A 42-year old woman, Victoria Enwerem has been sentenced to multiple jail terms for allegedly stealing five children between the ages of 9, 7, 3, 10 and 8 years old in Onitsha, Anambra State.
Enwerem was arraigned before Chief Magistrate Court, the Children, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Court in Awka, Anambra State over a-3 count charge of conspiracy to steal children; fraudulently enticing away and habouring children, and forcefully isolating the children from lawful possession of their parents.
The offences are punishable under Criminal Code, Laws of Anambra State of Nigeria, 1991, and Violence Against Persons (Prohibition and Protection) Laws of Anambra State, 2017 respectively.
Delivering judgement on the case, Presiding Chief Magistrate, Genevieve Osakwe said the defendant was found guilty of the three charges brought against her.
She slammed the defendant 4 years imprisonment in count 1; 8 years imprisonment in count 2; and a term of 6 months imprisonment in count 3, declaring that all sentences would run concurrently, without any option of fine.
“Based on the the oral testimonies of the defendant herself and the submissions of the plaintiff witnesses, as well as, other materials placed before the Court, in respect of the case; there are overwhelming pieces of evidence against the defendant, and the prosecutor had proved his case beyond reasonable doubts,” she said.
According to the police prosecutor in the charge, Victoria Enwerem (Anosike) in September 2022, conspired with one Oluchi Ahamefula, now at large, to steal children at the popular MCC Junction, Onitsha, Anambra State, with a view to moving the children to an unknown destination.
He said luck however ran out on her as she was caught by officers of the Nigerian Police Force, who were on stop and search operation, at Oraifite in Ekwusigo Local Government Areas of the State.
“She was granted bail, but jumped bail and was later tracked and apprehended at a remote part of Ebonyi State, in possession of two other underaged kids who she allegedly stole from their parents.
“It was later discovered that she had continued her business of stealing children, while hiding in Ebonyi State,” he said.
Enwerem, while being arraigned before the Court, a second time, told the Court that her defence Counsel, one C. D. Nwaka-Ohuoha, Esq, deceived her, collected an undisclosed amount of money from her and informed her to stop going to Court, with promise that she, the defence Counsel would scuttle the case pending in Court and ensured that the defendant would never go to prison.
Visibly angry presiding Magistrate expressed sadness over defense Counsel’s deceptive attitude, describing it as unprofessional legal practice.
She further commended the Nigerian Police Force for their doggedness and commitment, especially, as it regards tracking and recapturing Victoria Enwerem, to face her trials.
She also urged the Women and Social Welfare Ministry, Awka, to as a matter of urgency, write to the Ministry of Women Affairs, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to ensure the Orphanage allegedly being managed by Enwerem was closed down.
Reacting, Anambra State Women and Social Welfare Commissioner, Hon Ify Obinabo expressed happiness over the speedy trial of the case, assuring her ministry’s collaboration with her Portharcourt counterpart to ensure the said Home was sealed off to save unsuspecting members of the public.
Appreciating efforts of the Court towards ensuring protection of children in the state, Obinabo promised to do everything within her powers to bring to book the fleeing accomplice.