A Bayelsa State High Court sitting in Sagbama, Yenagoa has sentenced one Timiondu Jephthah to 10 years imprisonment for raping a five-year-old girl to death.
The 21-year-old convict raped the girl to death at Akede community in Sagbama Local Government Area of the state in 2016.
Jephthah, who was 16 at the time, dumped her corpse in an abandoned fish pond close to his residence.
Standing as the counsel to the victim’s family was a lawyer and Gender Advocate, Deme Pamosoo.
He ensured that the victim’s body was recovered, an autopsy conducted by the Police and a watertight case file was presented to the State Ministry of Justice for the Director of Public Prosecution to recommend trial.
In his ruling in the suit numbered SHC/4C/2016 with a one-count charge of murder brought against the accused by the State Ministry of Justice, the trial judge, Justice E.G Omukoro, declared that the charge becomes manslaughter due to the inability of the prosecution to prove the intent to commit murder.
After considering the defendant’s plea of allocutus, the judge declared that the court is mindful of the youthful age of the defendant who could be redeemed and make amends by way of atonement for his action.
He, therefore, ordered that the defendant be detained at the Okaka Correctional Centre in Yenagoa or elsewhere as the Governor pleases, for a period of 10 years at the pleasure of the State.
The Acting Chairperson of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Mrs Ebimietei Ekeowei Ottah, welcomed the ruling, describing it as a victory to the victims of rape, defilement and violence against women in the state.
“It is a sound warning to the general public that it is no longer business as usual in Bayelsa state. Once you are brought before the law, the law will take its course and catch up with you.
“It has been a worrisome practice in Bayelsa State and more worrisome are the issue of negotiation with culprits by parents of victims of defilement or rape. It can no longer be tolerated or swept under the carpet as settlement. We call on parents, teachers, neighbours and guardians to be vigilant and speak out against cases of rape, defilement and violence against women in the state.”