Tony Osauzo, Benin
A sexually-depraved 53-year old man, Vincent Akande, has bagged 14 years imprisonment without option of fine from Igarra Magistrate’s Court in Edo State for forcefully having canal knowledge of a 14-year old epileptic girl, Mamuna Haruna Osheku in Ososo.
According to the prosecutor, Sergeant Samuel Obeze, the incident happened on May 12, 2019, when Mamuna was by the riverside at Igbetua sieving sands to get some money for the family.
At the trial, Mamuna told the court that Akande, a vigilance member, 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, adding that the incident was the third time that Akande would forcefully have canal knowledge of her and threatened to kill her if she dared to report to her parents.
Mamuna said when she could no longer bear the agony of forceful rape she reported the matter to her stepmother and her father who took the matter to the community head.
Mamuna’s father, Haruna Osheku, said the community agreed that Akande should pay a fine of a female goat and N5,000 for his offence but he refused before BraveHeart Initiative for Youth & Women BHI, took up the matter and he was then charged to court.
Akande, according to the prosecutor, Sergeant Samuel Obeze, was charged to court for having canal knowledge of Mamuna without her 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 Magistrate Chief Nosa Musoe, found him guilty and sentenced him to 14 years imprisonment without an option of fine.
In his judgment, Chief Magistrate 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 sentenced 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 High Court, for life you will be in prison,” the magistrate said.
Reacting to the judgment, the founder and executive director of BraveHeart Initiative for Youth & Women BHI, Ms Priscilla Usiobaifo, expressed joy over the verdict against Vincent Akande for the brutal rape of a teenage girl, Mamuna Osheku.
“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.
She explained that when BHI intervened in the case, the team noticed apathy in some community members as many of them felt Persons with Disabilities (PWD) didn’t deserve certain rights especially with regard to sexual rights.
“Generally, the society’s attitude to the sexual and reproductive right issues of PWD is biased, uninformed and based on ignorance of the rights of this vulnerable group. Many of the community members do not see reason why a PWD should report sexual assault let alone seek redress,” Usiobaifo observed.