- Promises of scholarship by Delta, Bayelsa unfulfilled, father appeals for help
From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Two years have passed since Eseoghene Rita Oruru was abducted on August 12, 2015, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital and spirited out to Kano, where she was impregnated and then converted into a ‘wife’ by Yunusa Dahiru, (aka Yellow), in clear violation of civil law and without the consent of the parents.
The incident attracted a strong condemnation and compelled the Federal Government, which directed the then Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, to locate and return Ese to her family in Bayelsa State. The IGP was further directed to prosecute Dahiru before a competent court in Yenagoa under the relevant extant laws.
The national outrage brought freedom for Ese Oruru on February 19, 2016 as she was escorted back to Bayelsa State by a special police team. On March 8, Dahiru who was arrested in Kano and brought to Yenagoa, where he was arraigned before Justice Hyeladzira Ejiya Nganjiwa at the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa by the police prosecution team led by Kenneth Dika, on a five count charge of criminal abduction, illicit sex, sexual exploitation and unlawful carnal knowledge of a minor.
Barely, two months after Yunusa’s arraignment, precisely on May 26, 2016, Ese who had been in the protective custody of the police and living at the Police Officers Mess with her mother, Ese gave birth to a baby girl at the Bayelsa State Government House Clinic.
Yunusa was granted bail on March 26, 2016 but could not meet the bail conditions. This prompted his lawyer, Mr Kayode Olaoseibikan, to seek a variation of the bail conditions, which the court considered and consented to, leading to Yunusa’s release from Okaka Medium Prisons, Yenagoa in July 2016, after he met the new bail conditions.
The celebrated case went on until September 2016, when the presiding judge, Justice Nganjiwa ran into troubled waters with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The case has been in limbo since then, leaving the father of Ese, Charles Oruru, civil society groups and all those yearning to see justice done the case, filled with concern and traumatized.
In the face of the heat generated by the abduction, the catering business of Ese’s mother collapsed and compelled her to relocate with Ese, the baby and her other children to their village, Uhweru in Ughelli Local Government Area of Delta State, where she is struggling to eke out a living. On his part, Oruru satayed back in Yenagoa to sell sachet water.
But what is more troubling to Oruru, Ese’s father, is that high-sounding promises made by the Delta and Bayelsa state governments have not been fulfilled. Both state governments had promised to sponsor Ese in school.
Cry for help
In an interview with Sunday Sun, Oruru pleaded with the Bayelsa and Delta state governments to keep their promises, He also gave insight to the plight of the family.
“My family had to relocate to the village because there was nothing we were doing here again. Because of the problem we had, we spent all the money my wife used in running her business. So with nothing to do, they had to relocate to the village to find something to feed.
“I have been selling sachet water to survive. There is nothing for us to do and I don’t want to go hungry. All the promises made by the government have not been fulfilled. The government promised to give my daughter scholarship; that is yet to be fulfilled. My daughter wrote a letter to remind the government about the scholarship, but we have not heard anything. Both Bayelsa and Delta governments have done nothing. The case has been stalled in court because the Judge had some problems with the Federal Government.
“I still believe justice would be done in the case because justice must prevail. I want the Federal Government to bring another Judge or allow the current Judge to handle the case so that my daughter would get justice and her life will have some peace. As a minor we don’t want her life to be troubled more with court cases involving cross examinations. The government should fulfil its promise to give Ese scholarship. We have been responsible for her and the baby. This has taken a toll on us. The government should come to our aid and allow this case to finish so that our mind will be at rest.”
Twists and turns of the case
When the case was last mentioned in October 2016 at the Federal High Court, both the prosecution and defence teams were informed that the case would not be called as the presiding Judge was unavoidably absent. That was when Justice Nganjiwa’s running battle with the EFCC over allegations of corruption began. There was a sigh of relief when in June 2017, the National Judicial Council (NJC) recalled Nganjiwa and directed him to resume sitting since the EFCC had refused to arraign him in court. The sigh of relief was however short-lived as the EFCC then brought charges on Nganjiwa and moved to arraign him in court thereby stopping his proposed sitting on Ese Oruru case and other cases before him.
At the resumed hearing of the case on October 10, 2017, the situation has not changed. Both the prosecution and defence teams were present in court but there was no Judge to preside. Both teams have expressed their readiness to continue with the case anytime they are called upon to appear. The Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO) Bayelsa State led by Chief Nengi James is also worried that the case has been stalled in the court.
Sunday Sun findings showed that the Bayelsa State government, acting through the Attorney General of the State and Commissioner for Justice, and in collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association, Yenagoa and Sagbama chapters, have been mounting pressure on the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdu Kafarati to post another Judge to the Yenagoa Division of the Federal High Court, to continue with all the cases before the court.
Different strokes for Yunusa, Ese
At the last court appearance, it was very evident that life is on the upswing for Yunusa as there was a noticeable bounce as he walked out of the court as if springs were under his footwear. He wore a flowing babariga. Sunday Sun investigations revealed that the case has attracted financial favour to him unlike Ese Oruru, the victim.
Following the ethnic colouration that the case assumed, sources told Sunday Sun that some northerners joined up to pay his legal fees. Moreover, they also bought two new tricycles to assist him in earning a living.
On its part, the kinsmen of Oruru, Uhrobo Progress Union (UPU) sent a lawyer and its national secretary, Chief Albert Akpomudje (SAN) to join the prosecution team in the efforts to get justice for Ese. It was him that wrote a letter contending that the then Inspector General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, should be joined in the case. Akpomudje stated that the interest of all Urhobo people is of paramount interest to the UPU.
Sunday Sun gathered that aside the legal intervention for the Oruru family from the UPU, there has been no tribal solidarity in terms of financial assistance for the family.