A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, has sentenced Yinusa Dahiru to 26 years in prison for abducting and forcing a teenager, Ese Oruru into marriage.
Oruru was reportedly abducted and taken to Kano State and forced into marriage – a union that later produced a baby.
Delivering the judgement, Justice Jane Inyang acquitted Dahiru on count one but jailed him five years (count two), seven years (count three) seven years (count four) and seven years, count five. The sentences would run concurrently.
Ese’s misfortune which attracted global outrage occurred on August 12, 2015, when Yunusa abducted her at the age of 14 from her family house at Opolo area of Yenagoa and took her to his home state, Kano, where he converted her to Islam.
The convict also forced her into marriage and impregnated her.
The minor through the efforts of a civil society group, Kindling Hope Across Nations Initiative (KHAN) led by Kizito Andah, who launched the free-Ese-Oruru campaign, was rescued by the police in February 2016 and brought back to Yenagoa in early March.
She was delivered of a baby girl in May 2016 while Yunusa was arraigned on March 8, 2016, at the Federal High Court on a five-count charge of criminal abduction, illicit intercourse, sexual exploitation and unlawful carnal knowledge of a minor.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge read to him in pidgin English, but on March 21, the first trial judge, Justice Aliya Nganjiwa, granted him bail in the sum of N3m with two sureties in like sum.
But Inyang in her ruling acquitted the accused on count one but found him guilty on counts two, three, four and five.
She sentenced Dahiru to five years in prison on count two and seven years each for counts three, four and five saying that the sentences would run consecutively.
The judge held that the failure of the defence team to produce one Abdullahi Zarafat was “fatal to the defence.”
The lawyer to the defendant, Kayode Olaosebikan, appealed to the judge to temper justice with mercy and give liberal sentence to the accused person.
Dahiru, who wore prison attire, broke down into tears after emerging from the court.
Speaking after the judgement, Olaosebikan said that they were not comfortable with the aspect of ruling that the sentence should run consecutively.
He said: “Though I’m not comfortable with the part of the judgment that said the sentence should run consecutively, we had some challenges during the course of the trial.
“There were six other witnesses we needed to have called in this matter, two of them are resident here (in Bayelsa), four of them in Kano, but none of them was available.”
Olaosebikan said that his client could appeal the judgment, especially because part of it ruled that the sentence should run consecutively.
In his reaction, the prosecution lawyer, Samuel Njoku, a Deputy Superintendent of Police from the Force Headquarters, expressed delight at the judgement describing it as “naked and simple justice”.
A former Vice-Chairperson of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in Bayelsa State, Deme Debra Pamosoo, said the judgment would serve as a deterrent to other paedophiles.
She said: “The judgment has sent a strong message to serve as a deterrent to paedophiles of underaged children. The judiciary is fair in the judgment given.”
The father of the victim, Charles Oruru, said he was excited that the five-year case ended in their favour.
He said: “I’m very happy and grateful because I see that all my suffering is not in vain. This case will serve as a deterrent to others who traffic people’s children. I thank God that truth has prevailed. I and my family are very happy.”