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Lagos daycare operator arrested over defilement of 21-month-old baby



A daycare operator in the Egbeda area of Lagos State, identified simply as Veronica, has been arrested by the police over the defilement of a 21-month-old baby put in her care.

The child, Amaka (not real name), was reportedly molested at the facility by a yet-to-be-identified person.

The Punch learnt that Veronica, who denied the incident happened in her custody, was arrested along with her brother.

The brother, who also claimed to be innocent of the alleged crime, was said to have been released on bail.

It was gathered that Amaka’s mother, Christiana, had brought her home in the evening from the daycare when the girl suddenly began to run temperature.

It was learnt that the mother took her to a nearby private hospital after the first aid she gave her did not improve her health condition.

Speaking to The Punch during the week, Christiana, a trader, who deals in shoes and clothes, said the medical examination conducted on her daughter at the hospital revealed that “she was bleeding from her vagina and her hymen had been ruptured.”

The mother said she subsequently reported the case at the Idimu Police Station and Veronica was arrested.

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Christiana recalled,

“I usually took my baby to a daycare in Egbeda off Gowon Estate and would pick her while I was returning from my shop in the evening.

“I used to drop her with Madam Veronica, who operates the daycare. She also runs a primary school by the side.

“On February 12, I dropped her as usual and when I went to pick her in the evening, I noticed that she was running temperature. I gave her paracetamol but by the next morning, her condition had become worse. She could not stand or walk. I rushed her to the hospital. The doctor examined her and said she had been defiled.

“The doctor asked me to go and bring police report before he would treat her. I went to the Idimu Police Station and reported the case. The police asked me to take them to the woman’s house. They arrested her and her brother who was living with her.”

Christiana told our correspondent that the hospital treated Amaka and prescribed her some drugs. Four days after, her condition reportedly deteriorated and she was referred to another hospital.

“The police told me to go to Mirabel Centre in Ikeja where she was eventually treated and the case was later transferred to the Gender Unit of the Lagos State Police Command headquarters in Ikeja.

“The case has been taken to court. The woman said she did not know who defiled my daughter and that it did not happen at the daycare.

“I usually included an extra ‘pampas’ (nappies) whenever I took her to the daycare. When I went to pick her that day, she was wearing only pants. The woman said my baby had exhausted the two nappies. When I wanted to wash the clothes she wore that day, I saw bloodstains there,” she added.

The mother of three alleged that Veronica’s husband, a policeman, had been boasting to use his influence to get his wife out of the cell. She insisted that the woman must explain the circumstances surrounding the defilement.

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The Coordinator of Esther Child Rights Foundation, where the case was also reported, Mrs Esther Ogwu, said the organisation would work with the Office of the Public Defender to ensure justice was done.

She called on the Lagos State Government to properly regulate daycare operations in the state.

She said,

“My heart is heavy concerning the lives of our children in this country. I cry every day. When listening to the mother of the child, I felt very bad because it could have happened to anybody. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the Lagos State Government to look into these daycare centres because most of them are using their homes rather than standard apartments to run the business.

“According to the mother of the girl, the owner told her that the incident did not happen in her place yet when the mother got there that day, she met the child naked and without a nappy.

“I would like to use this medium to appeal to parents to be careful in situations like this. Women carrying their children to daycare centres should be wary of the ones that have men working there.

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bala Elkana, said he would get back with comments on the incident.

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However, he had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.