The Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo has sentenced one Mary Effiong, a mother of three, to 28 years’ imprisonment for stealing two pupils of St. Philip’s Primary School, Use Offot, for sale in Osisioma Ngwa, Abia State.
It was gathered that the incident occurred on November 12, 2018, when the convict lured the then five- and six-year-old pupils with biscuits after claiming to be a friend of their mothers.
Effiong in her extrajudicial statement had told the police that she went to the school and lured the pupils following her agreement with one Blessing Sunday, alias Mummy Vom, from Osisioma Ngwa in Abia State, who engaged her to look for children from Akwa Ibom and bring to her.
One of the children narrated how the convict took them in a tricycle to the Itam Market, where she bought new clothes for them to change their school uniform.
Luck, however, ran out on her when a man saw the convict in a bush undressing the children and raised the alarm, which led to her arrest after which she was taken to the school, where the head teacher identified the children as her pupils.
Child theft is punishable under Section 380 of the Criminal Code, Cap. 38, Volume 2, Laws of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, 2000.
Delivering judgment on Tuesday, Justice Okon Okon described Effiong, a native of Ekpri Nsukara Offot, Uyo, 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 spoke volume of her wickedness.
The court held that “but for providence, the accused would have succeeded in trafficking the children from Uyo to Aba, and ultimately sell them to a ready and willing buyer.”
Justice Okon added, “The conduct of the convict was abominable and despicable, and the accused needed to be punished severely to serve as a deterrent to others of her ilk in the illicit trade.”
He subsequently sentenced her to 28 years’ imprisonment and held that the sentence would run concurrently.