“I won’t release her until they pay my money,” Etim who collected child as debt collateral tells Punch correspondents

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Mary’s father, Okon, a Bakassi refugee, secured a N600k loan from Asuquo Etim in 2013, with a view to saving the life of his first daughter, Blessing, who was diagnosed with blood cancer. Blessing, however, died in September 2013. Etim took Mary, 12, as a
collateral for the loan. At his residence on Orok Effiom Street, off Atimbo Road, Calabar, Cross River State, Etim, who described himself as a contractor working for the Calabar Urban Development Agency, said:

“I gave Okon my money and even my wife, who pitied their condition gave out part of her business capital to him. And because they didn’t have any property, they used Mary as collateral for the loan. But as you can see, I am also facing financial problems now.

That is why my family relocated from the 3-bedroom flat we used to stay to this 1-room apartment. We don’t have money to fend for ourselves anymore and that is why Mary has to sell small-small things like bottled water, garri and palm oil to feed the family.

I don’t have any plan for her to go to school because I don’t have money. She will not reunite with her parents unless her father repays the loan.” Mary on her part said: “When I go out to sell palm oil, I will not return until 7pm. I really want to reunite with my family again and see if I can still go to school.

I will love to become a lawyer when I grow up.” Her family reside at Bakassi refugee camp inside St. Mark Primary School, Akwa Ikot Eyo Edem, Cross River State…… If d state government and other well meaning NGOs don’t intervene, Mary might continue hawking till year 2145…..

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