Legal Nigeria

By Simon Utebor, Yenagoa

Sagbama High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State has sentenced a 21-year-old man, Timiondu Jephtah, to 10 years imprisonment over his indictment for manslaughter in the rape of a girl, aged five, to death in 2016 at Akede community of Sagbama Local Government Area of the state.

The Presiding Judge, Justice E.G. Umukoro, in his ruling in suit No. SHC/4C/2016, with one count of murder brought against the accused by the State Ministry of Justice, declared that the charge became manslaughter due to the inability of the prosecution to prove the alleged intent to commit murder.

Umukoro after considering the defendant’s plea of allocutus declared that the court was mindful of the youthful age of the defendant who could be redeemed and make amends by way of atonement for his action.

He, therefore, ordered that the defendant be detained at the Okaka Correctional Centre, Yenagoa, or elsewhere as the Governor of the state might determine for a period of 10 years.

Recall that in 2016, the accused who was aged 16 was arrested for raping the minor to death and flinging her lifeless body into an abandoned fishpond close to his residence.

A lawyer, Deme Pamosoo Esq., who acted as the counsel for the victim’s parents ensured that the victim’s body was recovered, autopsy conducted by the police and a water tight case file presented to the State Ministry of Justice for the Director of Public Prosecution’s recommendation for trial.

Reacting to the development, Acting Chairperson of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Ebimietei Ekeowei Ottah, described the ruling as a victory to the victims of rape, defilement and violence against women in the state.

She said: “It is a sound warning to the general public that it is no longer business as usual in Bayelsa state. Once you are brought before the law, the law will take its course and catch up with you.

“It has been a worrisome practice in Bayelsa State and more worrisome is the issue of negotiation with culprits by parents of victims of defilement or rape. It can no longer be tolerated as settlement or swept under the carpet. We call on parents, teachers, neighbours and guardians to be vigilant and speak out against cases of rape, defilement and violence against women in the state.”

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