ESE Oruru, the Delta State teenager, who was abducted in 2015 at the age of 14 and impregnated by a man from Kano State, Yunusa Dahiru, got justice on Thursday at the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
The court, presided over by Justice Jane Inyang, convicted Yunusa (aka Yellow) and sentenced him to 26 years in prison for his criminal actions against Oruru.
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, launched free-Ese-Oruru campaign. This led to her rescue by the police in February 2016, and she was brought back to Yenagoa in 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.
On March 21, the first trial judge, Justice Aliya Nganjiwa, granted him bail in the sum of N3 million with two sureties in like sum. Justice Inyang acquitted the accused on count one but found him guilty on counts two, three, four and five.
The judge sentenced Dahiru to five years in prison on count two and to seven years each on counts three, four and five, saying the sentences would run consecutively. She held that the failure of the defence team to produce Abdullahi Zarafat was “fatal to the defence”.
The lawyer to the defendant, Kayode Olaosebikan, pleaded with the judge to temper justice with mercy and give liberal sentence to the accused person. Dahiru, who wore prison attire, broke down in tears after emerging from the court.
Following the verdict, Olaosebikan said the defence was 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 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 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 (DSP) from the Force Headquarters in Abuja, 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 deterrent to other paedophiles.