An 18-year-old housemaid, Iyanuoluwa Ayobami, and two other women are standing trial at the Ebute Meta Magistrate’s Court, Lagos State for allegedly stealing jewelry and money valued at N3.6m.
The accused, Ayobami, Christiana Arawunmi, 47, and Omolade Omowunmi, 47, were arraigned on six counts of felony, stealing, receiving stolen property and assault. They were said to have committed the crime in March and April of 2013.
The crime was however not detected until June, when Ayobami allegedly took some marked cash.
The prosecutor said Ayobami, at various times, stole N350,000, N25,000, N93,000, four golden bangles valued at N400,000 and other sets of jewelry valued N1m, belonging to Mrs. Abiola Olatunji.
Olatunji, in her testimony, said Ayobami was her sister’s maid, adding that she stole the items each time she visited her house in Magodo in company with her boss.
After allegedly confessing to the crime, the housemaid was said to have taken Olatunji to Arawunmi, saying she was the woman who kept the stolen property.
In her evidence before the court, Olatunji said, “My sister usually brought Ayobami to my house in Magodo. There was a time I put N350,000 in my bag. But I later discovered the money had disappeared.
“Again, they brought her at another time, and I discovered my N25,000 was missing.
“Meanwhile, I also observed that each time she came with my sister, my jewelry and golden bangles mysteriously disappeared.”
She said she decided to set a trap for her with some marked naira notes.
Olatunji said, “It was on a Friday, June 7, 2013. We went upstairs to pray. After the prayers, I wanted to give money to the clerics that came and I discovered the money was gone as expected. Another N7,000 that I kept in a separate envelope was also missing.”
She said after much pressure, the maid confessed to stealing the money.
She said, “She led us to where we kept dirty clothes and brought out a black nylon which contained N93,000. When we asked where she had been keeping all the jewelry, she took us to Arawunmi, who denied any involvement.
“Later, we involved the police and Ayobami and Arawunmi were arrested.”
It was learnt that at the station, the police seized Arawunmi’s phone because she was making some calls. Olatunji was given the phone and instructed to act as Arawunmi to the person at the other end.
Olatunji said, “When the person called again, and I picked it. The woman, Omowunmi, thinking I was her friend, told me on the telephone that the items were still in her house. She promised that her husband, who is a lawyer, would fight for me. The police also arrested Omowunmi.”
However, the complainant was about to withdraw the matter when the maid protested that she had not confessed to any crime.
The magistrate, Ms. S.O Solabo, subsequently adjourned the case till August 19, 20, 21.
Meanwhile, Arawunmi pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to one year in prison. She said she slapped the housemaid to prove her innocence.
She pleaded guilty to count four, which stated, “That you, Christiana Arawunmi,f, on the June 8, 2013 at about 2300hrs at No 8, Adetayo Street, Aguda Surulere Lagos in the Lagos Magisterial District did assault one Iyanuoluwa Ayobami,f, by slapping her on the cheek.”
The prosecutor said the assault was punishable under Section 170 of Criminal Laws of Lagos State, Nigeria, 2011.