In a recent verdict, Justice Rahman Oshodi of the Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court has sentenced Olawale Olarewaju, a security guard, to life imprisonment. The charges stemmed from Olarewaju’s involvement in a case of sexual intercourse with a 12-year-old girl.
The judge expressed dissatisfaction with the Ikoyi Custodial Centre for the prolonged delays and lapses in bringing the defendant, who had been in prison custody for eight years, to court.
Justice Oshodi highlighted the historical challenges in the case, noting that Justice Sybil Nwaka (retd) had previously struck it out due to lapses in diligent prosecution. The custodial centre failed to produce Olarewaju before the court for arraignment, despite the issuance of a reproduction warrant between 2016 and 2019.
“The defendant was in the Ikoyi Custodial Centre and remained there for about eight years from the day of his remand until he was produced before me on January 3, 2023 for arraignment. The proceedings demonstrated gaps in the operation of the Nigeria Correctional Service. It is mind-boggling to hear that the defendant has been in Ikoyi Custodial Centre since 2016 but was brought to court for the first time in 2023. The correctional centre was directly responsible for the defendant’s long period of awaiting trial and this is appalling.”
In his judgment, Oshodi held that the prosecution proved the ingredients of defilement with charge number LD/2359C/2016 against the defendant. The judge stated that the survivor, ( now 18 years old) testified before the court that she was 13 years when the incident happened and that the convict was a security guard at a construction site.
He said that the survivor told the court that the convict forcefully had sex with her when she went to fetch water at the site.
“The prosecutrix gave her testimony and said that she went to fetch water at the construction site where the defendant (convict) worked when he came from her back, closed her mouth, and found herself in the room with him. She said that the defendant ‘tore my clothe, and forcefully had sex with me and I started having pains in my vagina. She testified further that she informed her parents about the incident and her father reported the case at the nearest police station. The prosecutrix further told the court that she was taken to Mirabel Medical Centre for examination.”
The judge held that the the evidence of the survivor was corroborated with that of her father who was the Prosecution Witness Two. He said the survivor gave a vivid and unshaken testimony of what the defendant did to her.
“I believe her. The defendant’s denial does not hold water as he admitted knowing the prosecutrix but made a u-turn during cross-examination that he did not know her. He also admitted that the prosecution came to the compound to fetch water,” he said
The judge held that Olarewaju contradicted himself and made his evidence-in-chief unreliable.
He thereafter convicted him of the charge and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The judge added that the convict’s name should be entered in the Sexual Offences Register maintained by the Lagos State Government.