By Adenike Ayodele, Ikeja.
The Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court in Ikeja, Lagos, on Thursday sentenced a man, Sunday Nwokolo, to life imprisonment for defiling a 12-year-old girl.
The judge, Justice Ramon Oshodi, held that the prosecution had successfully proved the charge of defilement against the defendant.
He said: “The prosecution referred to Section 137 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Law (ACJL), which prescribes life imprisonment.
“I do not have discretion in this matter but to refer to you as a paedophile, a liar and a dangerous offender.
“I refer to you as a liar because despite the evidence, you lied against the police at Agboju Police Station and the gender section of the police force.
“You are a dangerous offender because the survivor said that when you defiled her, blood came out of her vagina and you took her to the bathroom to clean up, yet you said it was her menstrual flow.
“You are a dangerous offender because the victim suffered immensely in your hands and no other child should be made to suffer similar fate.
“You are hereby found guilty and charged, and hereby sentenced to life imprisonment.”
The judge, however, expressed misgivings about Section 137 of the ACJL, which, in a way, “ties the hands of judges by proscribing mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for offender without any discretion to a sitting judge.’’
He also called on lawyers requesting mercy to approach the lawmakers to see the possibility of amending that section of the law.
“The legislature made it difficult for the courts because it has no discretion in this case, as we speak, except the lawmakers amend the law,’’ he said.
The defence counsel, Mr Chris Mbajike, had earlier prayed the court to temper justice with mercy, arguing that the defendant was a first-time offender and law-abiding citizen.
“My lord, the defendant has shown remorse and he does not have any case with the police prior to this incident.
“We plead on his behalf that the court should temper justice with mercy,” he said.
The state counsel, Ms. Bukola Okeowo, however, urged the court to uphold Section 137 of the ACJL and sentence the defendant accordingly.
“The defendant has been found guilty and I urge the judge to sentence him, according to Section 137 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State,” she said.