A military court-martial in Maiduguri, Borno State, on Wednesday, dismissed a soldier and sentenced him to five years in prison for raping a 13 years old girl and attempting to kill her.
The soldier, Corporal Aliyu Yakubu, with service number NA/2009/0263, was on July 13, 2020, arraigned before the 7-Division general court-martial on a two-count charge bothering on defilement and assault against a 13-year-old girl in Bama town.
According to the prosecutor, Mr Yakubu on July 1, 2018, dragged the teenager to an uncompleted building in Bama where he assaulted her before he raped her.
The girl told the court that she was raped by the soldier when she was leaving her aunt’s house for her mother’s.
The soldier reportedly sighted her and followed her until he caught up with her.
“He asked where I was going to, and I told him I was going home, he then held my hand and asked me to follow him,” the Judge-Advocate, Aminu Mairuwa, a captain, quoted the girl as saying.
“He dragged her to an uncompleted building behind the old prison and covered her mouth with her hijab as she was shouting for help.
“He brought out a knife and threatened to kill her; after he had naked her and could not penetrate her, he asked if she had ever had sex before, and the girl said no. He then forced his penis into her.
“After he had done raping her, he used a piece of a block to hit her head and then left unconscious,” Mr Mairuwa said.
The judge advocate said the girl later regained consciousness and cried out for help.
After she was taken to the hospital, where she regained full consciousness, the teenager was able to identify the soldier who raped her.
The court said investigating officials of the police and military found evidence at the scene of the crime which indicted the soldier.
The judge advocate said the soldier’s dog-tag which bore his credential, was found at the scene of the crime.
The accused soldier, who denied the allegation, said he was not in Bama on the day the girl was raped. He told the court that he was in Maiduguri on June 31 to see a doctor over his ill health; a claim the court said was false as June has 30 days.
The soldier also claimed that he could not travel to Maiduguri after he had obtained a medical referral on June 30 because there was no vehicle; adding that he had to leave the next day, which he said was June 31.
The court-martial later delivered its judgment after members of the court had reviewed the ruling that indicted the soldier.
Delivering the sentence, President of the court, Arikpo Ekubi, a brigadier, said the soldier had been found guilty on the two counts filed against him.
“This honourable court found you 2009NA/63/2603, Corporal Aliyu Yakubu, guilty of the offences of defilement and assault contrary to
sections 78 and 104, subsection 2A of the Armed Forces Act, respectively.
“These offences offend the tenets of military regimentation and professionalism, which are synonymous to discipline and law-abiding personnel.
“You betrayed the confidence and trust reposed in you by the Nigerian Army, to ensure dignity and respect to the citizens you are expected to protect.
“You sit logic on its head by failing to protect the rights of the vulnerable individuals in society. This amounts to taking us to the ages of darkness and barbarism at a time the Nigerian Army is sparing no effort at safeguarding the rights of women and children.”
Having listened to the soldier’s plea that he was a first time offender, had served the army for a long time and was a family man, the court said it recognised his plea for mitigation of sentence.
The tribubal sentenced the rapist as follows
“Count one; sentenced to five years in imprisonment! Count two dismissal from the service.”
The sentence is subject to the confirmation of a higher military authority.
The court had during the ruling said parents of the teenager had to relocate the little girl to Lagos to avoid stigmatisation.
The court said it learnt that the girl, who is now 15 years old, had gotten married “in March 2020.”
CHild marriage, though illegal by Nigerian law, is still practised in many parts of Northern Nigeria, where it is allowed by statutes.