Child Abuse: WACOL lauds Justice Ogbuabor for convicting couple in Enugu
By Gabriel Chy Alonta
WomenAid Collective, an organization committed to ending violence against women and children, has lauded Hon. Justice A. C. Ogbuabor of the Enugu State High Court 10, for convicting a couple over the case of child abuse and neglect of a 10-year-old Miss N.
Justice Ogbuabor while delivering judgment in the suit marked NO: HE/121C/2020, between the State (Plaintiff/Applicant) and Jude Ozuogu and Ifeoma Ozuogu (1 and 2 Defendants), Justice Ogbuabor, convicted the couple on all three counts charges of inflicting grievous harm, administering noxious and poisonous substance, and employment of a child as a domestic worker, culminating in a 13-years imprisonment sentence for each of them.
This paper recalled that in July, 2020, a formal complaint was lodged at the WACOL head office in Enugu, regarding the maltreatment and torture of 10-year-old Miss N, by one Mr. Jude and Mrs. Ifeoma Ozougwu, who had alleged that the young victim caused the fall of their baby at their Enugu residence. The couple reportedly descended heavily on the young girl, burning her skin with a hot pressing iron, drilling a nail into her head, and inserting pepper into her vagina, after which they locked her up in a toilet.
A statement signed by WACOL and TamarSARC founder, Prof. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo OON, SAN, described the act by the couple as barbaric and condemnable, saying thay such callousity should not even be heard of in any sane human society.
The statement made available to newsmen in Awka reads in part, “This case is one out of many that brings to the fore light, the plight of child domestic workers. Children who have been robbed of their childhood by irresponsible, callous and wicked people who coerce them with threats of violence into taking up responsibilities that even adults cannot shoulder.
“It is pertinent to note that Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As amended) guarantees the rights to the dignity of the human person. Also, the Labour Act, Cap 198, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990, guards against the employment of children in jobs that would hamper their normal development, while the Criminal Code, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990, makes extensive provisions for the protection of children against abuse and neglect.
“Under Section 295 of the Criminal Code, “…No correction can be justified which is unreasonable in kind or in degree, regard being had to the age and physical or mental condition of the person on whom it is inflicted, and no correction can be justified in the case of a person who by reason of tender years or otherwise is incapable of understanding the purpose for which it is inflicted.”
“Therefore, this decision is in tandem with justice, and would serve as a deterrent and warning to those who would have fancied such a beastly act.
“The African Union Charter on the rights and welfare of the Child (C.R.A), enjoins state parties to safeguard children against all forms of abuse, neglect, and exploitation, including influences that are harmful to their development. States must make sure that children are protected from all physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect and maltreatment, including sexual abuse while in the custody of parents, legal guardians or any other person. A child has the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel treatment, and should be protected from economic exploitation and hazardous work.
“Premised on all these, we make bold to say that the Judgment of the Enugu State High Court 10, presided over by Hon. Justice Ogbuabor, who convicted the culprits, Mr. and Mrs. Ozougwu is laudable, and coming at a time when the society can be said to be losing its focus on child rights protection”, the statement reads.