[From INI BILLIE, Uyo]
An Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo has sentenced Mary Effiong, a mother of three, to 28 years in prison.
Effiong, an indigene of Ekpri Nsukara Offot, Uyo local government area, was said to have stolen two pupils of Saint Philip’s Primary School, Use Offot on November 12, 2018.
It was learnt that Effiong lured the 5 and 6 years old pupils with biscuits, claiming to be a friend to their mothers, and sold them in Osisioma Ngwa, Abia State.
In her extrajudicial statement, Effiong told the Police that she “went to the school and lured the two pupils following my agreement with one Blessing Sunday alias Mummy Vom from Osisioma Ngwa in Abia State who engaged me to look for children in Akwa Ibom and bring to her in Abia State.”
Narrating how they were lured, one of the children said in their evidence that the convict took them in a tricycle to Itam Market, where she bought them new clothes to change their school uniform.
The child said luck ran out of the convict when a man saw the convict in a bush undressing the children and raised an alarm, leading to her arrest.
The minor said the convict was taken to Saint Philip’s Primary School where the Headteacher identified them as her pupils, and denied knowing the convict.
In his judgement, Justice Okon Okon described the convict as an embarrassment to motherhood.
He said the fact that the convict left her own children to abduct other people’s children for financial gains, speaks volume of her wickedness.
The judge held that “but for providence, the accused would have succeeded to traffic the children from Uyo to Aba and ultimately sell them to a ready and willing buyer”.
The Court described Effiong as “a joy killer set to cause grief and inflict pains on other parents, while jealously protecting and guiding her own children.”
Justice Okon said “the conduct of the convict was abominable and despicable and the accused needed to be punished severely to serve as deterrent to others of her ilk in the illicit trade.”
He held that the sentence is to run concurrently.
Child stealing is punishable under Section 380 of the Criminal Code, Cap. 38, Volume 2, Laws of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, 2000.