An Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court, on Monday acquitted a sales engineer, Happiness Essien, accused of defiling his 8-year-old stepdaughter (name withheld).
31-year-old Essien, who has been remanded in prison since May 25, 2016, was acquitted of a one-count charge of defilement mainly due to the absence of the alleged victim to testify during the trial.
Setting Essien free, Justice Nwaka said: “I find the defendant not guilty of the offence of defilement or sexual assault, I set him free, he is thereby discharged and acquitted.
“It is the resolve of the state to ensure victory not only for the victim but also the defendant.”
Reacting to Essien’s acquittal, Mr. Babajide Boye, the lead state prosecutor, emphasized the importance of the testimonies of complainants in sexual and domestic violence in securing a conviction.
“I will like to seize this opportunity to appeal to witnesses in sexual assault cases, particularly the complainants. We commend their prompt reaction in reporting sexual offences to the police.
“Our expectation from them is to ensure that they follow-up these cases to a logical conclusion by not shying away or allowing themselves to be cajoled or threatened from coming to court to give evidence in respect of their complaint.
“The production of and appearance of most victims of sexual assault cases are dependent on the complainants who are most likely the parents, guardians or custodians.
“We plead that they should encourage the victims to come out. The efforts of the state is to ensure that perpetrators are brought to book and this can only happen if there is cooperation between the victim, the complainant and the prosecution.
“Once again, thank you My Lord for the well-considered judgment,” he said.
According the prosecution, Essien, committed the offence on April 12, 2016 at 7.30 p.m. at his residence at No. 7, Olorunwa, Shasha -Akowonjo area of Lagos.
Boye said; “The defendant defiled his 8-year-old stepdaughter.
“The crime was reported by the victim’s mother at Shasha police station, Lagos. She said that her husband, the defendant, has been having sex with her daughter.
“The complainant said that she detected it when air sounding bubbles was coming out from the victim’s vagina.
“She said after interrogating the victim, she confessed that her stepfather has been having sex with her.
“She said the daughter told her it started sometime in 2015 and that the defendant had had carnal knowledge of her on several occasions.”
During the trial, the prosecution presented two witnesses – the Investigating Police officer (IPO) and a medical doctor.
Essien, while testifying in his defence, however, denied the allegations.
The offence, the prosecution said, contravened the provisions of Section 137 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015 (Revised).