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Female Human Trafficker Jailed 

By Chris Mbunwe

The Bamenda High Court has sentenced a female human trafficker, Angeline Manka Gashu, 58, to five years in jail for kidnapping a young girl from Nigeria last year. The court viewed this act as "aggravated kidnapping" and found Manka guilty on two counts and was sentenced to serve five years in jail on the first court, with a FCFA 500,000 fine. On the second count, Manka will serve five years concurrently and pay as cost FCFA 182,000 to the State or serve additional 12 months in default.

Victorine Chukwe and Child; victim of human tracfficking

The court spelt out that the trafficker will serve her prison terms of five years simultaneously and equally pay FCFA 1 million to Victorine Chukwu. The story goes that Angeline Manka, widowed to a Nigerian and later returned to Cameroon, trafficked Ms. Victorine Chukwu to Cameroon just at the time she (Chukwu) was about to deliver.

Reports say that while in Bamenda, Chukwu delivered a baby boy and a few weeks later, Manka, who was sheltering Chukwu, disappeared with the child and created the impression that she had travelled to Nigeria to hand him to Victorine’s parents. When Victorine mounted pressure on Manka to recover her baby, Manka instead provided transport fare for her to go get her baby believed to be with her parents in Nigeria.

All attempts by Manka to force Victorine to board a vehicle transporting eru to Nigeria failed as noise and agitation from market women drew the attention of curious lookers. That is how the State Counsel for Mezam got a tip-off of the incident and Manka was arrested by Bamenda Judicial police.  After Preliminary Investigations, PI, the State Counsel handed the matter to the Bamenda High Court. 

While handing down judgment on Tuesday, October 26, Justice Ignatius Ajuo said the fact that Manka took Victorine’s baby, Emmanuel Chukwu, to Nigeria alone smacks off suspicion that there was no intention to give back the baby. The court went further to establish that Manka’s behaviour shows that she hid the baby in Bamenda and wanted to force the mother back to Nigeria without the child. The fact that Manka made available the child within a few hours betrayed her because she had not taken the child to Nigeria as she told the police.

Victorine is quoted as saying she would not know what story to tell her parents if she returned to Nigeria without the child. Barrister Peter Nji, offering his services for free, joined the State to rescue Victorine and her baby from the kidnapper. Defending Manka, lawyer Anthony Amazee, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy because the accused, at her age, would be doing what with a baby.

Amaze pleaded further that Manka, a first offender, a widow, sole bread winner of the family, should not be severely sanctioned because she seemed not to be very stable following the incoherence in her utterances.  Talking to The Post after the judgment, the Representative of Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Bamenda, Asumta Ngongba Lum, on behalf of Laura Anyola Tufon, described the judgment as historical. 

"This will serve as a deterrent to traffickers and kidnappers. After this judgment, we shall ensure the girl goes back to Nigeria with her two-year-old child and meet her parents. It has not been easy for us to lodge, feed and shelter this girl with the baby for close to two years that this matter was on. We sincerely thank the courts because this is the first fruits from the colloquium Justice and Peace Commission held last August against child trafficking, kidnapping and slavery in Cameroon," Asumta Lum stated.

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