by: Aluzu Augustine
There seems to be a ray of hope for 16-year-old Lilian Friday who is currently undergoing medical treatment for severe damage done to her right eye by a group of suspected cultists in Otuoke community in Bayelsa State.
Lilian, a senior secondary school student of Community Secondary School (CSS) Otuoke/Otuoba was said to have been attacked by members of a suspected female cult group. It was gathered that the female cultists, who are also secondary school students and classmates of Lilian, reportedly attacked the victim on April 26, 2018 at Otuoke community.
Lilian was said to have been accosted along the road on the fateful day by one of the female cultists whose name was simply given as Josephine and her gang. Josephine was said to have been mounting pressure on Lilian for sometime to belong to their cult group which Lilian refused on several occasion.
A national paper reported that the victim’s uncle, Mr. Benson Agiobu, said Josephine and her gang insisted his niece (Lilian) must join their cult group or they would teach her a bitter lesson she wouldn’t forget.
PRESSURE TO JOIN CULTISM
Lilian and her family were said to have emigrated from Emeyal to Otuoke last year (2017) where she and her assailants (Josephine) became neighbours. Since then, Josephine and her gang members who are all classmates of Lilian except one have been pressurizing her to join their cult group but she refused.
This led from one form of harassment and intimidation to the other from the gang. On several occasions, they have tore her notebooks in class and threatened her life. She has had cause to report the gang to teachers in the school who only warned them to leave her alone.
The fear of the gang sometimes, forced her to miss school some days and stay at home to help her mom. The gang soon took the harassment from school to the house. According to Lilian, she has suffered serious assaults from the gang. There was a day Josephine and her gang tried to throw her off a bridge after beating her up in Otuoke, she was however rescued from the gang by a bike man.
On another occasion, the gang mobilized to her house, up to seven (7) of them and beat her up. When she reported the threats and assault to her mom, the mother warned Josephine to steer clear from her daughter. The mother subsequently reported to the community leader who called Josephine and admonished her to leave Lilian alone. The community leader solicited that the police should be left out of the matter since it has been settled by the community.
DANGER LURKING IN THE SHADOWS
At 16, Lilian is a baker already. She bakes and sells bread as well as meat pie which she usually gives the proceeds to her mom. It was this entrepreneurial spirit that attracted Josephine’s brother to her who made advances towards her. Lilian turned him down as well.
This provoked Josephine even more and she started taunting Lilian by calling her unprintable names like “prostitute” whenever she sees Lilian on the way. Lilian says she ignored all of this.
On the 26th of April, 2018, after baking meat pie and bread for breakfast, Lilian decides to take some to her Uncle’s (Mr. Benson Agiobu) fiancé on his behest. On her way back to the house, Josephine and her gang numbering more than four (4) squared up against her and started beating her. In trying to resist the attack and defend herself against them, Josephine bite her on her cheek. That was when passersby separated them.
JOSEPHINE NEEDING MORE THAN A POUND OF FLESH
After the passersby separated the gang from beating her, Lilian headed straight to her house. However, Josephine and her gang followed her home to cause more trouble but it took the intervention of Lilian’s aunt (Aunty Monica) to chase them away with a cane.
After a while, that same day, Lilian started feeling pains as a result of the bite she suffered from Josephine so she decided to go and get some medication (drugs). Little did she know that Josephine and her gang were lurking around.
It was on her way to the chemist that they attacked her again. She was held by four (4) other girls (all students of CSS Otuoke) while Josephine injured her in her right eye, leaving her unconscious. Lilian regained consciousness only in the hospital bed.
HOW SHE IS FEELING NOW
Lilian says her body is responding to treatment but she feels weak.
STEPS TAKEN SINCE THE INCIDENCE OCCURRED
The grieving mother of Lilian, Mrs Igboki P. Friday, says she wasn’t around when the incidence happened. She was however informed through a phone call. On her arrival, she saw her daughter in a pool of her own blood.
She said she has since reported the matter to the Police at Kolo Division.
The mother says they have also laid a formal complaint to the leaders of Otuoke community because it is the tradition of the community that before an arrest is made against any individual in the community, the leaders has to be put on the know.
They met with the Community Development Chairman of Otuoke community and his cabinet members on Friday, 27th of April, 2018. That very day, they brought Josephine’s mother before them who was pleading on behalf of her daughter (Josephine) that the Police should not be involved in the matter.
Josephine’s mother insisted that Josephine had left the house and is incommunicado since Thursday, 26th of April, 2018.
Josephine and her gang is yet to be arrested.
Since the incidence occurred, Lilian has been admitted in the emergency unit of an undisclosed hospital. Her Uncle, Mr. Benson Agiobu said it was hectic getting her to a hospital that was willing to attend to her injuries as she was rejected by 4 different hospitals who either did not have the proper medication to administer to her or were on strike.
Lilian’s mother said they have spent quite a considerable amount of money which they do not have to treat her of the injuries sustained.
One of the Doctors attending to Lilian who spoke anonymously with Patriotism Advancement and Community Orientation Network (PACON) says the cut to her eye was not due to a sharp object. That there were marks of teeth to her eyelid and cheek.
He recommended that she should be taken to an Ophthalmologist to envision the level of damage done to her eye and vision, and probably refer her to a plastic surgeon who will operate on the upper and lower eyelids because her eye coverings are completely severed.
SUPPORT FROM PACON
The members of Patriotism Advancement and Community Orientation Network (PACON), a non-governmental organization leading a campaign against cultism and drug abuse in secondary schools in the state upon getting the report of the incident visited the victim in hospital and assessed the situation and level of damage.
PACON has offered to provide free legal aide to the family and has pledged to begin a fund raising campaign for the victim should an Ophthalmologist further recommends plastic surgery for Lilian.
Below is a photo of the visit, from left to right is the Convener of PACON (Aluzu E. Augustine), the mother of the victim (Mrs Igboki P. Friday) the victim (Lilian Friday) and her Uncle (Benson Agiobu)