- I bought the child for N1.4m because of my childlessness – Convict
BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO
An Osogbo Magistrate’s Court, Osun State, has sentenced a 68-year-old woman, Adebisi Balogun, to 24 calendar months imprisonment for stealing a baby.
The court also convicted and jailed Balogun’s lover, Adegboye Awoniyi, a man who claimed to be a prophet of a Cherubim and Seraphim Church in Osogbo for 12 calendar months for conspiracy.
But for the vigilance of some residents of Ayetoro area of Osogbo, the state capital, Balogun would have continued to lay claim to the maternity of the baby who was four months old as of the time of the crime on August 26, 2021.
Balogun, who was not known to have been delivered of a baby in the Ayetoro area of Osogbo where she lived, was said to have brought the newborn girl home with a claim that she was her child.
The persistent and agonising cry of the baby, however, drew the attention of some of Balogun’s neighbours, who reportedly approached and interrogated her on how she got the baby.
According to one of the residents who accosted the woman, when quizzed, the suspect was incoherent as she allegedly gave conflicting accounts of how she got the baby.
The resident, who did not want her name in print, told The Point, “At around 5pm (on the fateful day), a friendand I went to the ATM located in our area to make some withdrawals. We were standing beside the road due to the long queue. At a point, the woman (Balogun) passed by us.
“She was backing a baby who was crying so loudly and appeared malnourished. Because we knew the woman at our area and we had not seen her with any baby, we decided to ask her, at least, to attend to the crying baby.
“The manner in which the woman (suspect) was attending to the baby was not too okay, so, we decided to question her on the whereabouts of the mother of the baby. This is because looking at the woman’s age; we knew that she, ordinarily, couldn’t have been the mother of the baby. We were not really convinced by her explanations.
“At first, she told us that the baby belonged to her daughter who gave birth at a church. She told other people that she was the one who gave birth to the baby. At this point, some angry youths in our area labelled her a thief and wanted to lynch her. But, we stopped them and invited the police to arrest and investigate her.”
It was gathered that Balogun was taken to Dugbe Police Station in Osogbo for interrogation.
After completion of investigation, Balogun and Awoniyi were charged with conspiracy and theft.
The baby has been taken to an orphanage in Osogbo by the Police.
In court, Inspector Adeoye Kayode, police prosecutor, said that Balogun stole the baby sometimes in April, 2021, but that the baby was found in her possession on August 26, at about 5:00 pm at Ayetoro area of Osogbo.
The duo were said to have conspired with others now at large to carry out the act. The offence committed are said to be contrary to and punishable under Sections 516, 371(1), and 249(D) of the Criminal Code, Cap 34, Volume II, Laws of Osun State of Nigeria, 2002.
Balogun pleaded guilty while Awoniyi pleaded not guilty to the count of conspiracy.
During the trail which lasted two years, police prosecutor, Inspector Adeoye Kayode, had informed the court that the suspect named the baby girl Esther Awoniyi and that when the sexagenarian woman was asked about the girl’s father, she took the Police to Adegboye Awoniyi, her lover, who claimed to be a prophet of a Cherubim and Seraphim Church in Osogbo.
The Police arrested the 60-year-old cleric, who is suspected to be the woman’s concubine, over alleged conspiracy. The duo were defended in court during hearing by their lawyers, Okobe Najite and M.O. Akinwande.
The Magistrate, Oyindamola Daramola, who had remanded the duo in Ilesa Correctional Centre at the first arraignment, found them guilty as charged while delivering judgment recently.
Daramola sentenced the duo to one year imprisonment for conspiracy with an option of N20,000 fine each.
For child stealing, Balogun bagged 12 calendar months jail term and N20,000 option of fine.
The magistrate ordered that the female convict should follow the necessary legal process to adopt the child in a welfare home if she was interested.
During an interview with The Point, Balogun claimed that she bought the baby from some merchants, owing to her childlessness.
According to her, she was advised to buy a baby when she relayed her menopause predicament and the desire to have her own child to her friend popularly called ‘Iya Tope Ede.’
She alleged that Iya Tope took her to Ore in Ondo State where she bought the baby for N1.4 million.
Balogun, who spoke in Yoruba language, said that she was a charcoal seller.
She said, “Let me confess; the baby is not mine. I don’t have a child. I told my friend, Iya Tope Ede,’ of my childless condition and she promised to help me. She took me to Ore where I bought the baby. I paid N1.4million.
“I am sorry. Please, forgive me. I just want to have a child, not that I want to harm the baby.”
On his part, Awoniyi said, “I didn’t know anything about the baby and she did not even inform me of it. I am in a romantic relationship with her. She used to attend my church. When the Police came to arrest me, they told me that the child was named after me as the father of the baby. That is a lie. I didn’t know anything about it. She is just a concubine. She named the child without my consent.”