A Lagos High Court, sitting in Ikeja, on Thursday discharged and acquitted a middle-aged man, Friday Ikhenoba, of a charge of sexual assault on his neighbour’s five-year-old child.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Hakeem Oshodi who delivered the judgement online held that the charge lacked merit.
The acquittal took place five years after the arraignment of Ikhenoba.
Oshodi said that the prosecution did not provide sufficient evidence to secure Ikhenoba’s conviction.
“While it is accepted that a court can act on the evidence of a single witness if such a witness is credible, that is not the same in this case.
“The sole witness is the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) who only narrated what was told to her and the actions she carried out on receiving the information.
“She did not witness the commission of the crime, the judge said.
According to him, the IPO’s evidence in respect of the alleged crime is hearsay as it was not corroborated.
“The only direct evidence is the actions she took after listening to the complaints of the mother.
“It cannot be overstated that hearsay evidence is inadmissible,” he said.
Oshodi held that the alleged offence was also not corroborated with medical evidence, adding that the complainant did not come to testify in court.
Acquitting Ikhenoba, the judge said: “The court agrees with the contention of the learned counsel to the defendant that the ingredients of the offence of sexual assault by penetration has not been proved.
“With this in mind, the defendant took the right option not to proffer any evidence, as the case of the prosecution does not meet the standard required to be challenged.
“The court holds that the prosecution has been unable to prove the allegation, and finds Friday Ikhenoba not guilty of the the sole count charge.
“Accordingly, the defendant is hereby discharged and acquitted. This is the judgment of the court.”
On hearing the judgment, Ikhenoba who was attending the proceedings online from the Ikoyi Correctional Centre, where he had been on remand, heaved a sigh of relief, raising his hands in elation.
Reacting to the judgment, defence counsel, Mr S. A Ebebe said: “We are grateful, my lord. As the late Justice Oputa used to say, there must be justice for the state, justice for the complainant and justice for the accused.
“I have seen this displayed today, we are most grateful.”
NAN reports that the defendant was tried on a count charge of sexual assault by penetration, contrary to Section 259 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011.
The prosecution led by Mr M. T. Adewoye, had alleged said the defendant had at 7.00p.m. on Aug. 14, 2015, at the Alagbado area of Lagos, sexually assaulted his neighbour’s five-year-old daughter by penetrating her private part with his finger.
The defendant had pleaded not guilty to the charge on arraignment on June 28, 2017, while the trial began on July 12, 2017.
Only the IPO, Sgt. Victory Michael, testified for the prosecution. (NAN)