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Ex-Exxon Mobil engineer bags 15-year jail term for raping tenant’s niece

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Justice Adedayo Akintoye of a Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere yesterday sentenced an ex-Exxon Mobil engineer, James Onuoha, to 15 years imprisonment for raping his tenant’s 14-year-old niece, name withheld. The judge sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment without an option of fine.

The court had on January 14, 2020, after the adoption of written addresses by parties in the suit, fixed March 25 for judgment but the judgment could not be delivered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a lockdown in March.

However, at the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, after the state prosecution counsel, Mr. Babatunde Sunmonu, and the defendant counsel, Dr. Victor Olowonla, announced their appearances, the judgment was delivered.

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Earlier before sentencing the defendant, in his plea of mercy for his client, Olowonla pleaded with the court to tender justice with mercy as he 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 tender justice with mercy.” 

The convict was arraigned sometime in January 2016 at the Magistrates’ Court on a four-count charge bordering on defilement by the Lagos State government for rape. He was thereafter remanded in Kirikiri correctional centre pending legal advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) before the case was transferred to the high court for trial.

Onuoha was alleged of committing the offence on January 4, 2016, at 11:30 a.m., at No. 25, Samuel Amoore Street, Idowu Estate, Ike-Ira Nla, Ajah, Lagos. The prosecution counsel, led by Dr. Jide Martins, said the defendant willfully had an unlawful sexual act with the teenager without her consent. He said his offences contravened Sections 134 (2), 135 (1), and is punishable under Sections 137 and 258 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.

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