When it takes a village and indeed the parents

If there is anytime that I believe the saying “It takes a village to raise a child’ the case of Ese Osuru is one, well in this case “…to rescue a child.” I read through some of the contributions of amazing people rooting relentlessly for the release of Ese, some even had time responding to others who thought a 14 year old girl is ‘ripe’ enough for marriage.

Short version of the story. Ese Osuru is a 14 year old Bayelsan girl in secondary school. August 2015, Ese was taken from Bayelsa to Kano by Mr Yinusa without the knowledge of the family. Yinusa, before this time is well known by the family – he buys food both in cash and credit from the mother.

Two days later Ese’s mother went to Kano searching for her daughter – all in all she came back without Ese. The tale included Emir of Kano, His Royal Highness, Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Kano police and then Bayelsa police – none of these people could do enough to get Ese, a 14year old back to her parents.

After recent intense pressure from the public, Ese was re-united with her family 02 March 2016. She left home 12 August 2015.

Crazy? One would think. Well, if Yarima, a Senator could marry a 13 year old, why not Yanusi?

In Yoruba, we say ‘Ka le ẹlẹ́yọ́rọ́ s’ẹ́họ̀n, ká tó bá adìẹ wi’ (chase away fox before discipline chicken).

The family have suffered enough so I am not going to be critical of the parents but I will say this. When I was Ese’s age, I don’t see my parents during the week as they live in the village about 12 miles or so away (thanks to the government for not maintaining village schools).

Before my mother agreed to leave us behind, she had supports of trusted adults around.

There was a lady, Mama Sola who was very close to my mother, they were good friends, she knew all there is to know about my family and vice versa. She lived next door. If Mama Sola didn’t see us, she’d come by in the evening to say hello and take a ‘stock’.

In the building were three other families, all were known to my parents. There was another very nice family, they just returned to town from Lagos – the woman and my mother got along well, so she is always on our case.

Both of these women gave accounts to my mother whenever she comes to town, usually end of the month and in return my mother gave the only gift she could afford – palm oil and gaari.

Yinusa’s type is everywhere in Nigeria and are growing because they are getting away with crime.

When I was 16, we moved house as landlord coming home due to retirement. We moved to a much bigger house, a storey building with 6 different families, 4 bachelors and my sister and I.

Shortly after we moved into this building, we had a new fellow tenant, in his early 40s. He rented the room directly opposite our room, he was a lorry driver but going through hard time as his wife left him with their 3 year old daughter. Occasionally, his daughter would visit.

This is all that we knew about him. He seems nice.

In this house our ‘guardian’ was the landlord. He was home a lot during the day.

And there is a church behind us, a branch of the church that we attended, but we just can’t be bothered to change church so my mother went to the pastor to introduce herself so the pastor and his wife were another people keeping eye on us. Their older daughter and I were in the same class.

Our movement is quite predictable. Home – school – home – church and Friday evening, away until Sunday evening.

Long story short was about the new tenant. I’ll call him Baba Yetunde here. In this house it was just me and my younger sister. We were both in the same school.

Baba Yetunde started making odd comments such as ‘to know a girl is beautiful, one has to see her first thing in the morning’ this was meant for me, I would just smile and walked along.

Then he bought be a wrist watch as a gift, oddly didn’t include my sister. I still didn’t think anything of it. Thankfully, one day Baba Yetunde spoke to another of my mother’s ‘foot soldiers’ who on occasion would stop by to check on us that he wanted to marry me and that he has hinted my mother on this.

The said ‘foot soldier’ waited until my mother came to town and told her. Let’s just say it was not pretty because Baba Yetunde did not know that my mother’s worse nightmare was to hear her child is dropping out of school to get married and my mother has never liked us receiving gifts from anyone not even my own uncle who had ‘history’.

The result? Mother finds enough reason for us to move out of that house.

I am glad that the efforts of good Nigerians paid off on Ese. Happy for Ese’s parents – second chance is great. Happy for Ese.

Whatever is going to happen to her unborn child is a whole other story.

Categories: Nigeria, Religion, Women

Tags: , ,

14 replies

  1. FK
    My take is this, even the best made plans in the work can go wrong. It only takes a moment for danger to strike, as in the case of the alleged suspect (Mallam) Yinusa to swoop and make off with Ese. Was she raped, did she get forced into marriage (if so, by whom)? Either way with all the commotion that occurred it is interesting to see that the number one alleged suspect one Mallam Yinusa, has not been arrested or gone to a police station to clear his name (if he is innocent).
    I can’t begin to even understand, where one man thinks he has the right to do something like this to someone’s child (or any child for that matter).
    Is there something like the respect of human rights taught in schools in Nigeria? If not, maybe it would be good idea to have something like it taught in schools or places of worship. This case is so out of order, it verges on being unbelievable, sadly though it is a reality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, first of all the main reason we even get to hear this case is because Ese is Igbo and Yinusa is Hasua. If Ese was to be from the north, we wouldn’t hear this at all, sad but that is the fate of most girls in the north.

      In my mind the total disrespect for age appropriateness of nuptial arrangement don’t just stay there alone, it affects all areas of girl-child in most of our regions.

      Childbride is a big problem in Nigeria but northern Nigeria do it with pride i.e Senator Yarima.

      This case is especially sad because Emir of Kano His Royal Highness Sanusi was roped into the case – our reality.

      Human rights taught in schools? Yes, I remember we were taught to respect and look out for one another. However, growing up in my town, all that means nothing not when I witnessed supposed elders hunting lives of innocent people mostly youths.

      Sorry, concept of human rights is beyond blurry in Nigeria.


      • You’ve stumped me on this one!!
        So what would you propose about educating people not to mistreat children.

        As you know one footballer (in the UK) is rumoured to be sentenced to 10 years, for inappropriate sexual contact with a minor. By the sounds of it, he was not nearly as harsh as the alleged Mallam Yunusa. The girl wasn’t wrenched from her family (like Ese).

        Back to Nigeria, punishment of the offender is clearly part of it, but wider education needs to be put in place so that everyone knows you can’t do such things from now on.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Totally agree with punishment of the offender. It is lack of appropriate punishment for offenders that got us where we are today.

          Well, I clearly don’t have all the answers but I think Nigerians, by that I mean those who have been privileged enough to live outside the country and benefited from human rights law/see how applications of human rights law benefit all citizens and those within that live privileged lives (enlightened ones) need to work together to shed lights and form ‘unbiased group’ to help with issues such as this.

          For example, all children are protected in the UK (to a large extent) regardless of the parents status i.e immigrant or citizens.

          Why do we think it is okay for childbride to go on in the north i.e Senator Yarima blabbing away shamelessly at the Senate saying he isn’t doing anything illegal marrying a 13 yr old (makes one sick, uh), so they concluded, ha, ‘it is their culture, as long as it doesn’t happen in the south’ – are people with that sort of mindset even fit to represent Nigerians at all?

          Yes, I read about the UK girl she was 15 (I think). If it was Nigeria, the footballer will be crown an Emir now.


          • I think if we people can ignore ethnicity, and look at the offence – will go a long way to unraveling this problem.

            Another problem to overcome is selfishness, most Nigerians don’t care about the fate of the missing Chibok girls or the other victims of Boko Haram. Given this, it comes as no surprise that southerners will not push strongly for the rights of girls, given that it is most likely to be used by the guilty to garner support to cover themselves. How many northeners have you heard speak up strongly on this issue? Very few, if any. For southerners to take a stand on this would seem like they are spoiling for a fight and hence conflict will follow.

            It really starts at the epicentre of this, ie northern Nigeria, enough brave people will need to take a stand and lead the way, without which no one elsewhere will lift a finger. This seems to be a recurrent problem, hardly anyone in that region dares say anything, so it becomes almost impossible for outsiders to participate in their affairs.

            How a group of unbiased Nigerians abroad, could hope to influence the affairs, in the more sheltered north, escapes me. Do people there even care?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Your first point sums it all up – ethnicity bias is killing us, everyone suffer the consequences.

              You know we have child marriage in the south as well, the reason we don’t make issue of it is because it’s ‘dog eating dog’ affair. Why aren’t we talking about stopping childbride in the south? The reason is because it only affects poor folks and they do’t matter much.

              Well, I thought at least we can work together to collate data and present it to the decision making bodies – yea, I see your point on how difficult this might be given the nature of people up north …


              • I think collating data is a marvellous idea, you can’t argue with facts. Sooner or later a more reasonable state of mind may occur, and people will no doubt reflect upon all the casualties along the way. If names and faces along with their stories can be produced that may melt some stony hearts.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. A very annoying situation. What an old fool of a man would be doing with a little child is what I don’t know. Pervert and cradle snatcher. I learnt that the poor girl is pregnant.

    Liked by 1 person


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