Child trafficking: Court dismisses suspect’s contempt charge against PUNCHman

Child trafficking: Court dismisses suspect’s contempt charge against PUNCHman

A chief magistrate at the Owerri Magistrate’s Court, Owerri, Imo State, Adika Ibe, has rejected an oral application for the remand of the Imo State Correspondent of PUNCH Newspapers, Chidiebube Okeoma, for reporting an alleged child trafficking case against one Mrs Chinyere Lilian Ohanyere, aka Madam Chichi.

The Imo State Police Command had arrested a nurse, Ngozi Eboson, for allegedly selling two children to Ohanyere.

The police claimed that Eboson bought the children from two different women, and sold them to Ohanyere.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Tuesday, counsel for Ohanyere, Ken Uzoeshi, moved an oral motion, urging the court to commit the PUNCHman, who was in court to cover the proceedings, to prison.

The counsel argued that the journalist, who was in court to observe the proceedings, was misrepresenting the court and had written libellous things against his client.

The journalist was fetched from the premises into the court.

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He told the court that he was observing the proceedings not only as a journalist, but as a law abiding citizen.

The court agreed with the journalist that no contempt had been committed and asked that the matter continue.

Okeoma briefly left the court to avoid intimidation by some suspected friends and relatives of the accused.

Before the proceedings started, a man had approached the reporter and inquired if he was Chidiebube Okeoma.

The man thereafter threatened to deal with the reporter, who promptly reported to some lawyers, including the prosecution counsel.

While this reporter stayed outside the premises due to this experience, the court ordered that he be fetched the second time.

The court ordered the man who threatened the reporter to stand up and introduce himself.

The man, who did not reveal his name, said he was husband to Ohanyere, who was in the dock with another defendant.

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The magistrate, while asking the reporter to sit in the court, said citizens were constitutionally permitted to observe court processes and there was no basis to stop the reporter from doing his job.

She said, “The court is an open place. Citizens are allowed to observe proceedings. I believe you are a journalist, which you have said you are. It is important you don’t misrepresent the court with all those things you post on social media. Because once you do, people all over the world will read it. Journalism has ethics and it is expected you adhere to them.”

The magistrate, after hearing the matter, ordered that the doctor who gave a report that the first accused (Ohanyere) did not deliver the babies be summoned on the next adjourned date.

Ibe also ordered that a date be fixed for her to see the children, who were said to be in custody.

She thereafter adjourned the matter till February 10.

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Mrs Ohanyere was in the dock alongside one Princewill Mbabie.

Contact: [email protected]

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