Tony Osauzo, Benin
Igarra Magistrates’ Court in Edo State, has sentenced a 53-year -old man, Vincent Akande, to 14 years imprisonment without option of fine for raping a 14-year -old sick girl.
According to the prosecutor, Sergeant Samuel Obeze, the convict on May 12, 2019 ,had carnal knowledge of the survivor when she was by the river side at Igbetua, sieving sands to get some money for her family.
At the trial, the victim told the court that Akande, a vigilante, accosted her while she was packing sand from the river and threatened her with a Dane gun before she surrendered to him. She further told the court that Akande threatened to kill her like a three- year- old girl who was raped and strangled to death by the same river side few weeks earlier. She told the court that it was the third time; Akande forcefully abused her and threatened to kill her if she dared report to her parents.
She said that when she could no longer bear the agony of forceful rape, she reported the matter to her step mother, and her father who took the matter to the community head.
The father, Haruna Osheku, said that the community agreed that Akande should pay a fine of a female goat and N5,000 for his offence,but he refused before a none -governmental organisation, Brave Heart Initiative for Youth & Women (BHI),took up the matter and Akande was then charged to court.
Akande was charged with having unlawful carnal knowledge without consent and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 257 and punishable under section 258 of the Criminal Code Cap 48 Vol. II Laws of the defunct Bendel State of Nigeria 1976, as applicable in Edo State.
Akande ,however,pleaded not guilty to the charge. But Chief Magistrate Nosa Musoe, found him guilty and sentenced him to 14 years imprisonment without option of fine.
Musoe, described Akande as a cunning man who is deeply deceitful. “I have the privilege of watching the defendant throughout this trial. He is a very cunning man and deeply deceitful. I therefore, find the defendant guilty as charged. I have been in this district for the past three years; the rate of rape of young girls is on the rise. I hereby sentence the defendant to 14 years imprisonment without an option of fine. I must confess that this is one of the most difficult cases I have to handle in my career as a judge, very difficult and very painful. If you have daughters at home please tell your daughters to keep themselves.
“So let this go out to everywhere that this man has been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment and let those who still engage in raping of innocent girls know that if they get caught, there will be no mercy and you are lucky enough that the case is in my court and the law empowers me to give you 14 years if it was in the High Court, you will be in prison for life “, Musoe said .
The founder and executive director BHI, Ms Priscilla Usiobaifo, applauded the court for jailing Akande over the brutal rape of a teenager.
“This verdict offers a glint of hope for justice to sexual assault survivors in a country where security agencies, health workers,traditional stakeholders and many first responders show low interest and willingness to sanction sexual offenders,” she said.