The Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on Monday re-arraigned for the second time, four undergraduates of the University of Lagos (Unilag) and an undergraduate of Babcock University for allegedly gang-raping a 17-year-old undergraduate of Unilag.
The students were re-arraigned before an Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court.
The defendants are – Moboluwaji Omowole, Chuka Chukwu and Peace Nwakanma, all aged 19, and James Aguedu and Josephine Osemeka, both aged 20.
They were initially arraigned on Feb. 26, 2019, and plead not guilty to a three-count charge of child defilement and permitting defilement of a child in a premises and procuration.
The undergraduates were re-arraigned on June 27, 2019, on fresh five-count charge of defilement of a child, permitting defilement of a child, procuration and sexual assault.
On Monday, they were re-arraigned on an amended six-count charge of defilement of a child, permitting defilement of a child, procuration and sexual assault.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty.
Following their re-arraignment, the alleged victim (name withheld) was cross-examined by Mr Ben Edechime, counsel to Osemeka.
The complainant (alleged victim) during her cross-examination told the court that she had never met Osemeka prior to the day she was allegedly gang-raped by the defendants at High-Rise, a staff quarters at Unilag.
He said that she was aware that High-Rise was a public place.
“I saw her (Osemeka) when I first entered into the room with Yinka and also after everyone involved had their turn and come back inside.
“She was outside with the other rapists, and when everyone came inside, she was there when they we were molesting me. I was gang-raped by about six to eight people,” she said.
The complainant said after the alleged gang-rape, she felt used, was scared, confused and did not know what to do.
“There was no one else in the area where I was abused. My clothes were not torn while I was being raped because I was being held down and I did not struggle enough for them to tear my clothes.
“I did not know what to do after it had happened and I did not report the incident because they had threatened me with a video.
“The rapes occurred only in two different rooms at High-Rise and at Chuka’s (second defendant’s) house. An attempt was also made at a place I know as waterfront.
“I put up a struggle during the first incident but on other subsequent times, I did not put up a struggle because of the video,” she said.
Edechime, however, disputed claims that the complainant was gang-raped.
“From your evidence before the court, you were the one raping the defendants, enjoying them and you made the court to remand them,” the defence counsel said.
Responding to Edechime’s claims, the complainant said; “I did not know anyone besides Peace (her roommate and the third defendant).
“It is not possible for me to find strangers and be raping them,” she said.
After her evidence, Dr Oyedeji Alagbe of the Mirabel Center (a sexual assault referral center) testified as a second witness for the prosecution.
Led in evidence by Dr Jide Martins, lead prosecution counsel, Alagbe interpreted the finding of his medical examination on the complainant.
“The said client was a 17-year-old female, she came as self-presentation and I examined her.
“In my report, the client declared verbally that three perpetuators had earlier raped her in January 2017 and subsequently each one of them used to call her on the account that the video of the initial rape incident would be made open to the public.
“She recalled that the last incident was to have occurred on the second week of February 2017. There was no significant injury to the vagina.
“The tags of the hymen is suggestive of repeated penetration into her vagina. Also my lord, the absence of injury does not negate the client’s account,” he said.
While being cross-examined by Mr Adebisi Ademuwagun, counsel to Omowole (first defendant), Alagbe said that he had no contact with the alleged perpetuators of the crime.
He testified that he did not have the original copy of the report with him in court because he had forwarded it to the management of the Mirabel Center.
“What I was told by the complainant was part of the components of the whole report that made me come to my conclusion.
“The report was not based on supposition but as a result of a skillful, scientific examination process,” Alagbe said.
NAN reports that according to the complainant, she was lured sometime in January 2017 by Nwankama who was her roommate to High-Rise, a staff quarters hostel in Unilag.
She said she was gang-raped at High Rise by eight male students and sexually assaulted by Osemeka.
She alleged that the gang-rape and sexual assault at High Rise was video-taped and that she was blackmailed with the video and further gang-raped on some other occasions by the defendants and their accomplices who are now at large.
The alleged offences contravene Sections 137, 138 and 140(1)(a) o f the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015. (NAN)