BRAVEHEART INITIATIVE LAUDS THE CONVICTION OF JOSEPH OKOYE FOR THE SEXUAL DEFILEMENT OF A 4 YEARS OLD GIRL

BraveHeart Initiative for Youth & Women (BHI) welcomes the conclusion of the trial against Joseph Okoye for the sexual defilement of Bose Ike (not her real names) – a 4-year-old girl from Igarra, Akoko-Edo LGA — which resulted in a guilty verdict on the one-count charge.

The verdict was presented two days ago February 24th, 2016. In August of 2014, Joseph Okoye (Oga Joe) a 45 years old Palm wine seller lured Bose (not her real name) from her great Grand mother’s apartment, and then took her to his shop, where he proceeded to sexually defile her.

Examinations completed by the Chief Medical Director of the General Hospital, Igarra revealed that the young victim/survivor was sexually abused as she suffered tearing of the vagina. On the witness stand, Joseph pleaded not guilty to the one count charge of unlawful carnal knowledge and failed to express remorse for his action. To prove its case, the Prosecution called seven witnesses, while the accused person defended himself and called no witness. He pleaded for leniency. However, given the age of the victim, he was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison with hard labour.

In the judgement delivered by Chief Magistrate Prince M. Oare ESQ, “I have listened to the plea for leniency by the Convict. I have also taken into consideration that the convict is a first time offender. However, taking the age of the Victim into consideration, the act of the Convict will not only be regarded as wicked, but evil. In this regard, an option of fine cannot be considered. The Convict is accordingly sentenced to three years in Prison with hard labour. The term of Imprisonment is to commence from when he was admitted into Prison Custody in 2014, since bail was not granted” the magistrate said.

BraveHeart Initiative was involved in this case from the onset with contact with the family of the girl to pledge support in line with BHI’s vision. The Intervention Team continued visits to the girl’s Grandmother and family served as assurance that Bose would get justice for crime committed against her. During the trial, family members, activists and representatives from BraveHeart Initiative stood by the Daudu family as they persistently appeared at the Magistrate Court, Igarra awaiting justice.

BraveHeart Initiative had to seek for support from likeminded individuals and other Civil Society Organisations including Girls’ Power Initiative Benin-City, Child Protection Network and Project Alert on Violence Against Women to ensure that relevant agencies were working to resolve the case efficiently and transparently.

“While thanking God for this victory, I acknowledge that the road towards this victorious day was never easy. BraveHeart Initiative for Youth & Women celebrates the fact that the legal outcome provides justice for Bose Ike and her family and pledges to continue to dedicate ourselves to the prevention of Sexual Violence. One of the objectives of BraveHeart Initiative for Youth and Women (BHI) is to facilitate the recovery of abused children and women from gender based violence. BHI passionately intervenes in cases of rape. Rape is a gross violation of sexual and reproductive rights. Rape and sexual violence are extensively reinforced by patriarchal beliefs as a means of control and to exert dominance and power over those who are most vulnerable” says Program Coordinator of BHI, Priscilla Usiobaifo.

BHI’s work on rape and sexual violence issues was recognized in December, 2011 when the Federal Ministry of Youth Development awarded BHI as an Anti-Rape NGO Champion in Nigeria. This award inspired BHI’s advocacy efforts. We advocate for governments at various levels to make funds available to law enforcement agencies and health facilities to reduce the financial burden of prosecuting such cases by Non-Governmental Organisations.

BHI renews our urgent call on the Edo State government to immediately establish a family court which is the proviso for the Edo State Child Rights Law (2007) and also call on the Ministry of Women Affairs to partner with Civil Society Organisations to develop a Sexual Offenders Register in Edo State. We further call on the leadership of Akoko-Edo LGA to provide protective action for the people of Akoko-Edo, particularly
children and women, to ensure that no further harm befalls them. Fellow Nigerians, we encourage and urge you to stand in solidarity with our children and women who are faced with and live in deplorable and terrifying conditions every day. An injury to one is an injury to all!

Signed
Priscilla Usiobaifo,
Founding Director/Program Coordinator.