For Sera Ezekiel, the hope of avoiding going to jail for 12 years for trafficking in young persons ended on Friday as the Supreme court said there was no reason to upturn the judgment of the lower trial court on the issue in a unanimous decision.
“ I do not find anything in submission by the appellant that will persuade me to disturb the sentences passed by the trial judge.
“I am satisfied that the trial judge has eminently exercised his discretion not only judiciously but judicially.
“My Lords, like the lower court, I am equally enamoured of the approach of the trial court.
“I, therefore, affirm its endorsement of the position of the trial court.
“Permit me, however, to add that it is, indeed, very worrisome that the insatiable allure of filthy lucre could impel a woman to traffic in young girls,’’ Justice Chima Nweze who led other four justices of the court to arrive at a unanimous decision said in the judgment of the apex court.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the other panelists are Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, Justice Musa Muhammad, Justice Clara Ogunbiyi and Justice Amiru Sanusi.
Nweze further said: “there would be no limit to the cravings for material things unless people rein in their unquenchable appetite for them’’.“In all, I find no merit in this appeal. I have no hesitation in entering an order dismissing it. Appeal dismissed,’’ he said.
NAN recalls that the appellant and others in this appeal were arraigned at the Federal High Court, Ikeja on Nov.18, 2011 on accusation of trafficking in persons by the Federal Government, contrary to Sections 15 (a), 15 (a), 16 , 19 (1) (b), 19 (1) (d).
The prosecution also alleged that the action contravened Section 21 of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003 (as amended)
Miss Nneka Ajie, a Law Officer of the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters had signed the charge.
Ajie on behalf of the AGF amended and signed the charge anchored on 18-count against the appellant a year later.
The accused was alleged to have committed offences of trafficking in persons contrary to Sections 15 (a), 15 (c), 16, 19 (1) (b), 19 (1) (d) and 21 of the same law.
Upon her arraignment on the amended charge on Feb.24, 2012, the appellant, who was unrepresented, pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
The trial court, finding her guilty as charged, convicted her and sentenced her to various degrees of sentences with all sentences to run concurrently.
Aggrieved by conviction and sentence, Sera appealed unsuccessfully to the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division.
This further appeal is the appellant’s expression of her disgust against the appellate affirmation of the trial court’s decision.
She had framed two issues for the determination of her appeal.
The appellant had asked the apex court to decide whether law officers of NAPTIP were officers in the department of AGF and could sign charge or processes initiated by the AGF
The apex court was also sought to determine whether if the lower court had considered the submission of the appellant’s counsel that the appellant was a victim of the offences and first offender.
NAN reports that the two issues were decided against the appellant as the court held that it was not at liberty to either free or reduce the penalty of the offences for first offenders.
Nweze also held that all law officers were constitutional empowered to act on behalf of the AGF.