Three suspects, Lazarus Uzor, Anozie Uzor and Valentine Okwuosa, have been arraigned before the Children, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Magistrate Court in Awka, Anambra State, for allegedly using a masquerade to force a widow, Nneka Uzor, out of a community in the Ogbaru Local Government Area of the state.
The suspects were arraigned on five counts on Monday following their arrest by the Anambra State Commissioner for Women and Social Welfare, Ify Obinabo, in collaboration with the state police command.
However, when the charges were read and interpreted to the defendants, they pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Delivering on the bail application for the defendants, the Chief Magistrate, Genevieve Osakwe, said the court would consider the bail application for the defendants since the offence was bailable.
The defendants were granted bail in the sum of N700,000 and must provide reliable sureties in the like sum.
Nneka, 53, a caterer and a mother of two, was banished from the community by her brother, Okwuosa, and other relatives over an allegation that she was a witch.
The video of her banishment went viral on social media.
Narrating her ordeal, Uzor said she started living at her parent’s house in the community nine years ago after the death of her husband and had since been experiencing all kinds of abuse by her brothers and family members.
She said, “This particular issue started when someone died in our neighbourhood and like other members of the community, I was invited to the burial which made me sleep over at our family compound. But I was surprised to be called upon around 5.30am the next morning by my uncle and brothers, Nnamdi Uzor, Lazarus Uzor and Anozie Uzor with masquerades.
“I got dressed and was accompanied by everyone in attendance alongside the masquerade and was marched out of the community with my brothers and other relatives warning me never to step foot in Umunankwo again.”