Refugee Father Uses Daughter As Collateral For N600,000 Loan

December 30, 2014 9:36 am
                                                           Mary  and father Edt Okon
You read some stories and just wonder why. This is the story
of a fisherman, Edet Okon who had fled his ancestral home in Efut Obot Ikot in
the ceded Bakassi Peninsula in March 2013 when Cameroonian gendermanes attacked
the village in which a lot of indigenes lost their lives and scores sustained
varying degrees of life-threatening injuries. This led Edet Okon and his family
to a dusty village in Akwa Ikot Eyo Edem, Cross Rivers State where there story
even went worse.
Shortly after they began living as a refugee
there, Edet discovered
his first daughter was down with blood cancer and he didn’t want her to
juts
die unattended too. So he decided to use his 12-year old daughter, Mary
as collateral to borrow N600,000 from a man in calabar. The girl later
died, and
19months after, he is yet to pay the said money, which has made Mary to
be
living in agony with her father’s creditor. Continue below to read the
rest of
the story as reported by Punch.

His daughter now a collateral
Okon, who joined our correspondent on a tour of the
overcrowded refugee camps, appeared less bothered about the life of squalor
they now lead.
The fisherman lost his first daughter, Blessing, to the cold
hands of death in September 2013, after battling with blood cancer for five
months.
But Okon’s agony did not end with Blessing’s death. Indeed,
he now lives in the pool of the anguish of a man who has to practically sell
his child into slavery. To raise funds for the series of medical tests, drugs,
feeding and hospital bills incurred by Blessing, he opted to secure loans from
someone to save her dying daughter.
With no property to guarantee the loan, Okon gave up his
second daughter, Mary, as collateral to secure the sum of N600, 000 given to
him in installments.
Our correspondent gathered that the creditor is a civil
servant based in Calabar.
“I was desperate to save Blessing from dying. Her situation
had become critical at that time. That was the only thing I could do to salvage
the situation. I am heartbroken,” Okon said, as his voice faded off, breaking
down in tears.
As tears rolled down his cheeks, he recalled the day he
‘sold’ her daughter into servitude.
“I don’t know what came over me. It was sheer desperation I
gave out my daughter so that the man would accept to give us the money,” Okon
added, fighting back regrets of what many are likely to regard as condemnable.
Ufot
Our correspondent reached out to the intermediary, Daniel
Ufot. He helped Okon to negotiate the N600, 000 loan from the creditor. On
getting to the residence of the 59-year-old Ufot, who lives some five
kilometres away from the camp, our correspondent found Mary in his residence.
Ufot explained that some plain-cloth security operatives
keeping watch on the camp had asked him to bring Mary from Calabar to meet with
his father who he had not seen in 19 months.
“I do not know Okon from Adam. But since I’m an expert in
money lending, I offered to help him after having learnt of his predicament on
how he had been battling to save the life of his daughter.
“But unfortunately, he could not provide any form of
collateral to secure the loan. But the creditor, in his magnanimity, agreed to
have her daughter as collateral since she was the only valuable ‘thing’ he
could offer,” Ufot said.
In a chat with this correspondent, Mary, who was a junior
secondary school 2 pupil before they left Bakassi in March, 2013, has since
dropped out of school following their displacement from the oil rich peninsular.
She shared horrible tales of inhuman treatment in the hands of her father’s
creditor.
Every morning, Mary hawks bottle water on the streets of
Calabar, where, incidentally, Mary Slessor stopped the killing of twins.
Observers may also spot the irony in the name of the legendary missionary and
the enslaved Mary Okon. She added that on any day she failed to exhaust the
sales of her wares, her new guardians descended heavily on her, beating her
mercilessly in the process.
“The man my father is owing has three female children and
some other relatives are also putting up with us in the house. They normally
give me a revenue target of N1, 000 daily.
“And sometimes when the market is bad and I don’t finish
selling the water, they beat me up. They treat me very badly. I eat only once
in a day and that is in the morning.
“I wash all their clothes, including the ladies’ pants, and
do other house chores, too. And if I hesitate on washing their pants, they get
infuriated and throw objects at me at will. I will not feel happy if I go back
there,” she narrated.
Yet, Ufot insisted that he only brought Mary to meet with
his father as a respite since he had not set his eyes on her for about 19
months.
“There are no signs that they would be repaying the loan. I
only obeyed the instruction of the security men. She will be on her way back to
the creditor’s place in Calabar,” Ufot said.
When contacted, the Refugee Camp Leader, Etim Ene, confirmed
to our correspondent on the telephone on Monday that Mary has indeed returned
to the creditor in Calabar.
Ene said, “Mary has been taken to the creditor’s house in
Calabar South. He was taken away by the guarantor, on December 2.”
Efforts by our correspondent to trace the address of the
creditor, whose name is given as Asuquo Etim, said to be residing on Atimbo
Road, Calabar South Local Government Area, was abortive. The creditor is said
to be an employee of the Cross River State Urban Development Agency.
Ufot had earlier refused to allow Mary to travel with our
correspondent to her master’s residence for fear of the unknown.

Mary’s mother was away in the farm during a visit by The
Punch.

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