Protest has greeted the admission of three suspected kidnappers to bail by an Ogun Magistrate’s Court, sitting in the Owode Egba area of the state.
The defendants – Habibat Oyesanya, 52; Olubunmi Tajudeen, 36 and 40-year-old Morenike Shittu – were granted bail in the sum of N200,000 with two sureties each in like sum by a presiding magistrate, Mrs. I.O. Abudu.
They had been arrested for allegedly abducting a four-year-old girl in Ibadan, Oyo State, and whisked her to Mosafote community, Ibafo, Ogun State.
Our correspondent had reported that Shittu was taking the girl from the community on October 15, 2017, when residents intercepted her and she was subsequently handed over to the police.
She led the police to apprehend Oyesanya and Tajudeen.
While being paraded at the Ogun State Police Command headquarters in Eleweran, Abeokuta, on October 24, Tajudeen had told journalists that she sold her three-year-old daughter to Oyesanya for N280,000 so she could offset a debt.
She also confessed to have abducted the four-year-old girl in Bodija, Ibadan, on the demand of Oyesanya.
On Monday, November 13, they were arraigned on three counts bordering on kidnapping. Their pleas were not taken.
The charges read in part, “That you, Habibat Oyesanya, Olubunmi Tajudeen, Morenike Shittu and others at large, on October 15, 2017 at about 12pm at Mosafote, Ibafo, in the Owode Egba Magisterial District, did conspire among yourselves and kidnapped a four-year-old girl, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 23 (1), Special Provision Laws of Ogun State, 2016.
“That you, Habibat Oyesanya and Morenike Shittu, on the same date, time and place, in the aforementioned magisterial district, did harbour the girl, knowing full well she was kidnapped by one Olubunmi Tajudeen, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 29, Special Provision Laws of Ogun State.”
Meanwhile, residents of Mosafote have questioned the decision of the court for releasing the suspects on bail.
The residents’ grievance was contained in a petition addressed by their lawyer to the Chief Judge, Ogun State High Court, the state Attorney-General, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the state Commissioner of Police.
In the petition, dated November 13, 2017 and acknowledged by the DPP, the lawyer, Folami Fashe of Folami Fashe & Co, requested that the bail be revoked.
It read in part, “The suspects’ arrest came about due to the vigilance of the community members who, upon suspicion that a kidnapped victim was kept in a house within the community, alerted the police. After investigation, the police charged the matter to court vide charge no MOO/368C/2017.
“The suspects were arraigned before Mrs. I.O. Abudu at the Owode-Egba Chief Magistrate’s Court. No plea was taken. That notwithstanding, the magistrate proceeded to grant them bail. We were reliably informed that the case file has been duplicated and sent to your (DPP’s) office for legal advice.
“While we appreciate the need for presumption of innocence of the suspects, we believe that the magistrate court acted in bad faith in releasing the suspects on bail. We, therefore, request your urgent action to ensure that the suspects are re-arrested and prosecuted.”
However, the Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Abimbola Oyeyemi, said the police lacked the power to re-arrest the suspects for the same offence they had been arraigned.
He said, “I am not aware of the petition yet. The police have the power to arrest, investigate and charge a suspect to court, while the court has the discretion to grant or deny anybody bail. It is not a police matter.
“There is nothing we can do on a matter that is already in court unless after they have been granted bail, we find out through our investigation that there is another offence they can be arraigned for. But if it is the same offence they have been arraigned for, there is nothing we can do. We have to wait for the court to determine their case.”