By Suzan Edeh
Bauchi—An Assistant Headmaster of Jibril Aminu Model Primary School in Bauchi, who was standing trial for rape, was yesterday discharged and acquitted by Bauchi State High Court 7.
The Assistant Headmaster, Mr. James Dantayi, had earlier been charged with raping a nine-year-old pupil of the school (names withheld).
In his judgement, the Chief Judge of the State High Court, Justice Aliyu Usman, held that the accused was arraigned and charged for rape at the state High Court of Justice on December 23, 2013, punishable under Section 283 of the Penal Code.
According to Justice Usman, under the provisions of Section 35(5) of the Nigerian Constitution (as amended), it is not the duty of an accused to prove his innocence.
He stressed that the onus of proof rested with the accuser.
The judge said: “It is not the duty of an accused to prove his innocence, it is the accuser that must prove the accused person’s guilt.
“Where there are gaps or conflicting versions in the evidence adduced by the prosecution, the court will take the version favourable to the accused.”
The Chief Judge maintained that the prosecution also failed to produce the police statement that the accused person made when he was arrested in 2013.
He held: “The prosecution also failed to prove that the accused was at the premises of the school at the time when it was said the act took place. Accordingly, the accused is hereby discharged and acquitted.”
Speaking after the judgement, counsel to the Assistant Headmaster, Obadiah Bichi, said his client had been vindicated because it was a traumatic experience to have the man docked for raping a pupil of the primary school for which he was absolutely innocent.