An Uyo High Court in Akwa Ibom has sentenced a 36-year-old man, Monday Joshua Okon, to death for kidnapping a three-year-old girl from her school in Mbierebe Obio, Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of the state for sale in Aba, Abia State.
The presiding judge of the court, Justice Okon Okon, passed the judgement yesterday after finding the convict, Monday Joshua Okon, a native of Ekpene Ukpan in Nsit Ibom LGA guilty of his offence; hence he was condemned to death.
The convict, a married man with two children, was sentenced alongside one Cecilia Thompson Ebong, who helped him to hold the child inside a tricycle they boarded to the park of Akwa Ibom Transport Company (AKTC) in Uyo, where the baby was to be transported to Aba for a standby buyer.
He had confessed to the police that on July 20, 2018, he kidnapped the pupil during a graduation party in the school and kept her in his house in Ibesikpo Asutan for three days until when his wife advised him to return the girl to where he picked her from, but he didn’t listen to the wife’s advice.
Luck ran out of Okon on July 24, 2017, when on their way to AKTC motor park, a good Samaritan saw the child covered with a cloth inside a tricycle, and raised an alarm at Aka Road-IBB roundabout in Uyo, which led to the arrest of Okon and Cecilia Ebong, who claimed to be the grandmother of the victim.
Okon confessed that he was to deliver the child to an Igbo woman, 42-year-old Charity Nwachukwu, whom he said he had previously sold a male child to in 2017 and got N50, 000 as his percentage.
In his judgement, the judge ordered that Okon should die by hanging, while Cecilia Thompson Ebong, 44, a native of Ikot Offiong Nsit in Nsit Ibom LGA, was sentenced to five years in prison.
Justice Okon said: “It is unfortunate and depressing that people still indulged in the callous trade of human persons, particularly children despite efforts by the government to stem the ugly trend.
“The recourse to child buying and selling is appalling and indefensible, and no punishment will be excessive to deter people from such proclivity tendency.”
Justice Okon held that: “In count 1, the sentence of the court upon you, Monday Joshua Okon, is that you be hanged by the neck until you be dead and may God have mercy on your soul.”
The second accused, Cecilia Thompson Ebong, “is sentenced to five years imprisonment, and the sentence is to run concurrently.”