD source added.
The victim, Sunday, said she got beaten most times for eating the food in the kitchen.
She said, “Sometimes, they don’t give me food for a whole day. There are times they give me food without water. Other times, they will not give me food, but ask me to take a bowl of water as food. Whenever she is going out, she locks me up in the toilet and blocks the door with a big object.
“Sometimes when I am starving, I enter the kitchen to steal food. I got beaten many times because of this. Sometimes when I see that she has kept money on the table, like N50, N100, I will keep it. When she has gone out, and I see people passing, I will beg them to buy me snacks and soft drinks. Sometimes, she will eat oranges and give me the peels to eat as food.”
The victim said when the OPD officials attempted to enter the house, the suspect locked all the doors and begged her for forgiveness.
“She said I should sit quietly in a place. When her phones rang continuously, she switched them off. It was that afternoon that she made my hair and asked me to take my bath.
“She knelt in front of me and asked me to forgive her. I told her to stand up that I had forgiven her. She then asked me to follow her husband out that he would take me to a church for prayers. She gave me two wraps of fufu and a tin of ketchup to eat it, with a bottle of water.
“Her husband went out in the morning with his car, but brought a cab to take me. As he was taking me out of the estate, he asked me to lie down on the chair and sat on me. A woman on the estate rescued me,” she added.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the couple were arrested and transferred to the gender unit of the Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja.
Our correspondent gathered that the man was, however, released over his ill health.
A source said he would not be prosecuted because he had “kidney and liver failure.”
“Ordinarily, he was supposed to be prosecuted for obstruction of justice and abduction, but the major focus is the woman who abused the girl,” the source added.
The Director of the OPD, Mrs. Olubukola Salami, said the state government would leave no stone unturned in the fight against child labour and abuse.
She said, “The OPD decries the high rate of child trafficking for cheap labour in the country. The government will leave no stone unturned to curb this menace. As we fight against child abuse, we are pleased to know that residents are joining us in the fight and becoming mandatory reporters.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Chike Oti, confirmed the incident.
He said there were visible marks of flogging on the vicitim to show she was abused.
“The woman was reported by good Nigerians who had seen how she locked up the girl in the kitchen from morning till night even after overworking her. She has been charged to court,” he added.