Little Mercy is barely a month old and her mother, Miss Blessing Jaree is confused on how or where she will be raised. That confusion landed them at the Lagos State Police Criminal Investigation Department, Panti where Mercy’s grandfather, Alfred Jaree is insisting that the baby had been sold.
Also dragged before the police were Mercy’s father, Amos and her aunty, Bunmi who, it was learnt, took over the upkeep of little Mercy from the day she was born. Bunmi was accused of child theft with the consent of his brother, Amos.
Not really sure of what transpired, Blessing, 22, said that she was convinced to part with her baby at birth since she had no place to raise her. She claimed that she was living inside a tricycle popularly known as Keke Marwa with her boyfriend and her first child who is less than two years old. She was seen at the station battling to feed her baby with a feeding bottle while passersby tried to show her how best to feed a baby. She claimed that she was asked not to breastfeed little Mercy, since she had not done that right from birth.
Blessing said that she willingly gave out Mercy to the woman who she referred to as aunty Bunmi.
“I was not forced to give my daughter away. Aunty Bunmi promised to take care of her. She came to our rescue when she realised that we were living inside a Keke Marwa. My boyfriend, Amos, who is also the father of my two children, has been my only source of help. My father, who works with Ebony casket, drove me out of the house when he learnt that I was pregnant. I had no choice but to go and live with my boyfriend. Initially, he had a room but was driven out of the house months after the birth of our first child.
“We had no choice but to sleep inside buses pending when he will get a good job and get us an accommodation. Luckily, he was able to secure a tricycle on a hire purchase basis. He was not the owner but was allowed to use it and pay a certain amount of money on a daily basis. This was how we moved over to sleep inside the Keke Marwa at night.
“It was there that I realised that I had got pregnant again when my daughter was barely six months. I tried my best to remove the baby but I was warned that I would die if I continued forcing it out. I managed myself till I was due to deliver. That was when I alerted aunty Bunmi, my boyfriend’s sister. She promised to assist me as soon as the baby is born.
“I know that she does not have a child and would be a good mother to my daughter. A day after my baby was born, she came as agreed and took her away. I was happy because it has not been easy taking care of the first child inside a Keke Marwa. I was also comfortable with the arrangement since she is related to my husband.”
Free at last, Blessing forgot about her child and started moving about like every normal person. “It was two weeks later that I saw my father. He abused me and asked what has become of his grandchild. I jokingly told him that they are two now and the latest is barely two weeks. He was mad at me that I left my child at home and started beating me up. I had no choice but to tell him that I handed over the child to someone. He raised an alarm, insisting that I had sold his child without his consent. He was the one who called the police and they arrested my boyfriend and his sister for child theft.”
When asked how on earth she managed to live inside a Keke Marwa for months, Blessing said she had no alternative. “I am even lucky that we have a place to sleep. Most people sleep under the bridge and at night police can come and raid the area or these area boys will rape you. What we normally do is to use the curtain to close the Keke very well. My son will lie at the carriage part. I will arrange the place with a cloth and it’s very comfortable while I will sit with Amos and close our eyes and sleep. As early as 5am, we will come out and bathe or look for a place to defecate and throw it into the lagoon. It is far better than sleeping under the bridge. Most buses are occupied.”
Trying to convince this reporter, Blessing said that any time they want to have sex, they will wait till middle of the night or while they are bathing in a corner. “This was where I conceived.”
On the possibility that she is likely going to lose Mercy to government, Blessing said: “I don’t want to lose her but if I do, no problem. I do not have a job and house. If anyone can assist me, I can take care of her. By the way it was only breast milk that I used to wean my little boy who is about one year and four months. If she will be safe with government that will be okay, I can always have another baby if I want. But my major concern is to get a job.”
How she has been surviving without a job, Blessing said that her boyfriend, Amos provides for them. “He is not my husband but he is very nice to me especially since I am carrying his child. I know that he will abandon me when they grow, that is why I need a job.”