An Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court on Monday discharged and acquitted a bricklayer, Godspower Iporu, charged with abducting and defiling his neighbor’s 12-year-old daughter.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Justice Abiola Soladoye held that prosecution failed to establish the two-count charge of defilement of a child and abduction from custody of parents against Mr Iporu.
Ms Soladoye said that prosecution – Lagos State Government – failed to present the alleged survivor, who should be the star witness, to testify against the defendant.
According to her, the alleged survivor ought to be in court to testify.
She said: “All the evidence adduced before this court, both oral and document, no matter how beautifully presented, cannot lead to the conviction of the defendant in the absence of the star witness to testify as to whether or not she was abducted from the custody of her parents.
“Evidence of the survivor in this case is very crucial as her evidence would have corroborated the testimonies of other prosecution witnesses.
“The defendant is not found guilty of the two-count charge, and he is hereby discharged and acquitted.”
NAN reports that the judge said there was need for survivors to be encouraged to come forward and testify before court.
“They must be encouraged, by being physically present, to give accounts of their encounters in the hands of their assailants, so that the court can listen attentively.
“All the stakeholders in the administration of justice, particularly the police, counsel at the ministry of justice and private practices should, as a matter of fact, speak to their clients to present themselves in court, otherwise the case of this nature will be a colossal waste of time,” Ms Soladoye said.
Lagos State Government had alleged that Mr Iporu abducted the alleged survivor from his parents for three days and sexually defiled her.
The alleged offenses contravene Sections 137 and 269 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.