A high court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, has sentenced a mother of three to 28 years in prison for child theft.
Mary Effiong, an indigene of Ekpri Nsukara Offot, Uyo local government area of the state, was convicted for stealing two pupils of Saint Philip’s Primary School, Use Offot, on November 12, 2018.
Effiong was said to have lured the pupils with biscuits, claiming to be a friend to their mothers.
She later sold them in Osisioma Ngwa, Abia State.
After she was caught, Effiong confessed to 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.”
Justice Okon Okon of the Akwa Ibom State High Court ruled that “the conduct of the convict was abominable and dispecable and the accused needed to be punished severely to serve as deterrent to others of her ilk in the illicit trade.”
Narrating how they were lured, one of the children said the convict took them in a tricycle to Itam Market, where she bought new clothes in order to allow them change their school uniform.
The child said luck ran out on the convict when a man saw her undressing the children in the bush 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 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.”
He held that the sentence would 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.