A seven-year-old girl, Mazichukwu, is battling with burns allegedly inflicted on her by her aunt, whom she lives with on Josiah Aina Street, Alakuko, Lagos State.
The aunt, Mrs Loveth Ozoihu, reportedly punished the girl by beating her with a hot knife for allegedly stealing chewing gum belonging to their neighbour’s child.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Ozoihu, a trader, had sent Mazichukwu to give the neighbour the change for the goods she bought from her.
The girl reportedly met the woman’s kid holding the candy and collected it from her.
She was said to have returned home, chewing the gum, which she confessed to have collected from the neighbour’s kid when her aunt asked her where she got it from.
Enraged by Mazichukwu’s conduct, Ozoihu reportedly lit a gas cooker at midnight and put a knife on the burner.
She reportedly placed the hot knife on the girl’s buttocks, leaving her to groan with pains.
It was learnt that the Enugu State indigene later took the girl to a chemist’s shop, where a substance was applied to the injury.
A good Samaritan, who got wind of the assault, reported the case to the police at the Alakuko Division and Ozoihu was arrested.
In her statement to the police, the 25-year-old suspect denied assaulting the girl, but claimed that Mazichukwu mistakenly sat on the burner.
She said, “I sent her to our neighbour to give her change for what the woman bought. When she got there, the woman’s child started crying. When she came back, I asked her what she did to the child but she did not answer.
“I asked her where she got the chewing gum in her mouth from. She said she stole it from the child. I beat her with a cane and not a hot knife. She mistakenly sat on the burner by herself. There was also a day she stole my fish and I beat her.”
But Mazichukwu faulted her aunt’s claim before the police, insisting that the woman inflicted the burns on her buttocks.
“My aunt punished me for collecting chewing gum from our neighbour’s daughter. She put on the gas cooker and put a knife on it. When it was hot, she used it to beat my buttocks. The day I stole her fish, she beat me with a wire and gave me a mark on the face,” she said.
A neighbour of the suspect, who wants his identity protected, said Ozoihu had subjected the little girl to assault on several occasions.
He said he once called the attention of her husband to the abuse and asked him to prevail on his wife.
“The husband insulted me and asked me to mind my own business. She doesn’t give the girl food regularly yet she would wake her up very early in the morning to wash clothes,” the resident added.
Ozoihu was subsequently arraigned before an Ogba Magistrates’ Court on one count of assault occasioning harm.
The police prosecutor, Inspector Ben Emuerhi, told the court that the offence was in contravention of Section 173 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
The charge read in part, “That you, Loveth Ozoihu, on February 2, 2019, around 2.30am, on Josiah Aina Street, Alakuko, Lagos, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did assault Mazichukwu, aged seven, by beating her up and using a hot knife from a gas cooker’s burner to burn her buttocks.”
The defendant pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to her and she elected summary trial.
The presiding magistrate, Mrs Olufunke Sule-Hamzat, granted her bail in the sum of N200,000 with two sureties in the like sum.
The case was adjourned till March 7, 2019, for mention.