A Chief Magistrate Court, the Children, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Court, sitting in Awka, Anambra State capital, on Wednesday, sentenced one Faith Obi, aged, 32 years, and Chinenye Obete, aged 41 years, to multiple jail terms.
Obi and Obete were arraigned in court on a five-count charge bordering on child stealing, abduction of children and illegal dealing in children.
The defendants were also charged for fraudulently enticing and harbouring a seven-year-old boy, and forcefully isolating the child from the lawful possession of the parents, punishable under the Criminal Code, Laws of Anambra State of Nigeria, 1991, and the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition and Protection) Laws of Anambra State, 2017 respectively.
They were said to have committed the offence sometime in 2023 and during the hearing of the case, the convicts were given a grace period of two weeks by the court to produce the stolen baby, which they failed to do.
Delivering the judgment, the Presiding Chief Magistrate, Genevieve Osakwe, stated that the defendants had been found guilty of all the five charges brought against them.
The presiding Chief Magistrate noted that based on the oral testimonies of the defendants and the submissions of the plaintiff witnesses, as well as other materials placed before the court, in respect of the case; there were overwhelming pieces of evidence against the defendants, and the prosecutor had proved his case beyond reasonable doubts.
In sentencing the defendants, the Chief Magistrate slammed Obi and Obete, both four years imprisonment in count one; five years imprisonment in count two; five years imprisonment in count three; five years imprisonment in count four and a term of six months imprisonment in court five, and declared, however, that all the sentences would run concurrently, without any option of fine.
However, the convicts, Obi from Akpakumeze in Odi, Enugu State and Obete, from Ezamgbo in Ebonyi State, were arraigned before the court in 2023 and sentenced this year for committing the offences of abduction of children, illegal dealing in children and child stealing.
While reacting to the development, the Commissioner for Women and Social Welfare, Ify Obinabo, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the court judgment and warned intending offenders to leave the State as the present administration “will not hesitate to put them where they belong.”
Commissioner Obinabo also appreciated the efforts of the court in seeing that children are protected in the State and promised to do everything within her powers to bring the second suspect, now at large, to book.
BY SUNNY A. DAVID