Nigeria: Absence of Judge Stalls Trial of Suspected Kidnappers

12 November 2019

The magistrate court in Aba has adjourned the trial of the suspected kidnappers of a toddler, Chismidiri Obilor.

In September, PREMIUM TIMES reported how some of the suspects were allegedly shielded from trial four years after the crime was perpetrated.

The court was to sit on the November 7 but the presiding magistrate is in Kaduna for an official assignment and will not be back till December.

Although Agbai Obasi, the prosecution counsel assigned to Chisimdiri's family from the ministry of justice, declined comments since Thursday, it was gathered that the case has been adjourned till December 18.

The victim's mother, Chinwendu Obilor, also confirmed the date in a telephone interview with this reporter on Monday evening.

Background

In January 2015, Chisimdiri, who was only two years and two months old, was abducted from their residence in Aba South Local Government Area of Abia State, by a stranger identified as Nwachukwu Chidubem.

However, since 2015 when Chisimdiri was abducted in a chain of human transfers by traffickers, the culprits are yet to be brought to book neither has the kid been found, although the main kidnappers were arrested.

After arrest, Mr Chidubem confessed to selling the child to a self-acclaimed Reverend Father, Johnmary Ihuneze, who operates an orphanage in Anambra State.

Mr Ihuneze was also arrested by the police in January 2016 but was later granted bail.

He refused to attend six court sittings held after his release in December 2018 while Mr Chidubem has been remanded in Aba Prisons.

PREMIUM TIMES' investigation revealed that against the claims that the supposed cleric has been abroad for medical treatment, he is currently in Nigeria while his orphanage is in operation.

The orphanage, named Mary's Perpetual Help Foundation/Children's Home, is situated along Umusiome road, Nkpor Agu, Idemili North local government area of Anambra State.

Also, the orphanage, although registered with the ministry of women affairs in Anambra state, has a controversial registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

'Mobilisation fee' to arrest the Reverend father

Two months after PREMIUM TIMES provided information of the whereabouts of the Reverend father, the police are yet to apprehend him.

Nwabekee Nnamdi, a human rights lawyer who promised to take up the case in September, disclosed that facilitating the arrest of Mr Ihuneze has been a herculean task because the police demand 'mobilisation fee' to fuel their vehicle to Anambra and other expenses.

He spoke with PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday afternoon expressing optimism in pursuit of justice.

This was confirmed by Mrs Obilor, who stated that she is trying to raise N30, 000 for the police to work.

She had earlier told this reporter that when the police arrested the 'Reverend Father' in 2016, she was responsible for the 'mobilisation fee'.

Several past attempts by the family to get justice - including petitions addressed to the Abia State Commissioner for Police, Ene Okon, were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, when this reporter contacted Mr Okon on Monday, he directed the family to the anti-kidnapping department of the police in Umuhaia, Abia capital. "Tell the family to go to the OC anti-kidnapping in Umuhaia," he said.

He however feigned ignorance when this reporter probed him on the demand for 'mobilization fee' allegedly made by the officers. "What is mobilization fee?" Mr Okon queried and hung up the call when this reporter told him what the fee was meant for.

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