A Federal high court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on Thursday sentenced a tricycle operator, YunusaDahiru (aka Yellow) to a 26- year imprisonment for kidnapping a 13-year old girl, Ese Rita Oruru, about five years ago at her mother’s shop in Opolo area of Yenagoa Local Government, Bayelsa State.
That was after the trial judge, Justice Jane Inyang convicted Dahiru on four of the fivecount charge of criminal abduction, child
trafficking, illicit sex, sexual exploitation and unlawful carnal knowledge of a minor preferred by the state against him.
Specifically, Justice Inyang absolved Dahiru on count one but sentenced him to five years
imprisonment on count two and seven years each on counts three, four and five.
However, the judge held that the sentences would run consecutively and not concurrently.
In law, when sentences run concurrently, the defendant serves all the sentences at the same time. But when sentences run consecutively, the defendant will have to finish serving the sentence for one offence before he starts serving
the sentence for any other offence.
The background fact of the case is that Dahiru (aka Yellow) on August 12, 2015, kidnapped Ese Rita who was then a 13-year old girl, at her mother’s food vending shop in Opolo, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and under the cover of the night,
took her to his home state, Kano, where she was raped, converted to Islam, renamed ‘Aisha’ and
married off without her parents’ consent. Her conversion and marriage allegedly took place in the palace of the Emir of Kano, SanusiLamidoSanusi. She was a JSS 3 student at Opolo Community Secondary School at the time of the incident. One of her school teachers, Mrs. Douye said she was brilliant and humble but that the abduction prevented her from participating in the Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination that year.
Ese’scase got to the media when her parents raised the alarm and pleaded with the public
or her release. The whereabouts of Ese and Dahiruthough were revealed the next day but all efforts to reunite her with her parents proved abortive until February 29, 2016 when she was reported to have been rescued by Kano State Police.
Unfortunately, at the time she was released, she was already five-monthpregnant for Dahiru.
The development in the case sparked national outrage while various leaders, public figures and youth groups demanded prosecution of the culprit.
Kano State government, through its Information, Youths and Sports Commissioner, Malam Garba, denied any involvement and
demanded the culprit to be prosecuted since the Constitution and Islamic teaching abhor abduction and forced marriage.
On March 2, 2016, Oruru and her mother were eventually reunited in Abuja. Shortly after Ese was rescued, the Bayelsa
State government promised to take care of her and the pregnancy but this has remained a promise ever since.
On March 8, 2016, Dahiru was arraigned at a Federal High Court in Yenagoa presided over by Justice HyeladziraAjiyaNganjiwa on a fivecount indictment.
Justice Nganjiwa himself later ran into trouble with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2017 and was arraigned before a Lagos high court on a 14-count charge of unlawful enrichment and providing false
The matter had to start de novo before another Federal high court judge, JusticeInyang where the case ran its full course with judgment delivered on May 21, 2020. After the judgment, the father of the victim, Charles Oruru, said he was excited that the fiveyear case ended in their favour. We have followed this case with uncommon interest since the news broke. We are glad that
even though the case dragged for almost five years at trial court because it had to move from one judge to another, the matter eventually ranits full course with a judgment favourable to the victim entered. Weare particularly elated that the judiciary,
by this judgment, has succeeded in sending a strong signal to all the likes of Dahiru in the society that such criminal actions areno longer acceptable in this clime.However, now that Dahiru has been heavily sanctioned to serve as deterrence to others, we dare ask: what becomes of Ese and her four year old baby?
We are aware that while the matter was in court, Ese struggled to finish her secondary education but she has been unable to further her studies. In fact, things have been tough for her that at some point, Ese went back on the streets to sell sachet water to augment the family’s income.
It is against this background that we appeal to well meaning Nigerians and Bayelsa State government which had earlier promised to assist the poor girl to urgently come to her aid now without further delay so as to make life meaningful for her.