By Clement James
What can make a father to sell his child? This is the question that troubles CLEMENT JAMES, leading to a chat with the mother of the missing two-year-old boy. The woman, Esther Moses, 24, insists that her husband, Moses Udoh Abraham, sold their son. Excerpt:
How did you meet your husband?
I was returning from a visit to my aunt’s place when I met Abraham in a taxi. He gave me his phone number.
A week later, he called and asked where I live; he asked me to meet him.
He waited for me at Mayne Avenue, by Uwanse. When I got there, he took me to his former compound, No. 8, Amika Utuk lane. It was there he impregnated me. I stayed with him until I had Elisha. I had him on July 4, 2015.
Are you aware he was married before you got pregnant for him?
I didn’t know. After I had Elisha, his wife, who is based in Uyo, came to the house. She quarreled with him. She asked him if he was not ashamed of impregnating a girl old enough to be his daughter.
She asked him what would happen to their four children and her, if he abandons them for me. She threatened him; she said there would be trouble if he didn’t send money to her and the children. Since then, he had been sending money to her. She even sent her second child to live with us. After he sold Elisha, his wife rushed to our house to pick their second child. She said she didn’t want him to sell him too.
Can you describe his character?
He drinks a lot; whenever he returns home, he picks quarrel with me. He would beat me. Sometimes, he uses machete to beat me. Last year, he chased my mother out of our house with a machete. Since then, my mother had refused to visit.
Did the two of you get married legally?
He has not paid my bride price. My mother always quarreled with me about it and had repeatedly asked me to leave him. She doesn’t like him. I told my mother that I loved the man.
How did you find out he sold Elisha?
On July 24, he told me that he would be travelling. I went to take my bath. Elisha was in the compound. After my bath, I asked for Elisha and a young boy told me he was outside. I ran outside, but couldn’t find him. At that point, I started crying and shouting. My husband’s brother living in the compound came out to ask what was wrong. I told him I was looking for Elisha.
Did Abraham tell you where he was going?
He said he was going to Akwa Ibom. He said he wanted to go and look for work there. When Elisha went missing, I called him; I asked if he left with Elisha, he said no. He said he left Elisha playing outside.
I shouted, cried and ran to my mother’s place. I told my mother that I suspected Abraham took Elisha.
That night, around 7pm, I called him. I told him I still had not seen our son. He shouted at me; he said I was talking nonsense. I quarreled with him on phone and told him point blank that he was the person that took my son.
Did he return home that Monday?
He didn’t. On Tuesday, around 6am, I called him again. He said he was returning from Calabar. One of our neighbours, Eka Mma Ete, advised me to go to police station. I told her I didn’t have money for a police case.
I finally went to Uwanse Police Station. When I got there, I lodged complaint and showed them Abraham’s picture. They asked me of his whereabouts. At the end of the day, I exchanged phone number with the policewoman. She said the moment I sighted Abraham, I should alert them. That same Tuesday, I called and lied to him that both I and my last child, who is two months old, were hungry. He said he was coming and switched off his phone.
What do you mean, ‘you have suffered much for Elisha’?
I did all sorts of odd jobs just to feed him. Abraham didn’t take care of us. Around10pm, I saw Abraham’s missed calls; I flashed him.
He didn’t response until 2am; he called back and started quarreling that I refused to pick his calls. He further claimed to have come to the house, knocking, that I refused to open the door. I told him he was lying.
On Wednesday morning, I called to find out where he was, he said he was coming back home. I ran and told his brother. We both stood by the road side, waiting for him. Around 11am, he came home; I went to him and started crying.
What did he say?
If he didn’t know anything about the missing child, he would have beaten me. He just stood there, saying nothing. He later went out with his brother. I ran out, held and begged him to return my son. But he still denied knowing the whereabouts of Elisha.
I went straight to the police station and told them that he was around.
I called my elder brother, Eteka, and told him that my husband was back, but didn’t return with Elisha. My brother told me to hold Abraham; he said I shouldn’t allow him to go. As I sat down to wait for my brother, I received a call from an unknown number.
The caller asked me if I was Esther Abraham, I said yes. The person said I was under arrest, that my husband just reported that he had not seen his child, which he left with me.
What did you do then?
I said I was the one who laid complaint at Uwanse Police Station. The man said I should come to the station, that they have arrested him. I ran to the station. This was happening around 1pm on Wednesday. The police asked my brother what he wanted; he told them to transfer the matter to the State Criminal Investigations Department (SCID).
Did they search him?
The policemen searched him and found more than N90, 000 on him. When they asked him where he got it, he said he worked for it. I told them it must have been the money he realised from selling Elisha.
I tried to hold unto him shirt he hit me with the handcuffs on his hands.
One of the policewomen threatened to kill him if he laid his hands on me. The DPO asked Abraham if he sold the child to an herbalist, he said no; he said that he sold him at Etinan, in Akwa Ibom. I told the DPO that right from when Elisha was born, Abraham didn’t like him. He used to beat him always.
Why does he hate Elisha?
He always accused me of sleeping with other men. So, when Elisha was born, he said he was not his; he said Elisha didn’t look like him. He said that my second child looked like him.
Why didn’t you leave with Elisha, knowing Abraham didn’t like him?
If I had attempted to take the child to my mother’s place, Abraham would have killed me. In fact, whenever I took Elisha to my mother’s place, he would go there to insult my mother and I. Last year, he came to my mother’s house, beat my mother and collected Elisha.
What do you want now?
All I want is my son. I want Elisha. I cannot allow my child to disappear just like that. Funny, up till date, he has not told me where he took my son to.