Saturday, July 13, 2024

Court denies Anambra lawyer bail for brutalising maid



The Children, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Court, sitting at the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Awka, Anambra State has denied a lawyer, Mrs Adachukwu Okafor, bail for allegedly inflicting physical injuries on the body of her 11-year-old housekeeper and ordered her remand at the State Criminal and Investigative Department custody in Awka.

Okafor, who resides at Chris Igwilo Street Akapka GRA, Onitsha, Anambra State, was arraigned before the Children, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Court in Awka, on Wednesday on a-two count. The court was presided by Her Worship, Genevieve Osakwe, at the Chief Magistrate Grade 1, Awka.

Okafor was alleged to have used various objects like a broken bottle, knife, and electric iron to harm her house help, identified as Happiness Nwafor, in response to an incident involving her daughter.

The two-count borders mainly on wilfully inflicting physical injuries on the body of one Happiness Nwafor, an offence punishable under Section 4(1) of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition and Protection) Laws of Anambra State of Nigeria 2017.

The charge was read and interpreted to the defendant to the satisfaction of the court; and the defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Okafor, who was reportedly said to be on the run, surrendered herself to the state police command in Awka, after the Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, had placed a N2m bounty on anyone who knew her whereabouts.

The bail application made by the defendant’s counsel, Chijioke Nwankwo, was denied by the court and the matter adjourned till February 28, 2024 for ruling.

Speaking to journalists after the court’s session, the defendant’s counsel, Nwankwo, when asked why it took his client time to report to the police, stated that he was not aware of any bounty placed on Okafor, explaining that he was only contacted for the job of which he immediately took the defendant to the police immediately.

He, however, accused the state Ministry of Women and Social Welfare of “already doing trial by ordeal”, which he noted was not in the best interest of the case.

The victim, an 11-year-old, had since been discharged from the hospital and made appearance in court too.

Reacting to the development, the Anambra State Commissioner for Women and Social Welfare, Ify Obinabo, stated that she trusted the court to do justice to the matter.

Obinabo also revealed that her ministry would soon embark on media sensitisation programme, during which Ndi Anambra would be educated and fully enlightened about the dangers and negative consequences of child abuse.

She said, “We advise members of the public to shun all forms of social vices in society, especially, those vices that endanger the life of a child; and we call on everyone to be agents of positive social change.”

When interrogated when she appeared before the commissioner in her office, the suspect denied using hot iron and knife on the maid’s private and other body parts, as was shown in the viral video.

She claimed she was only flogging the maid for abusing her son, when she suddenly fell on the blades of her cooking gas burner.

She said, “I was driving and my car broke down at about 3pm that day and I went to buy something.

“When I returned, I met my maid naked on top of my six-year-old son in my car and when I wanted to beat her, she ran away.

“It was the security men at the area that even caught her and brought her to me.

“When I got home and was preparing dinner at about 9pm, I started flogging her for what she did and in a bid to escape, she fell with her buttocks on the blades of the cooking gas.

“She also fell with other parts of her body on the blades. I never inflicted any injury on her as alleged.”

On why she did not take the victim to the hospital when she saw the wounds, the suspect claimed it was already late in the night, adding that she did not see the extent of the injuries that night.

“I couldn’t take her to the hospital the following morning because I had to prepare my children for school. I locked her up in the house so I will take care of her when I returned. I later called her people and took her to them.

“I couldn’t have inflicted those injuries on her because she is not the first person I had lived with. There were many others and this kind of thing never happened,” she added.

When asked why she fled her house after committing the crime, the suspect denied running away.

She said, “I never ran away. I was the one who turned myself in to the police. Infact, the next day after the incident, my children went to school and I went to work. So how did I run?”

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