Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki
Thirteen-year-old Master Ifeanyi Umoke, a native of Inikiri village in Effium community in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, was reportedly thrown into a burning fire by two men from the community for allegedly stealing some cups of rice at Inikiri market.
The incident happened on Tuesday when the market was in session. The victim, who miraculously survived the fire incident, was said to have been facing severe hunger and difficulty after he lost his mother.
It was gathered that his father, who could have provided for his welfare, was suffering chronic mental illness and therefore unable to support him.
The kinsmen of young boy were said to have deserted him, which made him to resort to begging for and pilfering food items for survival.
A reliable source in the community told Sunday Sun that the victim’s hands and legs were tied by the two men before he was thrown into the raging fire at the refuse dump located at the back of the market to burn to death.
The source, however, said the victim survived the fire following intervention of sympathizers who brought him out of the fire and rushed him to a nearby hospital but he was rejected due to the severity of the burns on his body.
He was later taken to the Alex Ekwueme University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, where he is currently battling for life.
Reacting to the incident, the Chairman, Human Rights Defenders (HURIDE), Mr.Samson Nweke, condemned the callous and inhuman action of the two men, stating that what they did was against the law.
He vowed to pursue the matter to the logical conclusion and get justice for the victim.
Explaining how he learnt about the incident, Nweke said: “We got a call from Mr George Etamesor of the HRCRC over this grave abuse inflicted on this poor child. Because he was caught trying to steal some rice in their village market, he was tied up, thrown into burning fire in a refuse dump in the market and allowed to roast like a goat. The perpetrators, (names withheld by Sunday Sun), both men who hail from the village, after committing the evil, saw the critical condition of their victim, yet they abandoned him to burn to death. But some sympathizers intervened, rescued him from the raging fire and rushed him to AMURT Hospital in Effium. But the hospital refused to accept him because of the severity of the burns on his body, which it was equipped to handle. Efforts were thereafter made to bring him to AE-FETHA2 where he is currently battling between life and death.