An Abudu High Court in Edo State has sentenced a stepmother and two teachers to death by hanging for conspiracy and murder of her three-year-old daughter.
The convicts, Betty Stephen, Johnson Ogbeide and Nancy Aiwuyor, were said to have committed the offence on February 29, 2009 at Erhiborhibo village in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Geraldine Imadegbelo, said the prosecution led evidence to the fact that the stepmother of the victim gave the three-year-old girl to the teacher, Johnson Ogbeide, who in turn, gave her to his colleague, Nancy Aiwuyor to be sold for ritual purpose.
The court heard that the parents of the child left her in the custody of her stepmother and went to the farm that fateful day but that when they returned, they couldn’t find the child only for the stepmother to confess that she and the two other suspects stole the child.
Justice Imadegbelo also held that the prosecution had established that the child was sold for the sum of N1.5 million. The court heard that they cut off the girl’s nine fingers and shaved her hair as directed for the ritual.
The court held that seven years after the victim disappeared in the hands of the convicts without being found, it was safe to hold that the child was dead.
“In the instant case Exhibits B to D coupled with the evidence of the prosecution witnesses and in particular the confessional statement of the DW2 on how the ritual was to be performed and the disposal of the remains all support the proof of the prosecution’s case that the victim is dead.
“In the circumstances, the DW1, DW2 and DW5 cannot exculpate themselves from the disappearance and death of the deceased. The acts of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd accused persons which caused the death of the deceased were unlawful,” Justice Imadegbelo said.
The court also sentenced the convicts to 14-year-jail term each for the offence of child stealing.