A 32-year-old woman, Comfort Essie, has been arrested by the Lagos State Police Command for allegedly battering her nine-year-old niece, Queendaline Phillips, in the Ijesha area of the state.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Essie, who hails from Ikot-Ekpene in Akwa Ibom State, allegedly inflicted injuries on the nine-year-old when she ate out of a plate of soup which the woman had reportedly kept in the house.
The plate of soup was said to have been brought by a neighbour.
Our correspondent gathered that the incident, which occurred on Thursday, January 14, 2016, was reported at the FESTAC Police Division.
Our correspondent learnt that the class teacher of Phillips, who is in Primary 1 in a community school, had noticed that the girl was quiet and complained of pains in the class.
The teacher reportedly inquired from the girl, and she explained that her buttocks had peeled from the alleged torture from her aunt.
It was learnt that the teacher thereafter reported the matter to the school authorities, which in turn informed the police, and Essie was arrested.
Our correspondent gathered that officials of the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation had provided a temporary shelter for Phillips and she was being given medical treatment.
Speaking with PUNCH Metro, Essie, a mother of one who worked as a nanny, said she asked Phillips five times if she ate out of the Afam soup brought by her neighbour, and the girl insisted that she did not, which infuriated her (Essie).
She said, “Queen (Phillips) is the daughter of my elder brother. I brought her to help me because I have a small boy. On Wednesday, a neighbour in my estate in Ijesha gave me Afam soup. It is not everyone who gives me food that I collect and eat.
“I moved into the house in September 2015 and I had been very careful. The woman made an Afam soup and she was a friend actually. But Queen, my boy and I just finished eating around 5pm and I was taking my son out when the woman brought the soup.
“I was going to take him to the barber’s. So, I asked Queen to bring a plate so we could keep the soup. I did not want to collect it, but for the insistence of the woman. When I returned, the girl was asleep and everyone had gone to bed.
“In the morning, I wanted to throw the soup away. That was when I found out the soup had been partly eaten. When I confronted Queen, she denied eating the soup. The girl lies a lot. If she had told me the truth, I would not beat her.
“I asked her the question five times. She denied. I knew my son’s hands could not reach the table where she put the soup. I did not beat her because I hated her. If that soup contained poison, and she ate it and died, I would still go to jail for it. So I angrily took a club used for stirring amala, and I beat her bum bum. She was wearing a wrapper. When the wrapper fell off, I continued beating her bum bum. But I meant good for her. She will get married some day.”
Phillips, however, told PUNCH Metro that she did not eat from the soup, but she was battered because she failed to clean the room.
She said, “When my aunty (Essie) was going out, she gave me money to buy water and clean the house. But I did not see water to buy. When she came back, she started to beat me up. The people in the house asked her to leave me, she did not answer them. I did not eat from the soup. It was kept where she asked me to keep it.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations, SP Dolapo Badmos, had yet to reply to a text message sent to her phone on the incident.