The Centre for Justice, Empowerment & Development (C4J), the Rivers State Response Team on Violence Against Women & Children, as well as other civil society organizations have demanded the immediate re-arrest of Chinyere Ohanyere, popularly known as Madam Chichi, by the Imo State Police Command over the case of alleged child trafficking against her, and her suspected accomplice Ngozi Egbuson Ebuzoaju.
The Civil Society groups also called on the Imo State Commissioner of Police, Hussaini Rabiu, to ensure professionalism, due diligence and speedy investigation of the matter as returned to the State Police Command by the Office of the Imo State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice.
Coordinator of the Rivers State Response Team on Violence Against Women and Children, Tombari Dumka-Kote, made the position of the groups known, in reaction to the statement credited to the office of the Imo State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Cyprian Akaolisa and published in some national and online dailies Tuesday, stating that “the state government had ordered the Imo State Police Command to begin a fresh investigation in a case of trafficking of two children in the state”.
Dumka-Kote who spoke to newsmen today at the Justice Chuckwudifor Oputa Court Complex, during the resumed hearing on the matter at the Magistrate Court 3 and High Court 10 respectively in Owerri, Imo State, quoted the Imo State Attorney-General as saying the return of the case files to the Police was for a holistic investigation to be carried out.
The human rights activist however said the failure of the police to produce the woman who allegedly sold the children to the nurse, Ngozi Ebuzoaju Egbuson, nor the mothers of the children should not be used as an excuse why suspects that are found to have been involved in a heinous crime of human trafficking should not be prosecuted by the state.
He called on the Commissioner of Police, Imo State Command to resist been intimidated and blackmailed into covering up the findings of their investigation, and go ahead to make public and available to the courts, the original written and audio confessional statement of Ngozi Ebuzoaju Egbuson while in Police Custody.
“This way, the state Police Command would free itself from the complicity and issue of poor investigation now beclouding the case in court”, Dumka-Kote stated.
On her part, Maureen Udeagha, Head, Communication/Child Rights Officer at the Centre for Justice, Empowerment & Development (C4J) said the Imo State Attorney-General have always been quick in dishing out blames since his move to withdraw the case from court and stop the prosecution of suspects was rejected by civil society groups that raised the alarm that such a move will dent the image of Governor Hope Uzodinma’s administration.
Udeagha said in the phase of the recent development, the civil society community in the state are demanding the immediate re-arrest of Chinyere Ohanyere, who was arraigned separately on same matter, for child stealing and was granted bail, as well as one Chinelo, and others still at large. She also insisted that the police investigation should be speedy and timely.
She agreed that a DNA test will resolve the puzzle about the claims of Chinyere Ohanyere that she conceived and gave birth to the children. She furthered that the civil rights community, Nigerians, as well as the international community are watching to see what the AG and the Imo State government will make of the case.
Meanwhile, during resumed hearing of the case today, Hon. Justice I.M. Njaka adjourned ruling on the bail application brought before the court by Counsel to the accused to the next adjourned date.
The court’s decision was based on the fact that both the state Counsel, and Lawyer representing the Imo State chapter of the African Women Lawyers Association both rejected the application by the defence counsel, informing the court that child trafficking was a very serious offence.