Justice Muslim Hassan of a Federal High Court in Lagos, yesterday, sentenced a 58-year-old farmer, Yesiru Onajobi, to 10 years imprisonment for rape and defilement of his teenage daughter.
The Judge, who noted the rising wave of rape in society, ordered that the convict should serve the term without option of fine.According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the convict, a resident of Bogije Street in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, was charged to court in 2011 on a two-count charge of having carnal knowledge of his then 13-year-old daughter.He was prosecuted by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) had told the court that after the death of Onaboji’s wife, he took custody of his only daughter, who is a twin, while her brother was with relatives.
The convict was said to have engaged in repeated sexual adventures with his daughter, with whom he shared the same bed, and restrained her movement or interaction with neighbours. Although the convict had pleaded not guilty to the charge, the case suffered some setbacks and adjournments, as he had no legal representation for several months while he was in custody.
The trial, however, subsequently commenced after a lawyer was provided for him from the Legal Aid Council (LAC).In his lengthy judgment, yesterday, Justice Hassan gave a detailed analysis of the facts of the case, as reflected in the charge, and the various arguments, as canvased by respective parties.
The Judge decried the high rate of rape, defilement, assault and sexual abuse of the girl-child, which had become prevalent in society, adding: “The issue for determination, as formulated by Counsel, can be summed into one, and that is whether the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“Proof beyond reasonable doubt is not proof beyond any shadow of doubt; once an ingredient of the offence is proved, it is sufficient proof.” Justice Hassan held that it was difficult to disbelieve the evidence of the victim, who he said gave a vivid account of the incidences, adding that her testimony remained constant at all times.
“The evidence of PW1 was consistent both in her examination-in-chief and under cross-examination.“PW 2 also corroborated this evidence and the defendant did not produce any evidence to prove his denial.“I believe the evidence of PW1 and I hold that the prosecution has been able to prove its case.
“I hereby convict you, Yesiru Onajobi, on this charge and I call for allocutus.”After listening to a very brief allocutus (plea for mercy) by defence Counsel, who urged the court to temper justice with mercy, Justice Hassan held that the charge against the convict was a serious one, noting: “The right of custody of a child does not extend to abuse, as done in this charge.“The offence of defilement and child molestation is becoming rampant in our society, as one cannot leave his child under the care of his neighbour.
“I hereby sentence you, Yesiru Onajobi, to 10 years imprisonment each on counts one and two, without option of fine.”“The terms shall run concurrently from the date of arrest.” The charge was first filed before Justice Barbara Molokwu in 2011, but was reassigned to Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke after the transfer of the trial Judge.
The case was again reassigned to Justice Hassan following the transfer of Justice Aneke.During trial, the victim gave a detailed account of how she was repeatedly sexually exploited by her father, who threatened to kill her if she dared to speak to anyone about it.
She told the court that she slept on the same bed with her father and had informed him when she discovered she had missed her period; hence he had taken her for test and when the result proved positive, he insulted and accused her of sleeping around while her mates were in school.She told the court that her father pressed her mouth with a hot electric iron when she attempted to reveal the secret, but added that when her pregnancy began to grow, she then informed her relatives, who took her away to her grandmother.
The victim also told the court that when the baby was born, her grandmother refused the baby, as a result of which she called her father to take the child.But in his testimony, the defendant told the court that while he was taking the baby home, passengers, who accused him of kidnapping for rituals, accosted him.He said that he was then arrested by the Police and after making confessional statements, he was handed over to NAPTIP for prosecution, while the baby is currently in custody of the state.