I reported my neighbor to the police because I saw them colluding with our landlord to abuse their 14 year old daughter.
We live in Makoko. Our house is a face-me- I -face-you. There are six rooms on each side and a long corridor…you know how face to face houses are, don’t you? We share one kitchen, one toilet, one bathroom. All of us living in that yard. And there are seven families there; four bachelors and one single lady. There are plenty children, though and plenty of poverty, too.
I am a teacher by profession; I teach mathematics, Economics and Government at a government school, close by.
Papa Samuel, one of my co-tenants rented two rooms because he has a large family; he has 6 children and all of them are girls. Things were good for him at one time when he was a transport driver for one of these eastern bus lines. He had two okadas that were delivering for him and his wife sells okrika.
Then things went bad for him. He was involved in an accident along Ore road years back and they amputated his two legs. Before we knew it, he lost his two okadas; he sold them to take care of his medical bills. I know he spent a lot of money treating himself, I don’t think the company he worked for gave him so much as severance fee. Anyway before we knew it, Papa Samuel, yes, Samuel is a girl o, not a boy. Maybe he was expecting to have a boy and a girl came instead I don’t know but we call him Papa Samuel and Samuel is his first daughter.
Samuel, the first daughter was just 14 years then when this incident happened. She was in JSS3, very brilliant girl. She used to come to me to teach her mathematics, she said she wanted to be an engineer.
I like the girl’s sharp mind. She is the one, I think, who will eventually help her parents out of this poverty. But this girl, yellow pawpaw girl like this, the landlord began to call her to his apartment.
The landlord’s apartment is just beside our compound, a three-bedroom bungalow he shares with three adult children. His wife is late.
Everybody in our area knows the landlord is a useless old man. He is in his sixties. He chases anything in skirts. So when I began to see Samuel go inside his house and come out, I called her because I liked the girl a lot. I asked her what she was doing there. This girl told me her mother sent her to run errands for landlord.
I said, ok but be careful, the man is a useless man.
Then I saw her again coming out of the landlord’s house one evening when NEPA took light and I was outside fanning myself.
I said, ‘Hian, this girl ooo, she is playing with fire.’ I called her, ‘Sammy, come here at once!’
I told you the girl is a good girl, so I knew something was not right but immediately I called her, her mother quickly came out and called out to her, ‘Samuel, come and do something for me.’
So the girl didn’t answer me, she just walked slowly away to their room.
I said, ok. No wahala. Let me mind my own business.
Then like two weeks later I was outside packing the gutter, I usually do this on some Saturdays, it’s just my way of helping my community. I would wake up early to do this and sometimes, some other tenants would join me. That day, I saw Samuel walk tiredly out of the landlord’s house and collapsed in the corridor, I ran immediately to help her.
I am a man, it didn’t take me long to add two and two together. I knew the bastard landlord had been raping this girl. It must have been before we started sanitation because I did not see her when she went in, I only saw her when she came out and collapsed in the corridor!
I carried her to their room and called the mother; I wanted to tell her say, if she doesn’t do what she should do, me, I will go and report to police and she and her husband will also be in trouble because this girl is a minor, obviously they are very much aware the landlord has constantly been raping her, they can’t tell me they didn’t know!
When I entered their room, the place was smelling like shit! Papa Samuel was on his wheel chair, I think he had pooed on himself and the wife was cleaning him.
I dropped their daughter on one couch filled with clothes.
I said, ‘Mama Samuel, are you people aware the landlord has been molesting your daughter?’
Mama Samuel told me Samuel is helping them pay for their rent; that in the last three years, since Papa Samuel became sick and not able to pay rent, the Landlord has been threatening to throw them out.
‘Where we go go, Mr Teacher?’ she asked meas her husband stared at me.
I swear, I was dumbfounded. I said but it is also wrong to spoil your daughter’s life because of this; she is your future, why are you ruining it? They just shook their heads.
I don’t have the money to help them. I am a poor teacher too. I am not married because I can’t afford to keep a wife but there are ashis everywhere. If baba landlord wants to have sex, they are plenty here in Makoko that are willing, it is wrong to use this child.
I couldn’t keep quiet. I had to go and report to the police that day. That was how the girl was taken to Mirabel centre. They are ensuring she is being well cared for. The last I heard is that they moved her to a home. I wish her the best. Me myself, I have since moved from that house.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)