Victoria Enwerem (Anosike), 42, was sentenced to multiple prison terms by a Magistrate Court in charge of Children, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Awka, Anambra State.
Enwerem was charged with three counts of conspiracy to steal children, fraudulently enticing away and harboring children, and forcibly isolating children from their parents, all of which are 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.
The five stolen children ranged in age from three to ten years old.
The presiding Chief Magistrate, Genevieve Osakwe, stated in her judgment on Wednesday that the defendant had been found guilty of all three charges brought against her.
The presiding chief magistrate, therefore, stated that based on the oral testimonies of the defendant herself and the submissions of the plaintiff witnesses, as well as other material placed before the court, in respect of the case, there were overwhelming pieces of evidence against the defendant, and that the prosecutor had proved his case beyond reasonable doubts.
In sentencing the defendant, Her Worship, Genevieve Osakwe, slammed on Enwerem, four years imprisonment in count one; eight years imprisonment in count two; and a term of six months imprisonment in court three, and declared, however, that all the sentences would run concurrently, without any option of fine.
According to the police prosecutor who prosecuted the case, Enwerem 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 of moving the children to an unknown destination, but luck ran out on her, when she was caught by officers of the Nigerian Police Force, who were on a stop and search operation, at Oraifite in Anambra state.
She was apprehended, later granted bail, but jumped bail and was later tracked and apprehended again in a remote part of Ebonyi state in possession of two other underaged kids, whom she allegedly stole from their parents. It was later discovered that she had continued the business of stealing children while hiding in Ebonyi state.
However, when Enwerem was arraigned before the Court, a second time, she told the court that her defence Counsel, one C.D. Nwaka-Ohuoha, Esq, deceived her, by collecting 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 ensure that the defendant would never go to prison.
Visibly angry, the presiding Magistrate described the attitude of the defence counsel as an “unprofessional legal practice.”
The Chief Magistrate further commended the Nigerian Police Force for their doggedness and commitment, especially, as it regards tracking and recapturing Enwerem to face the law.
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 see that the orphanage home, allegedly being managed by Enwerem, is closed down.
Reacting to the news, the Anambra State Women and Social Welfare Commissioner, Mrs Ify Obinabo, expressed happiness over the speedy trial of the case, and assured that the Ministry would work with her counterpart in Port Harcourt, to ensure that the said orphanage home is sealed off, to save unsuspecting members of the public.
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.