The Child, Sexual and Gender Violence Court in Awka, Anambra State has sentenced two women to multiple jail terms for child robbery and kidnapping.
The convicts, Faith Obi, 32, and Chinenye Obete, 41, were arraigned on five charges, according to a statement by Chidinma Ikeanyionwu, Press Assistant to the Commissioner for Women and Social Welfare in the state, Ify Obinabo, Thursday.
The charges were child theft, kidnapping and illegal trafficking of children, fraudulent enticement and harboring of a seven-year-old child, and forcible isolation of children from the legal possession of their parents.
The offences, according to the statement, are punishable under the Penal Code, Anambra State Laws of Nigeria, 1991, and Anambra State Violence Against Persons (Prohibition and Protection) Laws, 2017.
The statement does not mention when the sentence was handed down by the court.
While Mrs Obi, one of the convicts, hails from Akpakumeze in Ụdị Local Government Area of Enugu State, Mrs Obete, the other convict, hails from Ezzamgbo in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State , all in southeastern Nigeria.
The statement indicates that the convicts had appeared in court last year when they were given a two-week grace period to produce a stolen baby, but did not do so.
Judging the case, Chief Magistrate Genevieve Osakwe announced that the defendants had been found guilty of all five charges against them.
Ms Osakwe said that based on the oral testimonies of the accused, the prosecution’s witness submissions and other materials before the court regarding the case, there was overwhelming evidence against the accused.
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The chief magistrate said the prosecutor had proven his case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Consequently, he sentenced the two women to four years in prison each for the first charge; five years in prison for the second charge; five years in prison for the third charge; five years in prison for the fourth count and six months in prison for the fifth count.
All sentences will be carried out simultaneously without the option of a fine, the chief magistrate ruled.
The commissioner reacts
Responding, Mrs. Obinabo expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the court ruling and warned the alleged offenders to leave the state because the administration of Governor Charles Soludo does not tolerate such crimes.
The commissioner, according to the statement, praised the court’s ruling and said it will help ensure that children are protected in the state.
He vowed to “do everything in his power” to fish out and prosecute another unnamed suspect involved in the crimes.