A father of three, Mr. Patrick Effiom has locked up his children, aged 13, 11, and seven respectively in a dark room in his house for days, feeding them with cassava flakes.
It was gathered that the incident occurred at Asabanka in Idundun in Akpabuyo local government area of Cross River state.
An eyewitness, Iniobong Ekpo who lives in the neighbourhood, said Effiom has been locking up his children like that for days and weeks consecutively.
“We discovered that whenever he wants to leave the house, he locked up his children in a dark room without food or water, they sleep there, defecate there and the man does not really care.
“Before the Basic Child Rights Initiative (BCRI) that rescued the children came, we did not really know what was going on, we only know that we see them around some times but only when their father is around but once he is out, the children will be nowhere to be found.”
Effiom, however, alleged that his children are into witchcraft and had wrecked him financially, adding that they crashed his poultry business with their witchcraft.
He said that he gave his children cassava flakes to drink because that was what he has, “I only gave them garri to drink because that is what I have before I travelled to Akwa Ibom for a church programme.”
The suspect further said that the children from discussions are the ones who dwindled his financial fortunes and that his taxi business failed because of their manipulations. He said the eldest amongst them (a girl) confessed they were the ones behind his bad fortune.
“The senior one who is 13 confessed to me after I had useful discussions with her that she was the head of the witch in the family and was responsible for my misfortunes and misery and that she and her two siblings, 11 and seven were responsible for my down fall financially.
“I did not starve them because what I eat is what I also give to them, but because of my financial incapacity that’s why I dropped only dry garri for them before leaving.
“I locked them up because whenever I travel or leave the house they always go out and cause one trouble or other, so to avoid such occurrence I had to lock them up.”
Rescuing the children, a child right group, Basic Child Rights Initiative (BCRI), after neighbours alerted them, said the children were looking malnourished.
The Principal Council and Human Rights Activists, Barrister James Ibor said that the suspect had been locking up the children consistently over time since the beginning of this year.
“He locked them up without food or water inside the place he used as poultry. He claimed that they were the ones behind his misfortunes and they wrecked him financially.
“We have listened to his testimony which is highly inconsistent and incoherent. Branding children witches is a criminal offense and against the laws of our country.
“He does not deserve to be a free man because if all things are equal he should be in jail at least for two years, the law of Nigeria made provision for the protection of children from this kind of treatment.
“We will not rest until the law takes it cause, we have taken the children under our care and we shall make sure they are well taken care of and given everything they need and we are appealing to the police to carry out a thorough investigation on the matter ,” he said.
The Police Public Relations officer in the state, ASP Irene Ugbo confirmed the incident, saying that arrest has been made but the man has been granted bail because he a the right to bail.
“We are not done with our investigations but the man was arrested but had to be released on bail because he has the right to be granted bail because of the kind of offense he committed, but the matter has not been closed,” she stated.