Court absolves Osun monarch of raping ex-corps member
Yinka Kolawole A traditional ruler in Osun State, Alowa of Ilowa-Ijesa, Oba Adebukola Alli, was Tuesday discharged and acquitted by an Ikirun High Court for allegedly raping a former member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Miss Helen Okpara, in 2011.
Justice Oyejide Falola in his judgment in the case, which was instituted by Okpara, 23, with encouragement from some non-governmental organisations, ruled that she failed to prove her case beyond reasonable doubt that the encounter between the duo was not that of mutual consent.
The former corps member, who served in the monarch's domain, had accused him of forcibly having carnal knowledge of her after luring her to his private residence in Osogbo.
In his judgment yesterday, Justice Falola said Okpara failed to tender enough exhibits to convince the court beyond reasonable doubt that Oba Alli raped her.
He ruled that a case of rape could only be established with exhibits, which include the used bed sheet, the victim's pant and a medical doctor's report showing forcible penetration, adding that the prosecutor failed to tender all these.
Citing the case of Corporal Nicholas versus the Nigerian Army, Justice Falola, in his over one-hour judgment, contended that there was no proof that the former corps member was attacked by the monarch during the encounter as she had claimed.
Justice Falola, who said Okpara failed to show to the court the bruises on her private part as evidence that she was raped, noted that the prosecutor also failed to show to the court her torn clothes as she had claimed in her submissions before the court.
He said the court was able to establish that both the monarch and Oba Alli had been having intimate relationship before a misunderstanding ensued between them, adding that from the evidence before the court, Okpara was well known to everybody at both the palace and the private residence of the monarch.
He blamed the police for poor investigation of the matter, stressing that they failed to conduct proper and objective investigations into the matter.
Justice Falola however expressed displeasure with the attitude of the traditional ruler, saying he had denigrated royalty by sleeping with a corps member serving in his domain.
According to him, the monarch through his action has not only denigrated royalty, he brought disgrace to both his family and his community.
However, he said since social and moral behaviours were not punishable under the law, the monarch should be discharged and acquitted. Reacting to the court judgment, counsel to the state government who also stood in for Okpara, Mr. Femi Adedokun, said the state government might appeal the judgment.
Counsel to the monarch, Mr. Taofeeq Tewogbade, commended the judgment, which he described as “God's judgment which came at the appointed time.” (THIS DAY)