A 40-year-old businessman charged with defiling and impregnating his neighbour’s daughter in Lagos, on Monday, sought an out-of-court settlement.
The accused, Nwanne Nwaora, requested before an Ikeja High Court that the case be settled out of court in the interest of the child produced by the unlawful act.
He made the request through his counsel, Mr Worer Obuagbaka.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Nwaora, a resident of Ogba, Lagos, is accused of forcefully having sexual intercourse with the 12-year-old pupil.
Addressing the court, Obuagbaka said,“If he is sentenced to life imprisonment, the interest of the new child will be in jeopardy.
“If the case is settled out of court, and the defendant has asked to take care of the child and the defiled child (complainant), which is enough punishment.
“If he is jailed, it will not be in the interest of the new child who will go through trauma knowing that her father is languishing in jail.
“I will like to request for an adjournment to enable us to interact with the relations of the victim so that the defendant will be made to take care of the new child and the defiled child by an order of this court.”
The defence counsel told the court that he was asking for a plea bargain agreement by the prosecution and defence.
Objecting, the lead prosecution counsel, Mr Y. G Oshoala, said that Nwaora must lawfully pay for the alleged crimes.
“Contrary to the submission of the learned defence counsel, two witnesses – the victim and her mother – are in court, and I learnt they have been to court on seven or more occasions.
“The defendant defiled a 12-year-old child and another child was produced from that act.
“The defendant should plead guilty; during allocutus (plea for mercy before sentencing), the defence counsel can bring up the points he is canvassing.
“The defendant should not eat his cake and have it; he should assume legal responsibility for his actions,” Oshoala said.
Ruling, Justice Josephine Oyefeso said, “I have considered very carefully the submissions of the learned counsel; I have considered that the defence counsel has only been briefed and that a plea bargain agreement is being requested by the defence.
“In view of the fact that the defence counsel has not been served with the proof of evidence, I will grant an adjournment.
“The case was adjourned until January 7, 2019, for definite trial or report of plea bargain,” Oyefeso said.
According to the prosecution, Nwaora defiled the pupil in November 2015 in her parents’ apartment.
He is alleged to have lured his victim’s brother out of the apartment by sending him on an errand.
After the incident, the defendant allegedly threatened to kill the pupil if she would reveal it to anyone.
Months later, the pupil’s mother noticed changes in her body and confronted her, thereby making her to reveal what happened.
NAN reports that the two-year-old child born as a result of the defilement was in court with her mother and grandmother.
Ms O. C Aga, a lawyer from the African Women Lawyers Association, also made an appearance in the courtroom to observe proceedings.
NAN reports that defiling a child contravenes Section 137 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011, which prescribes life sentence for anyone found guilty of the offence.