By Onozure Dania
Lagos – A Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere Monday sentenced an EX- Exxon Mobil engineer, James Onuoha to 15 years imprisonment for raping his tenant’s 14-year- old niece.
Justice Adedayo Akintoye sentenced him without an option of fine.
At the last adjourned date, on January 14, 2020, the court had adjourned the case until March 25, for judgment, after the parties adopted their final written addresses.
But the judgment could not be delivered due to the COVID- 19 pandemic which led to lockdown in March.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, the Lagos State Prosecuting counsel Mr Babatunde Sunmonu announced his appearance and the defence counsel Dr Victor Olowonla, also announced his appearance.
However delivering judgment, Justice Akintoye, sentenced him to 15 years jail term without an option of fine after finding Onouah guilty of the offence of rape.
Before handing down the verdict, the convict’s counsel, Dr Victor Olowonla, in his allocutus pleaded with the court to tender justice with mercy as he was a first time offender.
He said. ” My lord, he is a first time offender, he is a family man with wife and children and also the breadwinner of his family”.
” He has lost his job since this case came up, going by the circumstances of this case, I urge my lord to tender justice with mercy, ” Olowonla said.
Onouah 42, was arraigned by the Lagos State Government, for allegedly raping his tenant’s 14-year-old niece.
He was first arraigned in January 2016 at the Magistrates’ Court on a four-count charge of defilement.
Onouah was remanded in Kirikiri correctional centre pending legal advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Following his indictment by the DPP, the case was transferred to the high court for trial.
The state government accused Onuoha of committing the alleged offences on January 4, 2016, at 11:30 a.m., at 25, Samuel Amoore Street, Idowu Estate, Ike-Ira Nla, Ajah, Lagos.
The prosecution led by Dr. Jide Martins said the defendant willfully had an unlawful sexual act with the teenager without her consent.
He said the offences contravened Sections 134 (2), 135 (1), and is punishable under Sections 137 and 258 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
Onuoha, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The prosecution opened its case and called witnesses including the victim.
After the prosecution closed its case, Onuoha opened his defence and was led in evidence by the defence counsel, Dr Victor Olowonla.
The defendant told the court how he visited his 25, Samuel Amoore Street, Idowu Estate, Ike-Ira Nla, residence on that fateful day.