Ini Billie, Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo has granted bail to a 22-year-old prison inmate, who delivered of a bouncing baby girl in Uyo Correctional Centre.
Justice Ntong Ntong granted the nursing mother and her brother unconditional bail in sympathy that the six-month-old baby girl has been in prison since she was born on September 24, 2022.
The nursing mother, a PoOS operator and her younger brother, a sales boy in a bakery, both indigenes of Edem Idim Ibakesi in Ini Local Government Area, were held in prison while awaiting trial for allegedly receiving a stolen phone worth N2,000 ($4.34).
It was gathered that the siblings, who are orphans, were charged with conspiracy to receive stolen property and receiving stolen property, but were abandoned by the prosecution in prison.
They had in their extrajudicial statements said they bought an itel phone worth N2,000 ($4.34) from a neighbour without knowing it was stolen.
They were, therefore, held for the offence of conspiracy and receiving of stolen in prison custody since January 2022.
Counsel to the defendants, Barr. Samson Adula and State Coordinator, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, told the court that Inspector Omodot Itoro-Etim attached to the Intelligence Bureau, State Police Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, was responsible for the arrest and detention of the orphans.
Inspector Itoro-Etim was said to have accused the siblings and two others of breaking into her shop at Aka Etinan Road, Uyo in December 2019 to steal phones and recharge cards.
In his ruling, Justice Ntong said the situation was enough to admit the defendants to bail, especially because of the innocent child.
Justice Ntong also said that the mother of the child who dropped out of school in Senior Secondary School (SSS) 2 and her younger brother, an SSS 3 dropout, was constitutionally presumed innocent, and conceded to the application for adjournment by the prosecuting counsel.
The judge excused the absence of the prosecuting counsel but said the date suggested in the application letter was not convenient to the court and adjourned the matter to Monday, March 13, 2023.
“The defendants are hereby granted bail on self-recognisance and unconditionally to a surety who shall leave his contact address with this court. He shall produce them in court on Monday, March 13, 2023.
“The officer in charge of Uyo Correctional Centre is hereby ordered to comply with this order and release the accused persons forthwith to the said surety. I so hold,” Justice Ntong said.
The siblings expressed joy at the court ruling for their unconditional bail and appreciated the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria for their service.
They appealed to members of the public for support to enable them secure jobs to take care of themselves and the newborn baby whom they said the father abandoned during their one-year stay in the correctional centre.