The Bayelsa Police Command on Monday confirmed the arrest of Ziworitin Keke, a 59-year old traditional health practitioner who allegedly cut off the genitals of a nine-month-old baby during circumcision.
Joseph Michael, the father of the victim, had been asked to raise between N5,000 and N10,000 before the case could be investigated.
Michael told Sahara Reporters that the real reason the suspect had been moving about freely after committing the crime was that he had no money to give to the police.
“I had gone to the Krokrosei Police Division to report the matter, but they asked me to bring some money before a case file can be opened. They refused to entertain my complaint because I had no money.”
He said he told the police he would try to raise the money to pursue the matter but that he first had to run around to treat the baby who was in critical condition at the hospital.
“It is unfortunate that Nigeria Police work this way, it was the International Federation of Women Lawyers that wrote a petition what woke them up and we heard in the community that they arrested him on Saturday 11 March for an incident that happened in early February,” Michael said.
DSP Asinim Butswat, the spokesman for the police, said on Monday that Mr. Keke was in custody and an investigation underway.
“We arrested the suspect following a report of the circumcision incident, he is currently in our custody, and he was arrested on Saturday, and hopefully after investigation, the prosecution will follow subject to the outcome of the investigation,” he explained.
On the delay in arresting the suspect, the police spokesman said that the police got the report shortly after the incident in February, but the family was preoccupied with seeking medical care for the baby.
It will be recalled that the incident occurred at Odenwari, a coastal settlement in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa, on February 5.
“We got the report earlier from Krokrosei Division of the Command in Southern Ijaw which is the nearest Division, we have been working with the family on the case,” Butswat said.
Mrs. Eudora Michael, the mother of the baby, said on Monday that her nine-month-old, Oyintari Michael, was at risk and in excruciating pain, and desperately needs medical help.
The 35-year old said on Monday at Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa that she and her husband were indigent and cannot afford the specialized care the baby needs to stay alive.
“Since this sad incident occurred in February this year, we have been running around to raise money. We have borrowed up and down and are in big debt, my husband has gone to the village to gather money, but people are not forthcoming. People who had given us loan are not willing to give us more when we have not paid what we borrowed.”
She said her family was dependent on the mercy of doctors who are spending their own money when they see that her family is unable to provide the drugs they prescribe, the baby is in pain and always crying, cannot urinate and his bladder is swollen.
“I have to stand near the bed or bend down to breastfeed him so that the pipes connected into his genitals [do not] shift and go off and further complicate the situation,” she said.
She appealed to the wife of Bayelsa Government, Dr Rachael Dickson, and kind-hearted Nigerians to assist financially with medical bills to save her baby, pointing out that her jobless husband has no means to settle the high medical costs.