By Victor Graham
After four years of seeking for justice, a Bayelsa State High Court sitting in Yenagoa has sentenced a 20 year old man, Timiondu Jephtath, to 10 years imprisonment for raping a 5 year old girl to death.
Jephtath raped the girl to death at Akede community in Sagbama Local Government Area of the state in 2016 when he was 16 year old and dumped her lifeless body in an abandoned fish pond close to his residence.
Delivering judgement in the suit number SHC/4C/2016, the Presiding Judge, Justice E.G Omukoro declared that the one count charge becomes manslaughter due to the inability of the prosecution to prove the intent to commit murder.
In his judgement, after considering the defendant’s plea of allocutus, Justice Omukoro 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 may determine, for a period of 10 years at the pleasure of the State.
A lawyer and Gender Advocate, Barr. Deme Pamosoo, appreciated God for the judgement, saying the judiciary remains the last hope of the common man.
Barr. Pamosoo who acted as the counsel to the victim’s parents said she ensured that the victim’s body was recovered, an autopsy conducted by the Police and a watertight case file, presented to the State Ministry of Justice for the trial.
She said: “It was indeed a horrific death of an innocent little child of about 5years from the evidence given before the court. May her gentle soul rest in the bosom of the Lord and the parents find comfort.
“The defendant was charged for murder before the court but the court in given it’s judgement reduced the conviction to manslaughter from the circumstantial evidence and confessional extra judicial statement made voluntarily after conducting a trial within trial.
“I thank the state prosecution counsel not forgetting A.S Arthur the immediate past Attorney General Bayelsa State that handled the matter initially, thanks FIDA Bayelsa always standing strong for the child victim and every other person that led to the success story including my Law firm Donghan Chambers.
“From the onset when we were briefed by the victim’s parents, we immediately petitioned the matter to the Nigerian police for the arrest of the defendant to avoid the matter been swept under the carpet in spite of threats, we ensured that the autopsy was carried out with the medical expert’s at the Government recognized hospital involving the police, as concrete evidence which led to its prosecution by the state”.
Acting Chairperson of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in the state, Mrs Ebimietei Ekeowei Ottah, described the ruling 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”.