Usnah, a baby girl, was in that pit for four days, hanging between an opening space between the excavated pit and the soak-away wall, with her head acting as a hook that suspended her body. The whole neighbourhood of Pipeline Road and its environs were said to have been thrown into confusion as the sad news of the missing girl spread like wild fire during the harmattan.
The parents of the baby, Mrs. Barakat Badmus and Mr. Nurudeen Badmus, were simply inconsolable as they searched the bush and isolated buildings around their residence on 19, Pipeline Road, Aboru, looking for their only child.
She was later found in a pit, covered with leaves and rags, four days after the baby had been missing. When Usnah was finally found in an uncompleted building beside her parents‘ abode, her parents were apprehensive. Was she still alive? If yes, in what state of health would she be by now? Questions; and more questions, begging for answers! Mercifully, dark-skinned Usnah was alive! However, she has suffered bruises in both ears, which portrayed the position she stayed for those four agonising days, at the mercy of the elements.
How did Shekinat perform this wicked act? Badmus said that on that particular Sunday, himself, his wife and baby went to bed around 9:00pm, while Shekinat was left in the sitting room, which also served as her sleeping space.
The first episode that showed that the girl was up to some mischief was said to have happened some minutes after they retired to bed. Badmus told SUNDAY PUNCH, ”Shekinat came towards the door of our bedroom, and was trying to enter when I challenged her. She said that we did not close the door properly and that she only wanted to close it firmly.
”She came the second time and gave another flimsy excuse. It wasn‘t until around 11:00pm when my wife wanted to breastfeed the baby that we discovered the baby was no longer on the bed with us.”
The Badmuses and their neighbours all trooped out that night looking for Usnah. They searched till midnight, yet there was no baby like Usnah in sight.
All this while, Shekinat was also said to have denied knowing anything about the whereabouts of the baby. According to Badmus, Shekinat was only punishing her aunt for rebuking her for her misdemeanor.
On the Saturday preceding the day of the incident, Badmus discovered that a sum of N800 was missing where he kept it in his trousers pocket. He had asked Shekinat about the missing money, but she denied ever knowing anything about it. But later, he said, Shekinat and one of her friends in the neighbourhood, named Basirat, came forward to say they had found the money under the bed.
Shekinat‘s aunt, Barakat, who was away when the incident involving money happened, was said to have reprimanded Shekinat by giving her some strokes of the cane. Badmus told our correspondent that perhaps that stealing Usnah was the only way she could get back at her aunt for rebuking her.
The search for the baby continued till Wednesday, when she was said to have been discovered in an uncompleted building next to their residence.
”We had reported the case at two police stations. We reported at Oke-Odo police station and one other one around here,” Badmus informed.
Usnah was said to have been found around 1:00pm, already weak and tired. She was later taken to a hospital, Yaks Healing Centre, on 7B, Ola Mummy Street, Aboru, which is about 500 metres from her parents‘ residence.
When our correspondent visited the hospital on Wednesday evening, the doctor was treating her, with her parents and other relations surrounding her bed. She was put on a drip, following which she fell into a deep sleep. The doctor and the nurses pleaded that she be left alone to rest.
The landlords and residents could only exclaim: ”It is only God that could do this (that is, sustain the child for four agonising days without food or water).” Her parents, who are staunch Muslims, could not agree less.
”I thank God that no dangerous reptiles bit her within those four days. Besides, heavy rains fell on Monday and Tuesday; so, her being alive is simply a miracle,” her father stated.
Another visible unsavoury experience Usnah suffered is that her body and hair were covered with mud.
Badmus told our correspondent on Wednesday that it took profuse pleading from him and his wife before Shekinat, who they brought in to live them only a month ago, confessed that she took the baby and gave her to someone living on the same street with them.
”It took a lot of pleading and cajoling before Shekinat confessed that she gave the baby to a man living across the road,” he said.
And that man was Mr. Murtala Osaye, who is the landlord of 10, Pipeline Road, in the same Aboru. But Shekinat changed her story 24 hours later, exonerating Osaye of the crime and mentioning an imaginary young man dressed in a blue T-shirt and jeans trousers.
But that wasn‘t before Osaye has been detained at Oke-Odo Police Station for almost 48 hours over the incident.
”I was arrested by the men of Oke-Odo police station on Monday and released on Tuesday,” Osaye told SUNDAY PUNCH at his residence on Wednesday, expressing his frustration at not being able to slaughter his Sallah ram and celebrate with members of his household.
He further told our correspondent that the policemen searched his house and did not find anything incriminating there.
Shekinat added another dimension to her bag of lies when she allegedly said that ”the young man to whom she handed the baby disappeared as soon as he collected Usnah from her.”
The 61-year Osaye, who is a landlord in the area, said he didn‘t know Shekinat until she told lies against him and he was arrested.
Narrating how the baby was found, Badmus said that it was on a second thought that he and an Islamic cleric, who came to offer prayers for the family on the sad incident, went to the uncompleted building, where they heard agonising shrieks from the direction of the soak-away.
”We had to break some portion of the soak-away before I could lift my baby out of the hole,” Badmus recounted with smiles demonstrating his relief.
Usnah‘s mother, Barakat, said that Shekinat was her elder sister‘s daughter and that she did not deserve the kind of torture the girl gave her. ”I never knew I had committed a crime by correcting her. Again, I never treated her badly,” she said with a tinge of regrets.
Shekinat is said to have history of bad stories trailing her. Badmus explained that she was said to have thrown into the bush the handsets and keys of another aunt of hers in Ibadan when that aunt reprimanded her for untoward behavior.
At press time, Shekinat was still being held at Oke-Odo police station. The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, when contacted on Thursday on the matter said: ”I‘m aware of the incident at the Oke-Odo police station, but I cannot comment on it now. I am on my way to attend a meeting on the Island (Lagos Island).”