…victim has grown long nails, bushy hair, body covered with scars

Juliana Francis

Members of the Advocates for Children and Vulnerable Persons Network (ACVPN), working with the Nigeria Police Force in Lagos State, have rescued a 17-year-old boy from servitude.

ACVPN members, Comrade Okanlawon Toyin and Ifeoma, followed up on the case and narrated that the boy had been locked up for eight months, where he was sewing for his boss.

When he was rescued, they noticed that his nails and hair had grown too long, he looked emaciated and his body was covered with scars.

Our reporter gathered that the boy, identified as Chinmemere was given to a trusted woman by his mother, who believed that her son would be enrolled in a school.

The woman, in turn, handed the boy to Mr Raphael Ezenwu, who also promised to enrol the boy in school, but failed to do so. Rather, he allegedly started using the boy for labour, while his children were going to school.

Comrade Toyin, who described the boy’s situation as a classic case of trafficking for child labour, said: “My colleague Ifeoma and I moved to Shomolu to incident the case at Alade division.

“On arrival, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) was on official duty, so the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) took a proactive step, directed officers on duty to go invite the perpetrator and the 17 years old boy Chinmemere who hails from Enugu State, that was being maltreated and locked up in a room for eight months.

“On getting to the address at Shomolu, the police moved in and saw Mr Raphael Ezenwu, the guardian and perpetrator. On opening the door the perpetrator led the police to another room in the apartment where the boy was seen sewing clothes. He looked unkempt with busy hair and long nails.

“The officers moved them to the station for proper investigation. At the station, the DCO separated the boy from his boss for questioning. The boy was asked how many times he ate daily, and he claimed thrice, which is doubtful because he looked pale and emaciated and his veins were showing.

“His back was checked and scars were visibly seen on him, his bones were visibly showing like an apartheid victim.

“The DPO arrived to investigate more on the case, in the course of his further investigation, he realised the boy had a case at the station last year but the IPO then couldn’t recognise the boy on time because he had become a shadow of himself.

“The IPO shed more light that the victim was reported at the station sometime in 2023 that he stole and sold the head of a sewing machine, though the machine was recovered and the perpetrator was instructed to return the boy to his mother in the village in Enugu State.”

The boy was taken in 2000.

According to Toyin, the boy’s boss, his children Chinowa, Munachi, Chinozie, and Osinachi with his wife Chiamaka been well taken care of.

It was also learned that Chinmemere had once told his boss that he wished to be returned to the village, his boss promised but failed to fulfil his promise.

Chinmemere said they were two serving as child labourers before, a minor girl was also used for such labour work, but the girl has returned to Enugu State.

“The DPO of Alade Division has ordered the perpetrator to arrange for the return of the victim to his mother in Enugu State or face the hammer of the law. Meanwhile, the suspect has since been detained.”

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