Okon Bassey in Uyo
Without any option of fine, an Uyo High Court, Akwa Ibom State capital, has convicted a middle aged man, Godwin Ime Alex, to life imprisonment for raping a young girl, Miss. Nancy Michael Ekerefre at gunpoint about three years ago.
Justice G. E. Archibong, who passed the judgment said the prosecution had in the course of the trial proved the charge of rape beyond all reasonable doubts, but pardoned the convict on the second charge of stealing â€œfor want of evidenceâ€.
The prosecution had told the court that the convict had on November 25, 2014, along Abak Road, Uyo, dragged one Miss. Nancy Michael Ekefre, to the back of the Corpersâ€™ Lodge and forcefully had canal knowledge of her.
The victim who testified before the Court, said: â€œAs i was returning from a visit to a friend on the said date when I passed through a narrow path, I was accosted by Alex, who was pretending to be defecatingâ€.
Alex, she said threatened to shoot her if she would not cooperate with him, saying the fear of being shot, coupled with the fact that nobody was on sight to rescue her, the convict had the upper hand.
â€œAt that point, he (Alex) dragged me behind the Corpersâ€™ Lodge and commanded me to hold the fence, stripped me off my trousers and forcefully penetrated without my consentâ€, she narrated.
In the confessional statement tendered by the prosecution, the convict confessed to the crime, admitting â€œI ordered her to hold the fence and I inserted my penis into her vagina and sexed her.â€
The court listed grounds under which a suspect in such circumstances can be convicted within three evidential conditions including testimony of eyewitnesses, confessional statement of an accused and circumstantial evidence.
Other grounds include that â€œa man must have canal knowledge of a woman without her consent or the consent was obtained under duress, intimidation, fear, impersonation, or false pretence, which resulted in penetration and that evidence of the complainant must be corroborated.â€
Accordingly, the court held that the evidence of the victim was adequately corroborated by the confessional evidence of the accused person, disclosing that â€œthe statement was admitted in evidence without the accused raising any objection that it was obtained by oppressionâ€.
Amid tears, the convict pleaded for mercy, saying â€œI have realised that what I did was totally wrongâ€. His counsel also pleaded that his client should be handed a lesser punishment since he was a first offender.
Justice Archibong ignored their pleas and sent the accused to jail for life, saying the decision followed a painstaking investigation and establishment of the truth through the statements of two parties.
â€œConsidering the graphic description of how he raped the PW1 in his confessional statement, it was easy to conclude that the accused person was a callous and heartless rapist, who deserves the maximum sentence for his offence,â€ he declared.