By Abimbola Ogunnaike
The Akwa Ibom State High Court presided over by Justice Gabriel Ette sitting in Uyo, the state capital, has sentenced three women: Enobong Nsikak Sunday, 38; Gertrude Thompson Akpan, 48; and Mary Okon James, 49; who specialized in the kidnapping and selling of children to death.
Justice Ette in his judgment on Friday, 3 June, 2023 found the trio guilty of conspiracy and kidnapping, punishable by death under Section 1 of the Akwa Ibom State Internal Security and Enforcement Law, 2009.
Sunday, a mother of two from Atiamkpat in Nsit Ubium Local Government Area of the state, was arrested after she the kidnapped a two-year old girl she met at a vigil in Ifa Atai, Uyo, “looking poor and hungry.”
According to her, she trailed the mother and child to their house in Ifa Atai and deceived her that she wanted to take the child to a hospital for treatment, not knowing that she had other ulterior motive.
On the way, Sunday confessed that she stopped and gave the mother of the child N5,000 to buy foodstuffs at the nearby Transformer Junction Market on Abak Road, Uyo, but the woman refused.
Not relenting, she said she returned to the woman’s house in Ifa Atai, where she successfully kidnapped the child.
The second convict, a native of Ikot Eyo in Nsit Ubium, Gertrude, said she made a profit of N500,000 per child she kidnapped and N200,000 for those brought to her for sale.
For Getrude, the last business which took her journey to the four walls of prison was two children, aged two years and ten months, she kidnapped on 16th December 2018 at Abak Road, Uyo, after deceiving their mother that the wife of the immediate past Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Martha Udom Emmanuel was empowering the poor and that she will take her to the First Lady for help.
Also, Mary Okon James, a native of Obotim in Nsit Ibom, who bought one of the children at N200,000 and sold at N500,000 in Aba, was convicted.
According to Ette, confessional statements of the accused persons link each other and firmly established that they constitute a sophisticated syndicate for their infamous trade.
“For a woman to have gone to that extent, it means she has sealed her conscience with a hot iron and thereby become a threat to civilized society as every child is her potential victim. You have, by your conduct, disqualified yourself from continuing to walk free in organized society as every child is your potential victim.
“Mary Okon Bassey, a native of Obotim village in Nsit Ibom Local Government, it is your claim that you joined the trade of kidnapping and selling other people’s children in January, 2017. You also claimed to have sold two female children in Aba before nemesis caught up with you. This you did with no human empathy and not minding what fate awaits your innocent victims and what arrow you have caused to pierce the hearts of their hapless parents. You did this so you may live big and comfortably.
“How did you feel when you took two children from the same mother in your journey to selling them off for filthy lucre? You had caused your innocent victims sleepless nights, though providence smiled on her for her children to be recovered. You are a pest to society and not fit to walk the earth like a free woman again ever. You, in your life time chose to walk the pathway of crime and today, you will reap your reward. Those who murder sleep, do not deserve to dream. I find you guilty and the sentence of this Court on you is that you be hanged on your neck until you be dead and may the Lord have mercy on your soul,” the trial judge held.