A Kano High Court on Friday fixed March 26 to deliver judgment in the trial of one Paul Owne, the alleged mastermind of the abduction of nine children in Kano.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Owne, and six others were first arraigned on Nov. 13, 2020 over the kidnapping of the children, who were trafficked from Kano to Anambra.
The co-accused are: Mercy Paul, Ebere Ogbono, Emmanuel Igwe, Loise Duru , Monica Oracha and Chinelo Ifedegwu.
NAN reports that the case was brought before Justice Zuwaira Yusuf.
The seven defendants are facing 39 counts, bordering on conspiracy, kidnapping and trafficking in children from Kano to Anambra.
The offences are contrary to the provisions of sections 97(1), 273, 277 of the Penal Code and section 32 (5) of the children and young persons Law of Kano State 2012.
While the first defendant, Onwe, had pleaded guilty to the charges, the six other defendants pleaded not guilty.
At the resumed sitting of the court on Friday, the State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mahmoud Balarabe, made an application to amend the charges pursuant to section 223 (1) of Kano State Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) 2019.
“We apply section 276 (1)(2) of ACJL 2019 for the first defendant to be convicted accordingly having pleaded guilty to the charges.
“The offence of Kidnapping under Kano State Penal Code Law is not a capital offence and I urge the court to discountenance the defence counsel’s submission,” he said.
The counsel to the first defendant, Mr James Obi, had earlier objected to the application of the prosecution counsel for summary conviction of his client citing section 276(3) of the criminal procedure code.
“Where the defendant pleads guilty to a capital offence, a plea of not guilty shall be recorded for him.
“I urge the court to discountenance the application of the prosecution counsel,” he said.
Counsel to the six other defendants, Mr C.A. Olorisade, however did not object to the application.
In her ruling, Justice Zuwaira Yusuf, granted the application to amend the charges and adjourned the case until March 26 to deliver judgment in the case of the first defendant and hearing of the case of the six others.
Speaking to newsmen after the court sitting, the state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr Musa Lawan, commended the police for an excellent job during the investigation of Owne, the mastermind of the crime.
“It is a victory for Kano and the rule of law. Clearly, all those involved in this kind of business I am sure now they know that the law will reach them at any time, anywhere.
“I assure you that we are fully ready to continue with our witnesses to prove our case against the other six defendants,” the A-G said.