Blessing Ugbe was a happy 14-year-old girl until some herdsmen invaded some farmlands in her village in Keana Local Government Area, Nasarawa State in 2018, shooting anyone in sight and destroying the farmlands.
By the time the dust raised by the invasion settled, Blessing’s 49-year-old father Ugbe Iornonge, her mother Mamakor and her eldest brother Kenneth lay dead.
Also dispatched into early graves were her immediate elder sisters, Mary and Esther, who until their gruesome death were pupils of Science Secondary School Lafia.
Providence had saved Blessing from the cruel fate that befell her parents and siblings on the bloody day as they had asked to stay back and keep watch over the home.
With her parents dead and buried the reality of a new life, that of a lonely, hapless and helpless teenager, dawned on her, and she prayed for God’s mercy.
It was as if her prayers were answered when a few days later, one of her father’s relatives, Monday Ukuma, a farmer and trader, took her to Agbakuma village in Obi Local Government Area of the state, where he was resident. But her joy of a new life evaporated like smoke shortly after she arrived at Agbakuma.
The young, fragile and frightful young girl soon became an object of sexual abuse for 42-year-old Aondona Akaa, also a victim of herdsmen/farmers clashes, who had relocated from Benue state and taken refuge in her new found guardian’s home. It did not take long before the man, who she now refers to as her husband, impregnated her.
Although Aondona Akaa, who she later discovered was her beneficiary’s friend, had warned her against revealing what transpired between them, the situation became increasingly unbearable until she was left with no option but to let the cat out of the bag.
Rather than sympathise with the hapless teenager, her guardian was said to have arranged for a medical examination to confirm her pregnancy, after which he allegedly forced her to marry his friend.
Left with no choice in the circumstance, Blessing was compelled to do the bidding of his beneficiary, getting married to Akaa and giving birth to a baby boy sometime in 2019.
It turned out that a few months later, her guardian Ukuma died in an auto crash on Makurdi Road, marking the beginning of another round of trouble.
In May 2020, Akaa, the father of Blessing’s child, who could no longer cope with his responsibilities as a husband and father because his friend, Ukuma, who had been his pillar was no more, bolted from the village and has since remained incommunicado, worsening Blessing’s pains and sorrow.
Now aged 16, Blessing, who had since relocated from Obi LGA to Makurdi Road in Lafia, hawks fruits for her survival as well as the survival of her little boy.
Recalling how cruel fate had been to her in a conversation with our correspondent, Blessing said: “After my father, mother and siblings were all wiped out by herdsmen and I was taken away to Obi by my father’s relation, we had a small room in the house where Akaa stayed.
“He had equally been displaced by herdsmen and all his relations were killed in Benue State. His three children and wife were also killed during the attack in Benue.”
“One day when everybody had gone out, he invited me into his room and said, ‘Do you know that you are a very beautiful girl?’ I said yes.”
He then went to a nearby shop and bought some biscuits and clothes for me.
“Initially, I was happy for the gift he brought for me because I did not understand what he meant. He opened the biscuit for me and insisted that I should come close to him. As I was eating, he started touching my breasts and I was like, ‘Uncle, what are you doing?”
“But he continued to press, and before I knew it, he had slept with me against my wish. I was in pains for days with blood rushing out. But he warned me not to reveal what happened to anyone.”
“I started crying, but he insisted that I should not tell anybody about it. He also promised that he would take me to the hospital for treatment.”
“About one week later, he did same thing again and it continued until one month after, I did not understand what was happening to me. I later discovered that I was pregnant.”
“One day, I decided to open up to Mr Monday (Ukuma) who I was staying with. He asked his wife to examine me, and we went to a pharmacy where a test that was carried out showed that I was pregnant. That was when I revealed everything to them, because I had stopped going to school since the death of my parents.”
“Mr Monday forced me into marrying his friend, Aondona Akaa, who had also been displaced by herdsmen in Benue. I didn’t know him from anywhere and I had not been to his village in Benue.”
“I was there with them and Akaa became my husband. I later gave birth to a baby boy.”
“A few months after I was delivered of the baby, Monday, with whom I lived and was the breadwinner of the family, providing for me and my husband who had nothing, having lost all his people in Benue and was starting a fresh family with me, died in an accident.”
“His death marked the beginning of big trouble for me as my husband disappeared a few months after, and up till now, I don’t know his whereabouts. Neither do I know his place in Benue, because he never took me there.”
“Life became unbearable for me and the family Monday left behind, so I decided to leave the village for Lafia where I started doing menial jobs in a restaurant to take care of my little boy.”
“I was working in one restaurant along Shamdan Road and my salary was N7000 a month. The work was too stressful for me, so I complained to the Madam that I could not continue with it and she accepted.”
“I started selling cooked corn, but getting fresh corn now is difficult. I have resorted to selling oranges in the park.”
“My late parents promised to give me the best of education within their reach before their unfortunate demise.”
“My biggest challenge now is that I cannot trace the roots of the father of my son. But I hope and pray that God will touch his heart wherever he is to come back to us.”
@ The Nation