The Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, has sentenced Yunusa Dahiru (AKA Yellow), to 26 years imprisonment for child trafficking and sexual exploitation of Ese Oruru.
Ese was reportedly abducted by Dahiru in Bayelsa in 2015, taken to Kano State where she was allegedly forcefully married and impregnated by Dahiru.
Delivering judgement in the case on Thursday, Justice Jane Inyang, held that Dahiru was not guilty of count one which bothered on abduction.
The judge, however, found him guilty of child trafficking, illicit sex, sexual exploitation and unlawful carnal knowledge.
He was jailed five years in count two (Child trafficking), seven years in count three (illicit sex), seven years in count four (Sexual exploitation) and seven years in count five (Unlawful carnal knowledge).
The judge, however, held that the sentences should run consecutively, which means the convict will spend a maximum of 26 years in jail, except if he gets his conviction overturned by the appellate court.
The case of Dahiru and Ese generated a lot of reactions in 2015 when it was first reported.
Ese, the daughter of Mr Charles and Rose Oruru, who hail from Uwheru community in Ughelli, Delta State, was allegedly married off to Dahiru without her parents’ consent and subsequently impregnated.
While in Kano, Ese, who was 13 years old at the time, was reportedly converted to Islam and renamed Aisha.
Ese was later rescued by the police in Kano with a five-month-old pregnancy, allegedly belonging to Dahiru.
Yunusa, who appeared in court in handcuffs adorned in a green and white shirt and bathroom slippers, broke down in court after the judgment on Thursday.
He was heard murmuring that “I’m treated this way because I am a Muslim.”
Yunusa was arrested and arraigned at the Federal High Court, Yenagoa in 2016 in the suit number FHC/YNG/17c/2016 on a five-count charge of criminal abduction, illicit sex, sexual exploitation and unlawful carnal knowledge of a minor.
Part of the charges against Yunusa read: “That you, Yunusa Dahiru, a male, resident in Opolo-Eipie area of Yenagoa in Bayelsa State, conspired with the duo of Dankano Mohammed and Mallam Alhassan, between August, 2015 and February, 2016, to commit an offence of abduction and thereby committed offence punishable under section 27(a) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.”
Reacting over the judgment, counsel to the Oruru family and immediate past Vice-Chairman of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in Bayelsa State, Barr. Deme Pamosoo described the court decision as “Just judgment” and commended the judiciary for “doing its best to do justice to the matter”, noting that it will serve as a deterrent to pedophiles.
However, Yunusa’s defence counsel, Mr. Kayode Olaosebikan, expressed dissatisfaction over the ruling, saying if permitted by his client, he would lodge an appeal.
He said, “I am not comfortable with part of the judgment that the sentence should run consecutively which invariably means he will spend 24 years in prison (sic).
“If at all we want to appeal, that is the aspect we will pursue.
“It all depends on the client if he is ready to pursue the matter.
“Though, we had some challenges during the course of the trial:- there are six other witnesses we needed to have called.
“Two are residents of Bayelsa and four in Kano, but all of them were not available,” he said.