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Landlord sentenced to 15-year jail term over rape of tenant’s niece

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Justice Adedayo Akintoye of Igbosere High Court in Lagos has sentenced James Onuoha to 15 years jail term for raping his tenant’s 14-year-old niece.

The 42-year-old landlord and engineer was sentenced without an option of fine.

POLITICS NIGERIA gathered that the court had in January, adjourned the case until March 25, for judgment, after the parties adopted their final written addresses.

However, the judgement could not be pronounced because of the COVID- 19 pandemics, which has grounded activities in almost all sectors of the economy in March.

At the resumed hearing on Monday, the Lagos State Prosecuting Counsel, Mr Babatunde Sunmonu, and the defence counsel, Dr. Victor Olowonla, announced their appearance.

Before the verdict was handed down, Olowonla, in his allocutions, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy as Onuoha was a first-time offender.

“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 temper justice with mercy,” he said.

Onouah, who was charged to court by the Lagos State Government, was first arraigned in January 2016 at the Magistrates’ Court on a four-count charge bordering on defilement.

Onuoha was remanded in Kirikiri correctional centre pending legal advice of 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 Jan. 4, 2016, at No.25, Samuel Amoore Street, Idowu Estate, Ike-Ira Nla, Ajah, Lagos.

The prosecution said the defendant willfully had an unlawful sexual act with the teenager.

He said the offences contravened Sections 137 and 258 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.

Onuoha, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, hence the prosecution opened its case and called witnesses, including the victim.

After the prosecution closed its case, Onuoha opened his defence,  narrating to the court how he visited his house at the above address to ask for rent from his tenant who was not at home at the time of his visit.

Onuoha said the victim was the only person at home, adding that he entered the apartment to inspect it and thereafter gave the victim N1, 000 as Christmas gift.

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