Court Dismisses Couple’s No Case Submissions On Alleged Human Trafficking Charges
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Lagos Federal High Court, today, asked a couple, Okeowo Tunde and his wife, Okeowo Seun, formerly Akinyemi Seun, to open their defence on the alleged human trafficking allegations levelled against them by the National Agency for the Prosecution of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP).
Justice Aneke ordered the couple to defend themselves of three out of six charges of the offences, while delivering ruling in the couple’s No-Case-Submission.
Both Tunde and his wife, Seun, were brought before the court of a six count charges of conspiracy, organising foreign travel which promotes prostitution; engaging in acts of trafficking in persons; and unlawful trafficking of the duo of Muhammed Titilope and Ibitayo Kehinde, a.k.a. Mariam.
The prosecutor, Becky M. Jibo, had told the court that the couple who commited the alleged offences while they were still in courtship, sometimes in May, 2016.
The offences according to the prosecutor, are contrary to sections 18; 13(4)(c) and 27(b) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015 and punishable under the same Section of the Act.
The couple were first arraigned in April 25, 2018, before Justice Mohammed Idris, who elevated to the Court of Appeal.
Upon the elevation of Justice Idris to the Appeal Court, the couple’s case filed was reassigned to Justice Aneke, and they were re-arraigned in November 21, 2018.
The prosecution upon calling two witnesses, Muhammed Titilope, one of the victims of the couple’s illegal act, and Owoeye Lydia, one of the investigators with NAPTIP, closed it’s case.
However, instead of open their defence against the allegations, the couple opted for No-Case-Submission
While the couple through their lawyer, Kayode Oyelade, filed the written addresses on August 27, 2021, NAPTIP through the prosecutor, Becky Jibo, filed it’s response to the address on September 16, 2021.
Justice Aneke after critically and carefully summarised the evidence of the witnesses called by prosecution and the parties addresses before him and citing several plethoras of authorites, held that “the prosecution has not been able to link the defendants to the count two, four and six of the charges.
The judge however held that “the evidence of the first witness has established a prima facia case against the defendants on count one, three and five”.
The judge consequently called on the couple to open their defence of the remaining three counts. While adjourned the matter till February 10, 2022, for continuation of trial.
NAPTIP in a charge filed March 23, 2018, alleged the couple, sometimes in May 2016, conspired among themselves and organized foreign travel which promotes prostitution for Muhammed Titilope and Ibitayo Kehinde, also known as Mariam.
NAPTIP prosecutor had told the court that the couple illegally and unlawfully smuggled their victims through desert to Tripoli, the Libya’s capital, for the illicit business.