A 42-year-old man, Samuel Sunday, has been apprehended by the police in Bayelsa State for allegedly poisoning his three children with a chemical substance known as sniper. Two of the children reportedly died while one survived but is currently recovering in the hospital. The account of the survivor provided the narrative around the bizarre incident: Sunday had allegedly engaged the services of his younger brother, Aya Preye, to brutalise and poison his own children. The children were reportedly railroaded into the bush, tied to trees and given sniper to drink! Their alleged offence was that they were wizards and responsible for their father’s undisclosed illness.
According to Sunday and his relatives, the children, products of a broken and dysfunctional home, had been bewitched by their estranged mother. And for that ludicrous reason sold to him and his relatives by a false prophet, Sunday decided to take the law into his own hands and mete out his own version of punishment to his children. The so-called prophet who said the children were wizards was apparently only exploiting the ignorance of the people. But even at that, why should parental love and care take flight so easily based on specious allegations against minors who can hardly be held accountable for their decisions and actions? Sadly, Sunday and his brother, Preye, administered jungle justice on the children even though the alleged ‘offence’ against the minors cannot withstand legal scrutiny. The suspects unabashedly took a precipitate action in a most dastardly and callous fashion. And even in the most unlikely event that the children were actually guilty of the ‘offence’ they were accused of, when did it become the place of a father or anyone else other than the court of law to apply sanctions?
Unfortunately, the children’s predicament reportedly started in September last year when their father was told the fallacious prophesy upon which he allegedly predicated his wicked and dastardly act. The children had since then reportedly been subjected to physical and psychological torture by him and his relatives. Perhaps if there had been some sane persons around them to urge a rethink of the unkind treatment of the children, this sad and deadly outcome would have been averted. It is indeed rather strange and saddening what the society has turned into. It will be recalled that some time ago, the Bayelsa State government cracked down on the witch-hunting of children in the state. The same happened in Akwa Ibom State where children were being brutalised by parents and relatives who went as far as burning their hands and feet under the guise of exorcising certain imaginary, evil spirits from them. Many of the children died in the process even if that was not the objective of their tormentors, but in the current case, Sunday clearly sought to murder his three children but succeeded in killing two.
It is regrettable that decadence has become so pervasive and entrenched in the society that not even blood or filial relationships are strong enough to prevent some persons from committing heinous crimes. Or what manner of man would poison his own children just because a false prophet told him they were responsible for his illness? This man deserves psychiatric evaluation, but so does the society that has become rather permissive of all kinds of atrocities. Had Sunday and his relatives had no social backing for their ignoble action, they would no doubt have reconsidered the murderous step they took. In this connection, it is fair to say that the society is just as sick as the suspects in this case and needs urgent attention before things get even messier.
It has indeed become imperative to focus more attention on the family, the microcosm of the larger society. Specifically, the issue of broken homes needs to be addressed. The rate at which marriages and homes fail in the country has become patently unsettling and should be arrested, otherwise the society itself promises to become even more dysfunctional and destructive sooner than later. There has to be deliberate efforts by various leadership forms, including government, religious and traditional institutions, to foster improved social relations and more cordial interactions in the family with a view to achieving more stable and functional family units. Families that produce fathers who rape their daughters and parents who murder their children and vice-versa, all of which are today commonplace, pollute the society and there is an urgent need to rein in the evolution of such family units.
Meanwhile, Samuel Sunday and his younger brother, Aya Preye, who is said to be at large, together with other accomplices in the commission of the heinous crime, no matter how remotely connected, should be made to face the wrath of the law. We urge that this case be handled swiftly and dexterously so that with the outcome, an unequivocal statement can be made especially to uncivilised and wicked parents that they have no right under the law to do whatever they like with their children.