Victoria Udoh, 43, a widow, has narrated how her 17-year-old daughter, Marvelous, became an inmate in the female section of Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, Lagos State.
Victoria, who disclosed that Marvelous is her last child, revealed that the first child is 25 years old, while the second is 20 years old.
Marvelous has been incarcerated now for nine months and is very desperate to come out, said Victoria.
The widow explained that Marvelous’s troubles started after she got a job as a house help with a family in Lekki/Ajah.
The job was supposed to be temporary.
She wanted to work and save enough money to apply to go to a catering school.
But those dreams had since become a stillborn.
Not only was she not able to realise her dreams, she’s now on remand in prison.
Victoria said her daughter was remanded in prison after she had an encounter with fraudsters, who allegedly hypnotised her and then compelled her to steal her madam’s jewellery.
The madam, simply identified as Bunmi, said the jewellery was worth N8 million.
The woman, however, gave Marvelous two options: to take her to the men that she gave the jewellery to or pay her N400,000.
Victoria insisted that she had been struggling to fend for children since the demise of her husband and couldn’t in a million years raise N400,000.
She said: “There’s no way I can be able to raise such amount of money. If I had such an amount of money, I wouldn’t have allowed my last child to for house help work. It was because we needed money that Marvelous went for such a job.
“God knows that I have been begging money for months now, just to ensure that my daughter gets bail, all to no avail. I haven’t been able to raise money. Marvelous was born in August 2002. It was after her Senior School West African Examinations (WAEC) in July 2018 that she went to work with her madam at Lekki/Ajah. It was August she clocked 17. She went for the housemaid work because we didn’t have money.
“My daughter’s wish was to further her education, but there was no money. When Marvelous’s friends were buying forms for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, she asked me for money. I told her I didn’t have money. Even the WAEC she wrote, it was tough raising the money. I had to borrow money and add the little I had in order to pay for that WAEC. She knew our condition. Since a higher institution was out of the question, we decided that she should go to a catering school. The catering school insisted that she had to pay N50,000 before she was allowed to enroll. And again, we didn’t have money.
“I then thought it would be a good idea for her to seek employment in a nursery school so that she would be able to save enough money for the catering school. I was shocked when the salary was N5,000. How can one save on that?
“We were still thinking on how what do to when a man came to tell us that a woman needed a housemaid at Lekki/Ajah. He said that he wanted to help us; that was how we got into this present predicament. My little girl had been in prison since November.”
Marvelous started working with Bunmi in July 2018 and part of her job was going to go on errands.
Victoria said it was in the course of going errands for her madam that Marvelous ran into the fraudsters.
Victoria said: “On the fateful day she ran into the fraudsters, her madam sent her to go and buy bean cakes. The men were within their vicinity in Ajah. They called and asked her where she works and where she stays. They collected her phone number and started calling her. They told her that her madam was an occult person and that was how they started calling her.
“They told her that the money her madam was using to pay her salary was occult money. Marvelous salary was N20,000. They told her to bring her madam’s money so that they could pray over it. She told them that she would have to tell her mother or madam, but they forbade her from telling anyone. They told her that she would die if she reveals her encounter with them to anyone. They brainwashed her.
“They called her one day and told her that her madam had gold jewellery that Marvelous should bring them for prayers, if not she would die. Marvelous insisted that she should tell her madam, but they refused again. That was how they controlled my daughter. They asked her if she had access to her madam’s room and for her to go and bring the items since her madam has gone to work.
“Marvelous opened her madam’s room and took a nylon filled with gold jewellery. She said that whatever they asked to do, she was just doing it. She was further instructed to board a bus from Ajah, heading to Oshodi that they would wait for her.
“They controlled her through the phone until she got to where they were. When she got to them, they asked her to kneel for prayers. Marvelous also handed over her two months’ salary, N40,000, which she had been saving, to the fraudsters.
“They gave her N50 to go and give to a beggar. When she came back, she couldn’t find them. She stood there for over five hours. She saw policemen attached to the Rapid Response Squad and went to meet them. She explained what happened and told them that she hadn’t eaten since morning. They bought food for her.
“They asked her if she could remember her mother’s phone number, she said yes. They also asked her if she could remember her madam’s phone number, she said yes. They called her madam, who came with policemen from Ajah. They handcuffed and took her to police station, where she was asked to write a statement. After the statement, she was detained.”
When Victoria heard the worth of the jewellery, she broke down and started crying.
“We were trying to raise N50, 000 for a catering school, now we’re looking for millions,” said Victoria.
She added: “When we got to the station, the madam said that the jewellery was worth N8 million. I nearly collapsed. The madam said that if she didn’t return her jewellery, she would collect the value of it in money. I rolled on the floor, cried and begged her. If I had so much as N30,000, my daughter would not have gone to work for anyone.
“We eventually went to court and she was remanded because of the stringent bail condition. The case has been taken to court five times, but Marvelous had never been brought to court. The madam said that she would withdraw the case if we can pay her N400,000. I had earlier raised N100,000, but she rejected it.
“I don’t know what else to do. I want my daughter to leave prison. I’m appealing to Nigerians to assist me with money in order to get my daughter out of Kirikiri Prison. I need to pay her madam; I have run out of options. Marvelous is just a young girl. I have no money to get a lawyer. In fact, the N100, 000 I took to the woman was a loan I ran from pillar to post to raise, yet the madam rejected it. My daughter is in adult prison, instead of a juvenile home. This is wrong.”
The woman, who doesn’t have a lawyer for Marvelous, said her first son just completed his plumbing apprentice and presently seeking employment, while the second son works in a bakery.
According to Bumni, she treated Marvelous like a daughter, but the girl turned around to stab her.
She said that after considering everything, she came to the conclusion that Marvelous connived with supposed fraudsters to steal her gold jewellery.
Bunmi said that happened just as she was planning to assist the girl to get forms for GCE and Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.
The woman noted that she was the most affected by the whole drama because Marvelous shattered her trust in people.
She admitted that the jewellery was worth N8 million and that she had been magnanimous enough to ask them to pay N400,000, which she insisted was to serve as deterrent to other people.
Bunmi expressed shock over Victoria’s claim that Marvelous was 17 years old.
According to her, she had never and will never employ someone less than 20 years old.
She said that when the girl came for the job interview, she repeatedly asserted her age was 20.