A gang of five children aged between 12 and 14 have been caught at Idofin Elega, Abeokuta, Ogun State, for burglary.
The children allegedly scaled the gate into a shop in the community around 12am on Friday.
They reportedly carted away foodstuffs from the shop, but were caught by members of the Oodua People’s Congress in the area.
The kids were subsequently handed over to the police at the Adatan station.
A video clip of the incident was shared on Facebook by one Bola Alao-Ogbu on November 5.
While being questioned in Yoruba by residents, the children blamed their action on maltreatment and hunger.
None of them reportedly lived with their parents.
One Musa, who identified himself as the leader of the gang, said he fled from an Arabic school, where he lived, due to maltreatment.
He said his friend, Oloyede, brought the idea of the burglary.
Musa said, “Oloyede and I were passing by one day. He pointed at the shop and suggested that we should go at night to steal from the shop. Around 12am when people had slept, we entered the shop.
“My parents live in Ajegunle (a neighbouring community). They took me to an Arabic school in Isage. But my friend, Yinusa, and I were maltreated at the school and we fled. I have never had formal education.”
Oloyede said his mother was late and he lived with his paternal grandmother in the Itoku area of Ogun State.
Another kid, Yinusa, said he started living in the Arabic school after his mother died.
Another child, Tunde, stated that his father lived in Lagos, while his mother resided in Soyoye, Abeokuta.
He, however, said he lived with his grandmother.
The fifth child, Adeola, also said he was not living with his parents.
Social media users, who commented on the post on Facebook, said the children should not be blamed for the crime.
While some took a swipe at their parents, others attributed the misdemeanour to government’s indifference to the welfare of the poor.
One Idris Odunlami, wrote, “…If you listen to the children very well, you will see that none of them has a good parent. Their parents are separated, while some of them are staying with grandmas or alfas who have responsibilities to take care of. People just give birth to children they can’t take good care of.”
Another poster, Abiola Babatunde, also put the blame on the children’s parents, saying the suspects were products of broken homes.
A Facebook user, Yetunde Olanrewaju, said, “This is a result of broken homes and poverty in this country. If you can see these children, they are hungry; no parental care. They are just sleeping anywhere. Nigerian government, please do something to help these kids for better future.”
Adekunle Odebunmi said bad leadership and poverty were responsible for the children’s action, urging the government to channel the country’s resources towards the welfare of indigent children.
Austin Paul added, “They were neither thieves nor armed robbers. They were hungry and when they found that the shop was free to take what to eat, they got in. Unfortunately, they were caught. I blame the government. If every family in Nigeria is living well, no kid will think of taking what doesn’t belong to him or her. At 57 years, we are still hungry in Nigeria; what a shame on our selfish leaders.”
The Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Abimbola Oyeyemi, said the children had been taken to a juvenile centre for rehabilitation.
The PPRO advised parents not to shy away from their responsibilities by leaving their children in the care of others.
He said, “The children stole some packets of noodles in the shop and were brought to the station. But because they were juveniles, we didn’t detain them. They have been taken to a juvenile centre for proper care and counselling.
“Some other steps are also being taken so that the children will be useful to themselves in the future and they will not constitute a nuisance to the society. Parents should know that it is an offence to abandon their children.”
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