Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo has sentenced a mother of three, Mary Okon Effiong to 28 years in prison for stealing two pupils of Saint Philip’s Primary School, Use Offot for sale in Osisioma Ngwa, Abia State.
The incident occurred 12th November, 2018 when the convict lured the pupils, 5 and 6 years old with a biscuits, claiming to be a friend to their mothers.
In her statement, “Effiong had told the Police that she went to the school and lured the two pupils following her agreement with one Blessing Sunday alias Mummy Vom from Osisioma Ngwa in Abia State who engaged her to look for children in Akwa Ibom and bring to her in Abia State.”
One of the children narrated in evidence how the convict took them in a tricycle to Itam Market, where she bought them new clothes to change their school uniform.
Luck however ran out of her, when a man saw the convict in a bush undressing the children and raised an alarm, which led to her arrest and was taken to Saint Philip’s Primary School where the Head teacher identified the children as her pupils, who denied knowing the convict.
In his judgement delivered Tuesday morning, Justice Okon Okon described Mary Effiong, a native of Ekpri Nsukara Offot, Uyo, as an embarrassment to motherhood.
He said that 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 other 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.