An Ikeja High Court on Wednesday, acquitted a 35-year-old man Chekube Odunze, of defiling the two-year-old daughter of his neighbour due to insufficient evidence and poor police investigation.
Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye in her judgment noted that the prosecution and police failed to prove their case ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.
She said: “The police did not produce any blood and semen stained underwear belonging the toddler, the testimony of the medical doctor only established redness in the genitals and no signs of physical injury.
“The starting point is the testimony of the medical doctor, she was not in a position to say whether the redness was caused by the penetration of a penis, fingering or the insertion of a foreign object in the vagina.
“It was almost impossible to establish the cause of the redness of the private part.
“What also damaged the case is the non presentation of the blood stained pant of the toddler by the police to the medical examiner for forensic examination.
“The underwear was not presented to the court as evidence to even prove that semen was discharged during the act.
“The mother of the toddler did not also come to court to testify against the defendant. “
The judge while acquitting Odunze, admonished the police, telling them to be more effective and meticulous in their investigations as well as preservation of evidence which are to be used in prosecution of cases.
“The police needs to move into the twenty-first century and present forensic evidence and not stick to archaic methods of investigation.
“The testimony of the police witnesses did not sufficiently answer the question whether the defendant sexually assaulted the complainant.
“There was no direct evidence or no evidence to corroborate the charge against the defendant.
“I therefore find you Chekube Odunze not guilty of the offence of defilement,” Ipaye said.
Counsel to Odunze, Mrs A. A Babalola thanked the judge for the ‘erudite judgment of the case.’
The prosecution led by Mr T.I Ashafa, had told the court during the trial told the court that Odunze, a neighbour to the complainant, committed the offence on Dec. 23, 2013 at Temidire Str, Okeodo, Lagos.
“The defendant resides with his older brother and was neighbours with the complainant and her mother.
“His brother’s wife who went out on an errand, left the key to their apartment with the complainant’s mother.
“When the defendant arrived, he collected the keys from the complainant’s mother who was washing clothes in front of the apartment.
“The toddler went into the apartment with the defendant and spent some time with him, she came out of the apartment, walked to her mother pointing to her private part which was bloody and called out the defendant’s name.
“Her mother raised an alarm, immediately reported the matter to the authorities and the defendant was arrested.
“A blood stained underwear allegedly belonging to the toddler was given to the police,” he said.
Three prosecution witnesses – two police officers and a medical doctor, testified during the trial, the alleged blood stained underwear of the toddler was never presented in court as evidence.
According to the prosecution, the offence was in violation of Section 137 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.