Lagos State High Court has sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, a former staff member of an oil company, ExxonMobi, who raped a 14-year-old niece of one of his tenants on Monday.
Justice Adedayo Akintoye of the Igbosere High Court sentenced the former oil worker, 45-year-old James Onuoha, who is the landlord of the apartment at No. 25, Samuel Amoore Street, Idowu Estate, Ike-Ira Nla, Ajah, Lagos.
According to the Lagos State Ministry of Justice which prosecuted the case against Onuoha, the government accused him of raping the girl on January 4, 2016.
Onuoha, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, hence the prosecution opened its case and called witnesses, including the victim.
After the prosecution closed its case, Onuoha opened his defence, narrating to the court how he visited the house to ask for rent from his tenant who was not at home only to meet the girl at home.
Onuoha said the victim was the only person at home, adding that he entered the apartment to inspect it and thereafter gave her N1,000 as Christmas gift.
On January 14, the court had adjourned the case until March 25 for judgment after the parties adopted their final written addresses
But judgment could not be pronounced due to the situation in the country, which led to lockdown of almost all sectors of the economy in March, including the judiciary.
However, at the resumed hearing on Monday, the Lagos State Prosecuting Counsel, Mr Babatunde Sunmonu, and the defence counsel, Dr Victor Olowonla, announced their appearance.
Before the judgment was handed down, Olowonla, in his allocutus, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy as Onuoha was a first-time offender.
My lord, he is a first-time offender; he is a family man with wife and children, and also the breadwinner of his family. He has lost his job since this case came up; going by the circumstances of this case, I urge my lord to temper justice with mercy,” he said.
Onouah, who was charged to court by the Lagos State government, was first arraigned in January 2016 at the Magistrates’ Court on a four-count charge bordering on defilement.
Onuoha was remanded in Kirikiri correctional centre pending legal advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).