Nine-year-old Abdullahi Taoreed has never known any other mother except Ronke Olayinka. He was just a year old when his biological mother abandoned him and ran away. The woman was said to have bolted after Abdullahi clocked one year and was still crawling when his mates were already walking. Scared out of her wits that she might be saddled with a cripple, the woman took off, leaving the child to her husband.
She would later remarry. Since her exit from Abdullahi’s life, the woman had never once bothered to check on her little son. The boy’s father, unsure of what to do with a crawling child, decided to hand him over to his elder sister, Ronke Olayinka. Abdullahi’s mother and father would later die in different years, places and circumstances, leaving the child an orphan.
Thus Abdullahi grew up to know only Olayinka as his mother and addressed as such. The boy however soon realised something was fundamentally wrong, when Olayinka took to spanking him with wood, while she would use a cane on his other siblings.
He had got used to being pounced on and beaten within an inch of life with sticks and wood by his mother, but on June 7, 2015, Olayinka went too far. On one of such occasions, she got a new blade and used it to slash Abdullahi’s hands. Neighbours later told the police that the boy’s screams of pains almost brought down their building at Pipeline Street in Oke-Odo area of Lagos State, where the incident occurred. Filled with pains and terrified to his bone marrows, as the blade sliced through flesh, Abdullahi had repeatedly tried to snatch his hands away.
But Olayinka held onto the little hands like her life depended on her brutality. Unfazed by the bloodied hands and pains on the boy’s face, Olayinka took pepper and poured into the fresh wounds, eliciting more cries of agony. When Sunday Telegraph asked to speak with the wounded boy, neighbours said he had been rushed to a nearby hospital by policemen from Oke-Odo Police Station.
On Monday, Abdullahi was able to speak with our correspondent. By December this year, Abdullahi will be 10. The boy looked unkempt and had a lot of scars on his body. He also has two fresh wounds on his head. He said the head wounds were inflicted on him by his mother. “My mummy used wood to hit me on the head,” he said, sighing heavily. “I don’t hawk anything, but I do the cooking.”
The primary two pupil continued: “Yes, it was my mummy who inflicted blade cuts on my hands because I went to a party opposite our house to eat. There was no food at home. I was hungry, so I assisted the people holding the party to carry chairs. I knew that if I assisted them, they would give me food. They gave me food. My sister went to report to my mummy. “We went for evening prayer.
After the prayer, my mummy called me and started cutting my hands with a blade. She went out to buy the blade. The cut was deep. She poured pepper into the wounds. She then gave me a hot pot of beans to carry to the kitchen with the bloodied hands. “One of our neighbours, a woman, saw me and took the pot from me. She went and told everyone in the compound. People saw my hands and started crying.”
Some of the neighbours, who said they were tired of Olayinka’s alleged maltreatment of Abdullahi, mobilised and alerted the police. Recalling his life so far with his adopted mother, Abdullahi said: “It’s not every time my mummy gives me food. She uses a piece of wood to beat me, but uses canes on her kids.”
Recollecting how he sustained one of the fresh head injuries, he said: “My mummy said I should go and buy kerosene. When I got there, the people said the money was not enough. I went home to tell mummy. She then used a piece of wood to hit me on my head.”