A 65 year old man, Nathaniel Igbokwe, was discharged and acquitted of the offence of defilement by the High Court of Lagos State.
The Defendant, who had been in custody since 2019, was discharged and acquitted by the Honourable Court on the 4th of October, 2022.
The Prosecution counsel, Olawale Ijabikin Esq., had argued amongst other things that the Defendant, who lived in the same compound as the alleged victim, had sexual intercourse with the alleged victim in his apartment when the alleged victim’s father had gone to work. The prosecution called four witnesses, and from the evidence of the witnesses, only the alleged victim testified to the Defendant having sexual intercourse with her. The evidence of the remaining three witnesses were hearsay evidence narrated by the alleged victim.
The Defendant testified for himself and stated before the court that he and the family of the alleged victim had a cordial relationship and he cared for the alleged victim and her sibling like he would care for his own children. Furthermore, he stated that he helps the alleged victim and her brother with their assignment and prepares food for them whenever they are hungry. He also confirmed to the court that at no point did he have canal knowledge of the alleged victim.
The Team Lead from DNL Partners who represented the Defendant pro bono, Qudus Mumuney Esq., argued that the only evidence that suggests that the Defendant had sexual intercourse with the alleged victim is the uncorroborated evidence of the alleged victim. He argued further, relying on the case of James v. State of Lagos (2021) LPELR-52456(CA), that for an offence of this nature, it is not enough to prove that there was penetration/sexual intercourse or that the alleged victim was/is underaged, rather the evidence of the alleged victim must be corroborated by a direct, cogent and unequivocal evidence.
He also argued that the absence of a corroborated evidence raises doubt in the mind of the court, and such doubt must be resolved in favour of the Defendant.
The Honourable Court in its Judgment held that the Prosecution failed to answer a very important question, which is, who violated the victim? In the entirety of the Prosecution’s case, there was no direct, cogent, or unequivocal evidence to determine that the Defendant defiled the alleged victim. The only witness that alleged the Defendant defiled the alleged victim was the alleged victim herself. By the provisions of the Evidence Act, the evidence of a child must be corroborated.
The Court therefore held that the fact that the prosecution witnesses could not establish unequivocal evidence to establish that the penetration that occurred was by the Defendant has raised doubt in the mind of the court. The Court thereby found in favour of the Defendant that the Defendant is not guilty. The Defendant was consequently discharged and acquitted.