24April2014

 

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Supreme Court Upholds 14-Year Jail Term for Rapist

The Supreme Court has affirmed the 14-year prison sentence concurrently passed on one Habibu Musa by the Kano State High Court and the Court of Appeal, Kuduna Division, in 2011 for raping a five-year-old girl.

Apex court said it found nothing on the three issues raised by the appellant to cause it to “hold back the hand of the Court of Appeal in upholding the conviction and sentence passed on the appellant by the trial court as the evidence of the prosecutrix (PW1) was effectively corroborated.”

The disputed facts, as ascertained by the Courts below, show that in March 2004 in Kano, Fatima Muntari, a five-year-old girl came home crying in distress.

“Her mother inquired from her what the matter was and there was no answer. She went to urinate and had difficulty and in the process of washing her up, her mother saw semen in her pant and body.”

A report was made to the Police and the victim was taken to the Murtala Mohammed Specialist Hospital, Kano where Dr. Muhammed Awwal, a senior consultant gynecologist examined Fatima and issued a medical report confirming that she was raped and her hymen removed.

The consultant also concluded that there was possible genital manipulation with genital infection. Fatima fingered Habibu Musa as the man who raped her.

Habibu was arrested, and during investigations, he confessed that he could remember taking Fatima to Rama House on March 27, 2004 and having sex with her.

But at the trial, Habibu denied making the statement, which was admitted in evidence. Consequently, the court convicted and sentenced him to 14 years imprisonment.

Dissatisfied, Habibu appealed to the Court of Appeal, Kaduna, which by a majority judgment of two to one, dismissed the appeal and affirmed the trial court’s decision. Still disappointed, he proceeded to the Supreme Court.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Mary Peter-Odili stated that the appellant erroneously took the view that there was no evidence of rape because penetration was not established.

“This assertion is difficult to accept since the victim had said at the court of trial thus: ‘He took me to a room and he removed my pant and he climbed on top of me so he put something and mucus in my private part.’”

“That piece of evidence coming from the prosecutrix, a girl of tender age and the incident occurring when she was five years old is graphic,” said Justice Peter-Odili, whose judgment also represented the decision of four other justices on the panel.

“The trial court was correct in accepting that evidence and the court below equally right to go along. This is because penetration, even if slight or weak, is sufficient to sustain a conviction of rape.”