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Alleged Gang-rape: 5 UNILAG Students Re-arraigned

By Francis Iwuchukwu, Lagos 

For allegedly gang-raping a 17-year-old student of the institution (name withheld), five students of the University of Lagos, UNILAG, were on Thursday (today) re-arraigned before an Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court.

The suspected students were re-arraigned before the court, presided over by Justice Abiola Soladoye, by the Lagos State government.

Those re-arraigned are Moboluwaji Omowole, 19, Chuka Chukwu, 19, Peace Nwankama, 19, James Aguedu, 20 and Josephine Osemeka, 20.

The affected students had earlier been arraigned on February 26, 2019 and they had pleaded not guilty to a three-count charge that had to do with defilement of a child, permitting the defilement of a child in a premises and pro-curation.

Prior to today's sitting on the case, the day had been slated for the cross-examination of the complainant but the prosecution had insisted that owing to the existence of new facts that came up from the February 26, 2019 testimony of the complainant, the defendants were re-arraigned on an amended five-count charge.

While the re-arraignment lasted, the UNILAG students plead not guilty to the new charges of defilement of a child, permitting defilement of a child, procuration and sexual assault.

In his argument before the court, lawyer to the Lagos State government, Jide Martins revealed that the defendants committed the offences sometime in 2017 at the UNILAG, Akoka, Lagos.

According to Martins, “Omowole, Chukwu and Aguedo sometime in the month January and sometime in the month of February 2017 defiled the complainant by having unlawful sexual intercourse with her.

“Chukwu sometime in January 2017 at No. 25, Shobande St., Akoka, Yaba, Lagos knowingly allowed Omowole to defile the complainant by having unlawful sexual intercourse with her.

“Nwankama, Aguedo and Osameka between the months of January to March 2017 were into the procuration (obtaining) of young girls for the purpose of defilement.

“Osemeka sometime in the month of January 2017, in UNILAG, sexually assaulted the complainant by kissing her.” 

The offence according to the prosecution contravenes the provisions of sections 137, 138, 140(1)(a) and 263 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2015.

Consequent upon their re-arraignment, Adebisi Ademuwagun, lawyer to Omowole requested for an adjournment in order to re-strategise in view of the new charges.

The lawyer said, “The charge against the first defendant (Omowole) has increased from one to two and different dates and venues have also been introduced in the charge.

“It is our humble submission that the first defendant be given ample opportunity to prepare to meet this charge in accordance with the requirement of fair hearing as contained on Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.

“When the penalty for which the first defendant is charged is heavy which is life imprisonment, it isn’t our intention to delay the trial but it is our duty to assist this court in its duties.

“We would be pleading with your lordship to allow this matter to be adjourned to give the first defendant the opportunity to prepare his case.”

On their part, R.A Oshodi, lawyer to Chukwu, O. C Aigbangbee, counsel to Nwankama, O. C Fapohunda, counsel to Aguedu and Ken Edechime, lawyer to Osemeka aligned themselves to the submission of Ademuwagun.

This prompted the presiding Justice Soladoye in a brief ruling to hold that, “Having listened to the submissions of both the defence and prosecution counsel, it is in the interest of justice that sufficient time be given to counsel to evaluate and re-strategise.

“This case is adjourned till October 15, 2019.

It would be recalled that the complainant had on February 26, testified that she was lured by Nwankama who was her roommate to High Rise, a staff quarters hostel at UNILAG.

She said she was gang-raped at High Rise by eight male students and sexually assaulted by Osemeka.

She alleged that the gang-rape and sexual assault at High Rise was video taped.

According to the complainant, she was also blackmailed with the video and further gang-raped on other occasions by the defendants and their accomplices who are now at large.

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