A 37-year-old man, Leo Columbus, was on Wednesday paraded by the Cross River State Police Command for setting ablaze his three-year-old niece, identified simply as Destiny.
It was gathered that the suspect set fire on his niece because she allegedly defecated in a neighbour’s house in the Akamkpa Local Government Area of the state.
Columbus told PUNCH Metro that he did not intend to kill Destiny, but only acted out of anger.
He was paraded alongside 49 other crime suspects by the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Hafiz Inuwa.
Columbus said he started taking care of the child, who is his brother’s daughter, two years ago.
He said his neighbours had been complaining that the little girl, whose parents are in Lagos, was always defecating in their houses.
He said, “People have been complaining and I have been ignoring it until that day. Someone reported to me that she had defecated in their place again. With the annoyance that she defecated on someone’s pumpkin and water leaf, I beat her up.”
Columbus, who added that at the time he was burning some grasses, said in anger, he threw the burning grasses on her, which severely burnt part of her body.
“When I saw that she was burnt, I became remorseful and bought drugs and gave to her. I did not plan to kill her. She is my brother’s daughter. I did it out of annoyance.
“I can’t lock her inside the house, but I always told her to stay in the house and that if she wanted to go to the toilet, she should do it in the house, but she still went out and defecated in neighbour’s houses,” Columbus said.
CP Inuwa said Columbus tied the girl to a guava tree and set her ablaze, adding that he was arrested immediately.
The police commissioner said the victim was rushed to the General Hospital in Akamkpa for treatment and later taken to an orphanage for proper attention.
He told reporters that of the 50 suspects arrested, 20 were arrested for armed robbery, eight for kidnapping, seven for cultism, three for illegal possession of firearms, and two for stealing.
Others suspects paraded were also reportedly picked up for murder, defilement, possession of human skulls, rape, admission scam and receiving of stolen property.
Also recovered from the suspects were seven firearms and a cash sum of N3,200.
Inuwa said the command was determined to deal with any miscreant or group of persons that might want to take the laws into their own hands or dare to intimidate the people of the state.
He called for cooperation and understanding of all in providing useful information that could lead to the arrest of criminals.