A 58-year-old man, Obinna Iziejen, has pleaded guilty to three counts of defilement before a sexual offences court headed by Justice Sybil Nwaka of the Ikeja Division of the Lagos State High Court.
Mr. Iziejen and two others, Raimi Jimoh and Kazeem Arowolo, were arraigned on February 12 for raping a 12-year-old primary school pupil in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos.
Mr. Iziejen’s co-defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Premium Times learnt that the defendant’s guilty plea would be the first conviction recorded by the sexual offences court since it was inaugurated two weeks ago.
Jide Boye, the prosecutor, said Mr. Iziejen’s guilty plea has relieved the state the burden to prove his offence beyond reasonable doubt.
“The facts are that on the 16th of June 2017, a 12-year-old primary school pupil at a town called Orimeju in Ibeju Lekki, it was observed by the school authorities that the child was in the habit of returning late from lunch break during school hours and upon inquiry, the child admitted that the second defendant, Arowolo Kazeem Olorunwa, had been having sexual intercourse with her during break time.
“The headteacher inquired further and the child also mentioned the third defendant, Obinna Iziejen, and the first defendant, Raimi Jimoh, as people who have defiled her severally during break period.
“In proof of this fact, the prosecution listed five witnesses, a medical report and we were ready to proceed to trial after arraignment but the third defendant, aged 58, pleaded guilty to the offence on the 12th of February 2018.”
Mr. Boye said Section 137 of the state’s Criminal Law stipulates that anyone who has sexual intercourse with a child commits a felony and is liable to imprisonment for life upon conviction.
“In line with the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015, the prosecution prays the court to convict the defendant accordingly,” he added.
The judge, in her ruling, convicted the third defendant following his guilty plea and in the absence of any contrary position.
The defence counsel, Aidoloje Bobby, prayed the judge to temper justice with mercy adding that the fact that the Nigerian prison is not conducive for people of his age should be considered.
In his response, Mr. Boye said the conviction would be the first since the establishment of the Sexual Offences Court and that a strict sentence would help send a message to other sexual predators.
“Offences of this nature are now rampant and situations where our children especially the girl child can no longer move freely even in school will no longer be tolerated by the state,” he said.
“The state wants a safe environment for children and this judgement will send a signal to offenders that the state would henceforth deal decisively with anyone guilty of any sexual offence.
“For parents, this would be a reassurance that the state is with them in the fight against sexual offenders and that our children should not entertain any fear whatsoever in coming out to report and disclose sexual assault against them.”
“For the survivors, it is justice assured because the state has put the necessary facility in place to ensure that they are adequately protected. We, therefore, urge them to speak out as this is the only way to arrest this ugly situation.”
The case was adjourned till February 21 for the sentencing of the convict and trial of the other defendants.