An Ogun State High Court, sitting in Isabo, Abeokuta yesterday sentenced a retired soldier, Alabi Ibrahim to life imprisonment for repeatedly raping his 10-year-old stepdaughter and infecting her with Human Immuno deficiency Virus, HIV.
According to court papers, the convict committed the crime in 2012 in his home where both the victim and her mother live.
The case was instituted by the Ogun State Chapter of Child Protection Network, CPN, an umbrella body of Non-Governmental Organisations, NGOs, which fight for the rights of children.
Medical report presented in the case number AB/37/C/14 from the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta established that the convict had sexually assaulted the girl and also infected her with HIV.
The report presented by Dr Seyi Adejobi affirmed that after the defilement, medical investigation showed that the girl’s vagina had been penetrated, while blood investigation also revealed that she had contracted HIV.
In her testimony, the assaulted girl told the court that she had lost count on the number of times her stepfather had slept with her, saying that at the end of every sexual act, the convict would threaten that she would die if she told anybody.
Counsel to the convict, Adebola Okudoro in his plea, argued that allegation against his client was hearsay, and appealed to the court to temper justice with mercy, in seeing that his client was not sentenced.
‘My Lord, the accused person is a first offender. The health of the accused should be put into consideration. He is infected with HIV, and will need access to medical attention, which is very expensive, and there are no such facilities in the prison. The accused person is the breadwinner of the family. He has several dependents. We pray the court to temper justice with mercy’, the counsel pleaded.
However, in his judgement, Justice A.A Akinyemi said the accused faced a one count charge of having sexual intercourse with the child, an offence, he said, which was contrary to section three of Child Rights Law, noting that the court was convinced of the allegation against the accused.
Akinyemi added that the girl’s testimony during cross examination showed that she was telling the truth, and not tutored and there were concrete evidence that she had been sexually assaulted.
‘The court is convinced about the girl’s evidence. She is intelligent, and she remained consistent during cross examination. She does not seem to have been tutored. I find her evidence credible. Evidence of her mother corroborated her own’, the judge stated.
Akinyemi also made reference to the medical report which showed that the accused infected the girl with HIV, stressing that, the convict’s action has brought a permanent stigma on the innocent girl.
The judge further explained that evidence of the medical report does not suggest that the girl had earlier been sexually assaulted as claimed by the convict.
He also nullified argument that there was no eyewitness account on the sex allegation, pointing out that those who “engage in rape do not employ the service of a cameraman, rather the witnesses are the accused and the respondent.”