Onome Oruru, Ese’s immediate elder brother, tells ARUKAINO UMUKORO that his sister’s actual age is 14
How old are you?
I am 16 years old. I was born on Nov 23, 1999.
How did you know?
Because my mother told me so and that is the date I celebrate my birthday every year. I just graduated from secondary school last year here in Bayelsa State, at the age of 16. All my peers are in my age bracket. I am certain of my age because I am old enough to know. Ese and I attend the same school. She was in JSS3 last year when she was taken away.
What will you tell people who claim your sister is 17, and not 14 years old as your mother has said?
It is funny that these people are saying all sorts of things about my sister and her age. Everybody can see it, it is clear. I can’t be 16 years old, and my younger sister will be older than me. How can she be 17 years old, when my immediate elder sister, will clock 19 years old on March 7 this year? We all have about two years’ age difference in between. Ese clocked 14 on February 22.
How did you celebrate her birthday?
Some people came to encourage us. We were happy, but we were sad that our sister was not there with us on her birthday.
Do you know the man who took your sister away?
Yes, Yinusa is one of these normal Hausa guys around. We usually call them aboki; they sell things in our area.
Did he look like someone who could abduct your sister?
Not at all; he looked very innocent and went about his business without complaint. When I heard he was the one that abducted my younger sister, I was very shocked and surprised.
If you look at his face, he looks like someone who cannot hurt a fly, and he was sometimes playful. I didn’t believe he could do such a thing. Everybody in the compound knew him because he used to supply water before he became a keke Marwa (tricycle) rider.
Some people also claim that your younger sister said she does not want to come back home to Bayelsa, but that she wants to stay in Kano.
I do not believe them at all. Even if she said that as they claim, then it means they are the ones manipulating her to say such things, because Ese that I know cannot say such a thing.
Ese is that kind of person that does not even want to become a Muslim at all; she would not even dream of it. In school, she was one of the strongest Scripture Union members; I know her very well. Then, she also used to tell me to come and join the SU. She did evangelism during break time most times.
What kind of person is your younger sister?
Ese is still a small girl and cannot decide many things for herself. Ese cannot even wash clothes very well. She likes singing and she was a chorister in the church. She likes preaching and praying. She used to preach to me and my friends. All those things they are saying she said are not true; they are manipulations by those people. I am sad about all of this. I just want my sister back home.
‘We’ll believe Ese is free when we see her’
The parents of 14-year-old Ese Oruru have dismissed says their daughter is 18 years old, and not 14.
Ese had been abducted in August 2015 by one Yinusa, aka Yellow, who was a longstanding customer of her mother, Mrs. Rose Oruru, a food vendor in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
Yinusa took Ese, who was 13 years old at the time, to Kano where she was allegedly converted to Islam and forcefully married.
Subsequent efforts by her parents to get her released, including a visit to the Emir of Kano’s palace, had met a brick wall.
In an interview with our correspondent on Monday, Ese’s mother, Rose, said her daughter was forced to lie about her age because she had been manipulated by her abductor, Yinusa, and other elements working with him.
“We do not have an official birth certificate because Ese was born in a nursing home on February 22, 2002, in Opolo, Bayelsa State. We did not have money to go to a regular hospital.
“Ese’s immediate elder sibling, Onome, a boy, was born in November 23, 1999. I always write the date of birth of all my children down,” she told our correspondent on the telephone.
Rose said she had, on the advice of a non-governmental organisation, gone ahead to swear an affidavit to authenticate Ese’s age.
In the same vein, Ese’s father, Charles, said his daughter was 14 years old.
He told our correspondent that the people that claimed that his daughter was 18 were trying to gain sympathy.
He said, “They are all lies. My daughter is 14. They know that Nigerians are now against them and they want to do everything to cover up their crime and make us look like fools. My daughter will never say a thing like that.”
Charles said he would not believe his daughter had been freed until he saw her.
He said, “I went to see the Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa today, and he said my daughter would be released this week. He said when the Emir of Kano returned from his travel, they would release my daughter to the Inspector-General of Police. I was happy, but skeptical because they have said the same thing before, and they did not free my daughter. I won’t believe anything until I see my daughter, Ese, in person. For now, it is still a probability.”
Also, Rose said she would not believe that her daughter had been released as claimed until she saw her.
She said, “We have been hearing different rumours, but I won’t believe any of them until I see my daughter. When we went to Kano, the Emir said something about her being released to us, so why should I believe them this time?
But I will be happy to see my daughter back home with me and safe.
The Orurus also expressed gratitude to PUNCH for the campaign to get their daughter released.
“Without PUNCH and the NGO, many Nigerians won’t have known what is happening.
“I thank them a million times and all Nigerians for their prayers and support. I pray that what happened to my daughter will not happen to any of their children,” she said.