She had always dreamt of furthering her education to the university level. Each time she saw anyone returning home from school, she would look at the person with admiration, imagining when it would be her turn.
Unfortunately, she was deprived of the privilege of finishing her secondary education, let alone proceeding to the higher institution, owing to her parents’ financial state.
Determined to actualize her dream at all cost, Joy Adoel, left her village in Ukpa Uju Local Government Area of Benue State, in January 2019, at the age of 18, for Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, where she worked as a maid with a family. By the way, she was the seventh child in a family of 11.
By January 2020, she left Ibadan for Lagos, for a better living condition, because she alleged that the woman who introduced her to the family she worked with, never paid her salary.
A relative, identified simply as Blessing, brought her to Lagos and introduced her to the Stevens in Bariga area of Lagos, on January 10, 2020, where she started working as a maid. The teenager was said to have planned to save some amount to register for the General Certificate of Education, GCE, later this year and the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board Examination, JAMB, next year, that is, if she passed the GCE.
She did not however live to see dream accomplished as her lifeless body was found dangling from the ceiling in her bedroom, on Monday, April 20, 2020.
Crime Guard learned that the previous day, April 19, 2020, she was beaten by her madam, Mrs Nene Steven. The visible marks of violence were still on her body, as at the time it was evacuated by the Police.
Though her employers said she committed suicide, the bereaved family was of the opinion that she could have been beaten to death.
Explaining what transpired between the day she was beaten and when she was found dead, Mr Steven told Crime Guard that “this is an unfortunate case. My wife did not kill Joy. She committed suicide by hanging herself.
“We live in a three-bedroom flat. Late Joy had her own room which also serves as a guest room. My wife has hers while I have mine which I share with my wife and two children of ages four years and seven months old respectively.”
“On Sunday, my wife asked her to go and spread a wet rag on the line. While taking it outside, my wife noticed she had another cloth with her. She collected the cloth from her, only to discover that Joy wrapped some noodles inside.”
“My wife asked her why she took the noodles without her permission. She decided to search Joy’s traveling bag to know if she hid anything belonging to her.”
“At the end of the search, she found two of her clothes. Joy sewed the clothes to her bag, making it difficult for anyone to remove them. When confronted, she maintained that the clothes were hers. That was what made my wife to beat her”
Asked what his reaction was when his wife was beating the maid, he said he intervened.
Continuing, he told Vanguard, “She was beaten in the afternoon of Sunday, April 19, 2020. By evening, I asked her if she had eaten she said no. I went to inform my wife, who told Joy to go and eat and take her bath. After having her bath, she retired to bed.”
“In the morning, my wife went to her room to wake her up and the next thing I heard was her shout of Jesus! She ran to my room to inform that Joy had hanged herself. I alerted neighbors who followed me to the Ilaje police division. I swear with my life, my wife did not kill her”.
But members of the deceased’s family were dissatisfied with the explanation as they claimed that their sister could have been beaten to death before being hanged to make it look like she committed suicide.
They argued that the room in which their late daughter’s body was found dangling, was in disarray, suggesting that there could have been some struggle and possibly a fight.
Also, the beddings on which she was said to have laid according to them, was too rough to believe someone as grown up as late Joy slept on it. They said her hair also looked ruffled.
Vanguard gathered that a table suspected to have been used by the maid to assist herself to tie a black rope from the roof to her neck was seen upside down, inside the bedroom with her legs touching the ground, instead of being suspended, as expected in any suicide case.
Though her tongue was stuck out of the mouth.
Report had it that late Joy initially opted to leave the house when the condition became unbearable.
This followed the termination of her appointment on April 10, 2020, as her madam expressed dissatisfaction over her service.
It was gathered that she was paid N10,000 as her salary for the month, last Saturday, with a directive to leave the house. But by the evening of that day, she was still sighted around the building and when asked why, she said she could not get a means of transportation to Oshodi, where she was supposed to meet with the agent as agreed, because of the lockdown.
Asked why her services were terminated, Mr Steven, replied, “We stopped her from work on April 10, 2020, because she was not meeting up to expectation. Her job was to bath our four-year-old baby, wash plates, clean the kitchen, and keep the house clean.”
She never went to the market and was not responsible for the cooking.
“Most times when she swept the sitting room, there would still be dirt under the chair, the stools would be dusty, as well as the dining table and the kitchen. Sometimes, she would leave our child’s potty with urine, until she would be told to throw it away.”
“When she told us she could not get a commercial bus to leave, we still accommodated her and told her she could leave after the lockdown.”
“During that period, she was not doing anything in the house. Even when my wife cooked, she would wait to be invited before taking the food.”
“At times she would not eat, she would go out to buy food with her money. At a point my wife confronted her, and asked her to reciprocate our kindness by assisting with some chores, even though her appointment as our maid had been terminated”.
Speaking with Vanguard, the deceased’s elder brother, John Adoel, who lives in Lagos, said no one was aware that she was in Lagos until she died.
On his part, his cousin, Mr Ejeh Philip Agwu, said no member of his family was contacted until late Joy’s body was taken to the morgue. He also disclosed that while the beating was on, the couple contacted the man who brought late Joy, to come and take her back.
According to him, “She was employed on January 10, 2020. Information given to us was that on April 20th, she committed suicide at Bariga. How that is possible is baffling.”
“When her madam was beating her, she called the agent that brought her to come and take her away from her house. The agent begged her to leave the girl alone, that he would have rushed down but for the lockdown.”
Next day, the couple called the agent again and said they needed full details of the girl. The agent said they should get it from her since she was old enough to speak for herself. It wasn’t until 11 am that they called to inform the agent that Joy had committed suicide by 7am.
“She told the agent that the corpse had been taken to the mortuary. She snapped the picture of the supposed suicide scene and sent it to the agent. They did everything on their own without carrying us along. So far the Police have begun an investigation. We are hopeful that justice will be done at the end.
Mrs Nene Steven has since been arrested and being detained at the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, SCIID Yaba. Crime Guard gathered that she was arrested alongside her husband by policemen at Bariga division, where they went to report a case of suicide. But the latter was released after his statement was taken.
Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Elkana Bala said “During the investigation, marks of violence were found on the body.
The body has been deposited in the mortuary and autopsy will be conducted to further ascertain the cause of her death, at the end of which the suspect will be charged to court”.