An Enugu Magistrate Court yesterday 6 July odered that a 24-year old mother of three and her husband be put in jail on a holding charge pending a decision on how they will be prosecuted for alleged crime of attempted murder of a 10-year old maid servant.
Magistrate Joseph Agu of Enugu North Magistrate Court ordered that the couple, Jude and Ifeoma Ozougwu, be placed at the Nsukka Correctional Service Centre pending legal advice by the state Director of public prosecution (DPP).
Operatives of the Enugu State Police Command arrested the couple last weekend and charged them to court on Monday for causing bodily harm to Nneoma Nnadi, the little girl.
Enugu Metropolis exploded in anger and outrage at the news last week when pictures of a grievously brutalised 10-year old surfaced in the social media.
Police told the Court yesterday that Mrs. Ozougwu used hot electric iron to burn parts of Nneoma’s body after piercing sharp nails severally on her head.
She was also said to have applied ground pepper to her private part.
The couple were slapped with a three-count charge of unlawful attempt to kill, unlawful intent to harm, and for engaging a little girl in hazardous, injurious and exploitative work against her physical and socio-psychological development.
Court records show that the abuses occured between January and July 2020 at the Ozougwu’s residence located in the Thinkers’ Corner area of Enugu Metropolis.
Lawyer representing the couple, Barrister Emeka Orji, asked the court to look beyond public sentiments building up against his clients to grant them bail.
“This couple runs a responsible family and I believe if they are granted bail, they will attend to the court processes religiously,” he said.
He also argued that the law recognises the charges against them as bailable offences.
Police prosecutor, Mr. Paschal Nwachukwu, however informed the court that the issue of bail did not arise at that point because the couple is on a holding charge.
He reminded the court that the first and third counts of the charges render a magistrate court incompetent to try the case.
Nwachukwu who introduced himself as head of the legal services unit at the Enugu Polie Command, submitted that the issue of bail is “premature, uncalled for and against the dictates of the law.”
After hearing the arguments, Magistrate Agu declined Orji’s bail application for the couple.
He said his decision was based on the gravity of two of the three charges against the couple, the fact that the alleged victim is still battling for life in a hospital, and “the overwhelming public outcry.”
“I hereby order that the couple be remanded in Nsukka Correctional Facility pending further advice by the State’s Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) ” he said.
Agu adjourned the matter to 13 August 2020 to await a direction for trial by the office of the DPP.
PHOTO CREDIT: ENUGU GOVT HOUSE. LITTLE NNEOMA IN HOSPITAL