By Olisemeka Obeche
The trial of Madam Faith Ugochukwu-Amaku and her husband, Obiora Amaku, currently in detention at the Criminal Investigative Department (CID) of Anambra State Police Command for allegedly subjecting two underaged girls living with them to prolonged starvation, torture and battering will commence next Thursday, December 12, Orient Weekend has learnt.
The trial of the couple initially scheduled for December 4 at the Magistrate Court in Awka, could not hold due to technical hitches and when the matter came up on Thursday, it was further pushed forward to December 12.
The prosecutor, ASP Kalu Onyemelam, told this paper that the suspects were taken back to the cell, when the matter could not eventually hold.
“The magistrate said he would hear the case on December 12, and possibly remand them or grant them bail as the case may be,” said the prosecutor.
However, according to charge sheet cited by this paper, the couple was slammed with five count charges bothering on aggravated assault on the housemaids during the period under review and, if convicted, would face jail terms.
Meanwhile the Behind Bars Initiative, the human rights group that organised rescue of the house-helps and paid their hospital bills, had disclosed that the suspects had started making clandestine moves to bribe their way out of the case.
The director general of the group, Gwamnishu Emefiela Harrison, told this paper that the suspect’s lawyer and relatives had indicated their readiness to pay whatever amount they can name just to drop the case; but vowed that the group would not back out until justice was served.
“We have been approached to accept monetary compensation; but we are not going to accept any money for suspects to escape trial. We are ready for trial. Witnesses are available for prosecution”, he said.
This paper also gathered from a reliable source that when the suspect and her husband was taken to the state CID, a police officer raised alarm, disclosing that she had been dragged to the station earlier on same offence.
“The officer was shocked that after she wriggled out of such offence before, she still returned to her old ways and ended up maltreating two maids at the same time.”
Last week, Orient Weekend broke the news of how 11-year-old Ngozi Okonkwo, a native of Abatete in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State, who escaped from bathroom, where she was allegedly held captive in chains for days without food. She was rushed to the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Amaku-Awka for medical treatment.
Miss Okonkwo, who sustained injuries, bruises all over her body and swollen belly, has been treated and discharged. This paper equally learnt that police investigators later led the suspect to locate her mother in Nkanu, Enugu State, where she was told the shocking news of what happened to her daughter.
When Orient Weekend met with the traumatised widow in Awka, during the week, she was full of gratitude to God for saving her daughter. She however, disclosed that she had premonition that something was wrong with her daughter, despite lies fed to her by the madam that she was healthy and attending school.
“The truth is that I have emaciated seriously, because, I did not have rest of mind since my daughter left to live with that woman. I lost appetite and hardly stayed calm. At a point, I started disturbing my brother-in-law, begging him to go to Awka to check on her. But due to the fact that the woman used to assure him, he would tell me that I should not worry that she was fine. But, deep down inside me, I knew that something was wrong where she was staying. The only thing I did was to always hand her over to God. I was not surprised the way God intervened eventually, because, I know that without God, she would have been dead in that house and nobody would know what happened to her. I’m grateful to God”, she told this paper.
Responding to the claims by the suspect that her daughter was prevented from going to school and beaten because she stole N110,000 that she kept for house rent, Mrs Okonkwo said Ngozi would never steal.
“I know my daughter and I can vow for her that she would never take what does not belong to her. Back home, she hardly ate what was given to her outside let alone stealing money to use to buy things.
She argued further, “Even if a child steals, does that warrant such cruel treatment? Let’s say that she steals her money, my brother in-law has phone, I have phone, my brother has phone, my sister has phone; but she claimed we didn’t have phones. She never called us one day to complain, let alone bringing her back.”
Orient Weekend recalled that the suspect had dismissed the victim’s claim that she was not feeding well as lies being spread by gossiping neighbours.
“There was nothing like that. Some of my friends have even told me to send her home that she knows how to tell lies and that she would expose me. I did not listen to them. I called the mom, but her number was not going through, and she did not give me address of the new place she was staying,” said she.
On why the victim was not enrolled in school, the suspect claimed, “She was not enrolled in school because, she was stealing my money. She stole and squandered the N110,000 I wanted to use to rent house, forcing me to go and squat with someone for some time. She would open my bedroom, steal my money. She started stealing gradually before eventually; she took the big one, forcing us to beat her mercilessly.
“Whenever I send her to fetch water, she would use the money she stole to buy things. She would hide sachets of milk and other things inside waste bin and while leaving the house, would eat them. She used to share those things with some other children.
By Olisemeka Obeche