A Nigerian mother, Mrs. Oluremi Adeleye, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after her actions were deemed to have led to the death of an 8-month-old baby in Maryland, United States.
The 73-year-old, who broke down in court as she spoke through an interpreter, said: “It was a mistake. I did not want to kill that child.”
The US Prosecutors said Adeleye forced milk down the throat of 8-month-old Enita Salubi in Glenarden in October 2016, suffocating the child.
The incident, captured on a nanny camera, saw the defense team arguing that force-feeding was a common practice in Nigeria from where Adeleke came but she was found guilty of child abuse and second-degree murder in a bench trial.
The presiding judge, Karen Mason, while saying she did not believe Adeleye was an “evil-intentioned baby slayer,” expected her to have known that her actions could result in the death of the child.
Prosecutors said Adeleye was a live-in nanny at a couple’s home in Prince George’s County when the 8-month-old died on Oct. 26, 2016. She was asleep on a couch inside the house when the baby, who was in a walker, began crying and woke the nanny, police said.
Police said a video surveillance camera shows the nanny tried to feed the baby, but without success before pulling the baby from her walker, removing the nipple from her bottle and forcefully feeding her.
Adeleye poured “eight ounces of milk down the child’s throat in less than 30 seconds, essentially drowning her,” the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
The baby appeared to squirm and resist while being fed the first bottle, and then Adeleye forced the contents of a second bottle into her mouth, documents said. After the baby became unresponsive, Adeleye called the baby’s father, who dialed 911 as he raced home. Enita Salubi was rushed to a hospital, where she died.
Clifton Wanzer, a neighbor, said he saw the little girl’s father carry her to an ambulance. She was rushed to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Speaking on the incident, Susan Jeremy, a child expert based in Washington said forced feeding is a widespread childcare practice in Yoruba culture, saying the desire to feed children forces women to engage in forced feeding practice.
She described the death of the baby from the incident as unfortunate. “I did not expect the sentencing. I thought the Embassy of Nigeria should have also added their voice and try to get light sentencing for her,” she stated.
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