After about eight months of judicial rigmarole, it was judgment day last Thursday for Jacob Alonge, a native doctor, who was for over three years, engaged in an incestuous rape of his under-aged daughter, Gift. She got pregnant for him in the process. The 52-year-old herbalist, a native of Ososo in Akoko-Edo local government area of Edo State, was slammed with 21 years jail term by a magistrate court in Benin presided over by D. I. Adamaigbo for raping and impregnating his 17 years old daughter who died in an accident in the course of the court case.
Alonge was found guilty of three-count chargeof unlawful possession of fetish wrap of the victim’s pubic hair; unlawful andindecent canal knowledge of his biological daughter, and repeated sexualassault; as well as impregnating her.
Gift, who was five months pregnant was, however, not the only one who lost her life in the course of the case. Four others who were critical to the prosecution of the case also died in the January 16, 2019, ghastly motor accident in which she died. They were on their way to Benin for judgment in the case which started December 18, 2018. Other casualties included Rhoda Braimoh, and Promise Ezekiel, staff of a non-governmental organization, BraveHeart Initiative for Youth and Women, BHI which had been championing Gift’s case. Others who lost their lives were the victim’s maternal uncle, Ukere Adagbogu, and the driver of the vehicle in which they were traveling, Paul Opashi.
In a dramatic twist, Alonge, whose initial guilty plea had resulted in the court reserving judgment for the fateful day, recanted, pleading not guilty on the next adjourned day ostensibly believing that the key witnesses were safely out of the way. Consequent upon this development, the case had to start afresh. But Alonge merely postponed his day of reckoning. For the late Gift and other deceased persons, justice could only be delayed but not denied.
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In her judgment Thursday, Adamaigbo sentenced Alonge to five years, two years and 14 years respectively on the three charges proffered against him with the jail terms to run consecutively.
She said “he consecutively had sex with her who is his own daughter and got her pregnant, and thereby subjected her to shame and emotional stress; may her soul rest in peace. To serve as deterrent to others, and would-be offenders, we are of the opinion that the defendant should not have a space in a decent society”.
Adamaigbo held that the statement of the victim and the evidence of the PW1, confirmed what the victim said to the effect that “she was five months pregnant, and that she was demoralised, emotionally distressed, which is sufficient corroboration that the victim was indeed sexually assaulted”.
She further held that “It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had canal knowledge of the victim as she said in her statement: ‘My father by name Jacob Alonge used to wake me up at night and said I should follow him for prayers. When we reach inside the bush, he will force me and have sexual intercourse with me’. Then in the second statement which she made at the state police headquarters, she stated, and I quote ‘last year, which is 2017, my father, by name, Joseph Alonge has been having sex with me; he threatened me not to tell anybody and if I do, he will kill me’. She stated further in the same statement that, and I quote, ‘one night he called me and put me on top of a stone and used razor blade to shave my private body and threatened me not to tell anybody’. This statement was corroborated by the statement of the police in evidence”.
In her conclusion, the magistrate noted that “the convict admitted in his statement, and the law is that evidence admitted need no further proof. The defence that he was lured into the crime by his own daughter is an afterthought. We, therefore, find him guilty of each of the counts”.
Reacting to the judgment, Executive Director of Brave Heart, Priscilla Usiobaifo, described it as victory not just for Gift alone, but also for Rhoda Braimoh, Promise Ezekiel, herself, and her team. According to the graduate of political science from Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, “the judgment is also a consolation for the families of Rhoda Braimoh and Promise Ezekiel in that their daughters did not die in vain”. Usiobaifo was particularly very happy that no option of fine was given to the convict “because we have had several cases that we won and they will give options of fine, but this has encouraged us and those that died did not die in vain. I am really happy because it proves that even in death, justice is not evasive”.
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