Abakaliki High Court 3, Wednesday, sentenced one Uchenna Ali, 24yrs old from Umuogudu Osha Ngbo in Ohaukwu local government area, of Ebonyi State, to 7years imprisonment with hard labour for raping 18 year old girl, from Umuogudu Akpu Ngbo, still in Ohaukwu.
Ali was 24yrs old when the incident happened in 2015, while the victim was 18years old.
The convict was also denied option of bail by the High court Judge, Hon. Justice Destina Oko, who ruled on the matter.
In a charge no. HKWCC/2017, made available to our correspondent, Ali was accused of having carnal knowledge of the plaintiff (name withheld) without her consent.
The charge sheet reads: “That you, Uchenna Ali ‘m’ on the 11th day of July, 2015 at Oriaja Umuogudu Akpu Ngbo in the Ohaukwu Magisterial District, did have unlawful carnal knowledge of blessing without her consent and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 358 of the Criminal Code Cap. 33 Vol. 1 Laws of Ebonyi State 2009”.
In her ruling, Justice Oko Stated: “The defendant is guilty as charged and is hereby sentenced to 7yrs imprisonment with hard labour without the option of fine”.
Earlier, the defendant’s lawyer, Barrister Friday Akpo, represented at the court by a junior lawyer, Barrister Ben Nwoye, pleaded the court to tamper Justice with mercy, stating that his client was a first time offender and the bread winner of the family.
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Barrister Ijeoma Mike- Ajanwachukwu, Gender Desk Officer in charge of Child Abuse/Trafficking, Ministry of Justice, Ebonyi State in an interview, said the incident happened on July 11, 2015 at Oriaja Umuogudu Akpu Ngbo in Ohaukwu local government area of Ebonyi State.
According to her, Ali at the time of the incident was an ‘okada’ rider who had picked the victim as a passenger from Okwor market were she sells okpa only to rape her on their way, claiming that she was underpaying him.
She narrated: “It’s just a case of rape, it happened in 2015 at Ohaukwu. It involved a lady of about 18years then, she was selling Okpa at Okwor market.
“Between 7:30 to 8pm that fateful day while going home at the closure of business she boarded a bike belonging to the defendant, then he was an ‘Okada’ rider.
“Before entering the bike, the man said the cost was N200 naira but the lady insisted on N50 naira, even when the ‘okada’ man said N100 naira she still insisted on N50 naira.
“The man then asked her to enter. On getting to a terrible spot called Oriaja village square, according to them masquerades usually come out there. It was in the night and it rained heavily. On getting there the man stopped and told the girl that since she said she was going to pay N50 naira that he would have sex with her to make up the balance of N50 naira.
“The girl refused and started screaming but because it was a lonely place she didn’t get help. The defendant took the knife the girl uses to cut Okpa for her customers and threatened that if she shouts again he would kill her.
“At that point the girl became helpless and the defendant raped her severally and released her at about 12 mid night. At the end of the incident, my client found it difficult to walk.
“The matter was reported to police and the defendant was arraigned that same 2015, case file transferred to the Ministry of Justice and the matter was assigned to me.
“Since then we have been on the matter, after a while the man ran away, infact this matter was obstructed for two years, I have to track the surety that was how it came up again and we started the matter.
“Finally, judgement was delivered today. The culprit was convicted, found guilty and was convicted 7years with hard labour and without option of fine”.