Mercy Azuka, Port Harcourt
Patience Richard, a mother of five, is now stranded with the fresh corpse of her three-year-old step-daughter, Chimanya, at a hospital in Port Harcourt , Rivers State .
The step-mother has been accused of beating the child to death.
Nigeria Newspoint ran into the scene at the Braithwaite Memorial Hospital (BMH), Port Harcourt , where nurses and doctors pressed Patience to say all she knows about Chimanya’s death. The incident took place last weekend.
Patience, a local food seller, sat by late Chimanya’s corpse at the children emergency room, BMH, where gave different accounts of how her stepdaughter died. Reluctant at first, the step-mother however opened up, saying she only scolded the child defecating inside her pot of soup. She said she had to rush her to the hospital when she noticed that Chimanya was jerking and later became unconscious.
She stated: “I came back from the market where I went to buy what I will use in cooking because I sell food in the evenings. Before I left, I made new soup and didn’t bother to eat because I was hurrying off to the market. I came back to meet the house littered with faeces as is the case with Chimanya. I was angry and asked her why she would defecate inside the pot. Before I knew what was happening, she was already outside wailing on top of her voice saying that I did not allow her play with other children, that I was always locking her inside. I asked her to stop shouting and get back to the house and that I was going to leave her the way she was so that her father would meet her like that. I left her to clean the house and before I came back, she was jerking on the floor. I immediately took her to our nearby church (did not name the church). Our pastor prayed for her and poured sachet water on her before I now brought her to the hospital with my pastor’s wife.”
She said they were late to hospital because of difficulty getting a taxi cab. “While we were trying to get a card for her, we noticed that she was no longer breathing. I swear I did not touch (beat) her at all, I swear,” she said.
Patience, who refused to disclose her residence at the railway line, said that the child had been a very troubled one from childhood. She claimed to have given late Chimanya the best attention because no one wanted to associate with her because of her strange behaviours.
On her relationship with the dead child, Patience said: “I married the father because my own husband is late. We live at Railway with my five children from my first husband. This child has always been sick since the mother gave birth to her and abandoned her with the father. Ever since I started taking care of her, it has been one sickness to the other. Her body was always swelling like someone that was beaten and sick”.
Before the suspect married her father last year September, she said she was already helping the man to take care of the child for four months until she was delivered of the swelling. “I suffered myself on her behalf because I was taking her from one hospital to the church for prayers as she was said to be suffering from a demonic spirit. She never behaved normally like other children would. This was why she wasn’t allowed to stay in school as she was always defecating uncontrollably and purposely”.
Despite her spirited efforts to clean her hands, inmates at the Children’s Emergency Room who were present when the event happened insisted she beat the girl to her death because she was not her biological mother. A Chief Nursing Officer (CNR) 2 of the Children Emergency Room said that she was not there when Patience and the child came in but that what the nurses on morning duty reported was that the child was brought in dead.
She also said that she witnessed one of the pediatric doctors telling Patience that the marks on the baby’s body were signs of battering which she suspects could be the reason for her death. “The doctor threatened to perform X-ray examinations on the child which will show that she died as a result of consistent beating, but Patience kept denying hitting her. Also, when she was asked her address, her husband’s name and if anyone could authenticate her story, she became unsteady in her utterances. Everything she told you is false” She finished. Another nurse corroborated the account, but the doctors kept mum.
The father of the child could not be reached before filing the story. Efforts were being made to hand over the case to the police.