From Mike Odeh James
Representatives of the Human Rights Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Federation of Women Lawyers and UNICEF were on Monday afternoon at Magistrate Court 1, Kaduna, to demand justice for a 13-year-old housemaid, Janet Audu who was battered with hot water by her caregivers.
Background checks revealed that the little girl while doing other house chores had burnt her mistress soup which angered a 14-year-old son who decided to bathe the maid with hot water meant to prepare local dishes.
It was however gathered that both the son, Yusuf Marcus (first respondent and a minor) and his mother, Luthsi (second respondent) have been earlier granted bail after they pleaded not guilty to three count charges level against them.
The three-count charges are cruelty to a person, causing bodily harm without provocation and abatement of the offender as captured in sections 207, 221 and 54 of the Penal Code of Kaduna State.
Magistrate Benjamin Hassan after hearing the Police, adjourned the case to August 19 for further hearing to enabled the Police to complete their investigation on the matter.
Fielding questions from journalists outside the courtroom, Barr Bukola Ajao who represented the Human Rights Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, Barnawa Branch said, “the matter came up for further mention and the Police told the court that they are almost concluding their investigation.
“The matter had been adjourned to August 19 for hearing. The two defendants denied the liability and of course, there is still the benefit of innocence and the bail condition stands”, she said
Also speaking outside the courtroom, Chairperson of FIDA in Kaduna State, Zainab Atoba, said, her organisation would wait until the Police conclude their investigations.
“Our interest is to see that justice is done in this matter. If the Police said they are yet to conclude the investigation, they should go and do their bid and then we reconvene on the said date.
What we don’t like is that we have not been able to see the face of the defendant. It took her so long before she came to court. It was as if the court was waiting for her. Since it is the second appearance today, we will take it that the court is doing what is suppose to do and the prosecution is also doing their beat. All we want to see at the end of the day is justice”, she said.
Child Protection Specialist with UNICEF, Kaduna Field Office, Wilfred Mamah, who was also in court said, “We at UNICEF are fighting for children and that was why we are here as watching brief.
There are laws both at the federal and state levels that prohibit child abuse like torture etc. This case is one instance of abuse which we will be happy if it is tried justly. If the alleged perpetrator is found guilty, we will be happy to see that justice is done to serve as a deterrent to others”.
Counsel to defendants, Napoleon Idenala, said, “without trying to comment on what is already prejudicial, there is the need to state for the record. If we look at the case that is being filed, there is an issue between two minors – a small boy and a small girl.
“They fought and subsequently, an issue occurred. Police investigated and charged the minor and his mother in court. The prosecution said they need a date to come and prove their case and the court granted the August 19. So, let us wait and see what happens”, he said.