A newly married man, Francis Azukwo, is in trouble after he was arrested by the police in Lagos for allegedly defiling a six-year-old girl, Ngozi, in the Ikotun area of the state.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the 32-year-old allegedly penetrated the victim’s private parts and anus during the sexual assault which occurred on Owoodu Street, Ijegun.
Our correspondent gathered that Azukwo and the victim’s mother were neighbours and had been living together in the house for some time.
Ngozi’s mother, Joy, who was pregnant at the time, was said to have been rushed to a hospital in the community where she was delivered of twins.
When she returned home, she reportedly observed that her daughter’s movement was altered and she checked her private parts.
She reportedly queried the girl on seeing bruises. Ngozi was alleged to have accused Azukwo of defiling her.
The matter was subsequently reported to the police at the Ikotun division and the Akwa Ibom State indigene was arrested.
It was gathered that Ngozi was taken to Mirabel Centre, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, where tests were conducted on her.
The results reportedly showed that there was penetration and her hymen was broken.
A source said the incident created confusion in the neighbourhood.
She said, “The two of them are neighbours. The suspect stayed upstairs, while the complainant stayed downstairs. The girl’s mother said she had gone to the hospital to give birth, while her husband was away from the house. So, Ngozi was left in the care of a cousin, who was about 16 years old. The cousin was babysitting her.
“She said when she returned from the hospital, she observed that the girl was not walking properly and she checked her private parts and saw bruises. When she interrogated the daughter, the girl said it was the suspect that defiled her.”
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Joy, who confirmed the source’s account of the incident, said she could not tell the motive for the alleged assault, adding that she did not know much about Azukwo.
“I did not challenge him. I just went to report to the police. He denied the allegation, but my daughter kept pointing at him that he was responsible,” she added.
The suspect was arraigned before an Ogba Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
However, the Magistrate, Tope Ojo, on seeing the charges, invited the parties into her chamber.
Our source, who was also present at the meeting, said the basic one pupil insisted that the suspect was responsible for the defilement.
He was arraigned on two counts of defilement and indecent assault.
The charges read, “That you, Francis Azukwo, sometime in the month of September 2017, at Ikotun, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did unlawfully and indecently assault one Ngozi (not real name), thereby committing an offence.
“That you, Francis Azukwo, on the same date, time and place, in the aforesaid magisterial district, did defile one Ngozi, thereby committing an offence.”
The police prosecutor, Inspector Clifford Ogu, said the offences were punishable under sections 135 and 137 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, Nigeria, 2011.
The defendant pleaded not guilty and elected summary trial.
The defence counsel, Godwin Ohaekwe, appealed to the court to grant the defendant bail in liberal terms.
Holding a watching brief for the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender was Mrs. Ibukun Ibikunle, who represented the complainant.
The magistrate, Ojo, admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N400,000 with two sureties in like sum.
“One of the sureties must be a level 12 officer in the Lagos State Civil Service and the other must be a registered property owner in Lagos State. The sureties should present evidence of three years’ tax payments to the state and their addresses must be verified,” she added.
The defence counsel, Ohaekwe, appealed against the condition of the level 12 civil servant, saying the defendant hailed from Akwa Ibom State and it might be difficult for him to meet such a condition.
The magistrate rejected the appeal and adjourned the case till February 12, 2018 for advice from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions.