The two convicts, who appeared before High Court 1 in Lokoja, were charged with conspiracy, r*pe, voluntarily causing hurt and abetment – all offences punishable under the Penal Code.
The offences were allegedly committed on September 11, 2015, at Otokiti village, Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.
The presiding judge, Justice Nasiru Ajanah, established that Jonathan was involved only in the commission of the offence of conspiracy and voluntarily causing hurt to the victim, while Friday conspired with his co-convict to r*pe the victim, with others who were said to be at large.
Although they both pleaded not guilty during the trial, the court was, however, convinced by the evidence presented by the prosecution that they committed the offences.
The four exhibits tendered included the confessional statements of the convicts, which the court admitted in arriving at its verdict.
Friday, in his statement, had said, “On September 11, 2015, at about 9pm, I was coming from Mammy Market to my house in company with Lucky Jonathan, Bidemi, Samuel, Paul, and one other whose name I cannot remember, when we met the victim on the road. She used to sell yam in the area.
“Samuel stopped her, while Lucky (Jonathan) slapped her. Samuel said he was going to deal with her because she once stole a handset in his room. I left them and went home. While bathing at home, I started hearing their voices in the bush.
“After taking my bath, I traced them to the bush where I met them in a block-making factory. I met the girl naked on the floor. Samuel had already had s*x with her. It was in my presence that Bidemi and Paul took turns to r*pe her. I was the last person that had s*x with her.”
In admitting their confessional statements, the court noted that “the confessional statements were tendered and admitted without any objection.”
Justice Ajanah then proceeded to convict the two after observing that “the victim alleged that the 2nd accused (Friday) had s*x with her without her consent or knowledge.”
He said, “The 2nd accused himself had corroborated the evidence of the victim when he stated in exhibit 2 that he had s*x with her and that he was in fact the fourth to have s*x with her forcibly.
“The torn clothes of the victim recovered at the scene of crime and the bruises observed on her body also bear testimony to the fact that the act of the 2nd accused was done without the consent of the victim.
“I am, therefore, convinced that the prosecution in this case has proved the offence of rape under Section 283 against the 2nd accused beyond reasonable doubt. It has been held severally that an accused can be convicted based on his confessional statement alone, but in this case, other corroborative evidences have added credence to the confession of the 2nd accused.
“I hereby convict the second accused of the offence of r*pe, contrary to Section 283 of the Penal Code.”
In convicting the first, the chief judge said he was convinced by the “plethora of evidence” that Jonathan took part in encouraging and instigating the commission of the offence of rape by the 2nd accused and others at large.
Their counsel, G. O. Ameh, pleaded with the court to be lenient on them being first offenders.