By Amos Aar
THE HONOURABLE Justice Ijoho of the Makurdi Division of the Benue State High Court on Monday sentenced a 29-year old man, Denen Agena, for raping a 14-year-old girl, in Makurdi, Benue State.
Agena, a married man with children, was said to have raped the victim and abandoned her in an uncompleted building in 2020.
Lawyers Alert in partnership with Global Women took up the case to seek justice for the victim.
Denen Agena told the court that the victim was his girlfriend and that she consented to having sex intercourse with him in his house during which she started bleeding and he used her shirt to clean the bloodstains.
But delivering the judgement, the Justice Ijoho held that a matured man of 29 cannot have a minor as his girlfriend.
Justice Ijoho described Agena as “a pedophile”.
The judge also held that where a suspect confesses to have committed a crime, medical test becomes unnecessary in the case of rape. Justice Ijoho accordingly sentenced Agena to 6 years imprisonment with a fine of one hundred thousand naira.
The judge further held that if the convict failed to pay the fine, he will serve additional 12 months in prison, making seven years.
The defendant’s counsel appealed to the court to enter justice with mercy on a compassionate ground that “the young man has a tender family to cater for” and it was his first time to have committed the crime.
But Justice Ijoho maintained that the penalty was to serve as deterrent to others intending to commit a similar crime.
Reacting to the judgement, Victor Eboh, Esq., Senior Legal Advisor with Lawyers Alert, a rights-based organisation that advocates and protests the rights of women and girls, said it was “a happy day especially for those who hunger for justice.”
He lamented that Benue State has been besieged presently with multiple cases of rape and described the judgment as justice for all girls and women whose hands have been tied by technicalities, adding that it’s victory for democracy, victory for all the victims and survivors over the years, of rape and all forms of gender-based violence.