By Babatunde Ayedoju
Emmanuel Titus, a farmer based in Ile-Oluji, has been sentenced to 14 years behind the bars for raping his 14-year- old daughter, Deborah Emmanuel, after the death of her mother few years ago.
He was dragged by his neighbours to the police station and based on a report that was initially made at the police station by leaders of the Uben Camp in Ile-Oluji, Titus was arraigned on a two count charge bordering on unlawful sexual intercourse with a child.
The offense is said to be contrary to and punishable under Section 31 (1) and (2) of the Child’s Rights Law of Ondo State, 2007.
On January 22, 2021, at about 10 p.m in Uben Camp via Ile-Oluji, the defendant had carnal knowledge of his daughter and repeated the act on January 25, 2021 at about 10 pm.
Testifying before the Ondo State High Court, Akure, Inspector Ogunlere Oluwafemi from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Akure, said that on January 23, 2021, a case of defilement was transferred from Ile-Oluji Divisional Police Headquarters to the State CID where he was detailed to investigate the matter.
He said that the case was transferred by Inspector Bello Jamiu. Ogunlere gave the names of the complainant and prosecutor as Adeolu Ojo and Deborah Emmanuel respectively.
Inspector Ogunlere told the court that his investigation revealed that in January 2021, the defendant held the victim to the ground, and forcefully had carnal knowledge of her. This was said to have happened at about 7:30 pm on the fateful day while both of them were returning from the farm.
Ogunlere testified that the defendant repeated the act when the duo got home. At this point, the victim’s cry for help attracted neighbours who reported the matter to the head of their camp, known as Oloja. The Oloja was said to have appointed Adeolu Ojo to report the matter to the police, after which the victim was taken to the hospital for examination.
Ogunlere, placing reliance on a claim reportedly made by Adeolu Ojo, said that the defendant confessed at the Oloja’s palace that he committed the crime. Ogunlere added that the defendant also confessed at the police station that he committed the crime but attributed it to a spell from the devil. That was after making his statement in the presence of a lawyer from the Legal Aid Council.
Although, the defendant disowned the statement that was tendered by the police in his name, the court admitted that statement, to determine its weight.
Under cross examination by the defence counsel, Alhaji Shehu Wada Abdullahi, Inspector Ogunlere admitted that he did not visit the crime scene, that is the farm and the house, because the defendant already confessed to the crime.
Next, the prosecution invited their second witness, Inspector Bello Jamiu from Ile-Oluji Divisional Police headquarters. Inspector Bello corroborated Inspector Ogunlere’s testimony.
However, Bello added that based on his investigation, the victim’s mother was late. Being the only surviving daughter, Deborah had to live with her father, the defendant. However, Bello said that when he visited the camp, he gathered that some relatives had taken Deborah to Akwa-Ibom State.
While being led in evidence by the defence counsel, Titus denied all the allegations brought against him. He said that after the burial of the victim’s mother, due to financial constraints, he allowed the victim work for Adeolu Ojo on his farm.
He claimed that his daughter used to show him money given to her by Ojo. He further claimed that Ojo had the intention of marrying her. Titus stated that he frowned at Ojo’s move and reported him to his (Ojo’s) wife.
Titus said that his disapproval of Ojo’s intention to marry his daughter made Ojo instigate the police against him. He also stated that he did not write the statement that was tendered in the court by the police.
The defence counsel, in his final written address, submitted that the two police witnesses never mentioned that there was penetration of the victim by the defendant.
While noting that the prosecution counsel failed to call the nominal complainant as a witness, the defence counsel submitted that the totality of the prosecution’s evidence did not sufficiently link the defendant with the crime. He, therefore, urged the court to discharge and acquit the defendant.
In their final written address, the prosecution, led by Bunmi Koyenikan Esq, held that the police witnesses gave evidence that the defendant admitted he committed the crime.
She made reference to the statements of the victim and the defendant at the State CID office, alongside statements of the victim and the complainant at the Ile-Oluji Divisional Police headquarters, all of which had been admitted earlier by the court. She added that the medical report showed there was penetration.
Relying on relevant provisions of the law, Koyenikan added that it was immaterial whether the victim gave consent or not, being a minor.
In his judgement, Justice W. R. Olamide pointed out that since the nominal complainant was not in court to be cross examined and the prosecution did not state his whereabouts, the court lacked jurisdiction to act on his statement. Therefore, he said, “As it stands, the only evidence that is available at the disposal of the court is the viva voce of the PW1 and PW2 and the confessional statement of the defendant, i.e. Exhibits P2 and P6.
The judge upheld that the defendant’s confessional statement, as tendered in the court, passed all relevant tests to make it admissible, adding that, “The law is that the retraction of a confessional statement does not affect its admissibility and use in sustaining a conviction.”
The judge said, “Aside the fact that the court found Exhibits P2 and P6 voluntary and direct confession of the defendant, Exhibit P3, a medical report, further cleared the doubt which the court might have had about the culpability of the defendant.”
Satisfied that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt, the court found Emmanuel Titus guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse and sentenced him to 14 years imprisonment.