A mother, who used her four-year-old daughter to offset a debt of N100, has been invited by the Ebonyi State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Ministry for questioning. The woman, Veronica Igwe, gave Uloma to Josephine Nwali after she couldn’t pay a debt of N100.
It was learnt that the transaction between Veronica and Nwali took place at an Abakaliki Rice Mill. Veronica was said to have told officials of the ministry that she took the drastic decision to hand Uloma to Nwali when the heat from the woman was becoming unbearable.
When Veronica offered her daughter to Nwali in place of the money, she accepted. Nwali then took Uloma to her house at CAS Campus, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, where she had been for nine months before officials of the ministry got wind of the incident and went after her.
The bubble burst when Uloma became seriously sick, developing a swollen stomach. A resident of the area contacted the ministry which made the officials to storm Nwali’s house and rescued the girl. The ministry is currently making preparations to take Uloma to a hospital for medical treatment.
Nwali was summoned by the ministry and handed over to the police. Mrs. Elom Cecilia, who is in charge of child maltreatment at the ministry, confirmed the incident.
She said: “It’s a child abuse and exploitation case. This is a serious child abuse. We received a call that Nwali Josephine was maltreating children. We immediately went to the scene and saw the children. One of them is four years old.
Her biological mother, Veronica, told us that she met the woman at a Rice Mill in Abakaliki and bought on credit from her. She couldn’t meet up with the payment of N100, thus she suggested Nwali should take her child. Nwali accepted. “We invited Veronica to our office and she honoured our invitation.
After interviewing her, we handed her over to the police for further investigation. The child has not been The church reunited with her parents because she is sick. We’re taking her to the hospital; her condition is very bad.” Director of Child Welfare and Protection in the ministry, Godwin Igwe, described the case as child trafficking.
He said: “The child was placed on debt bondage and it is one of the criteria of human trafficking. The woman who took this child for N100 debt is a mother. She gave birth to a baby last Saturday, and she has three children already before the present baby.”