Lekki hotel rape: Lagos to continue prosecution of two varsity dropouts
Lagos State Government has said that in spite of a letter of withdrawal by the complainant in a rape case, it was determined to bring the two defendants to justice.
The defendants are Don-Chima, 25, and Rasak, 28, both dropouts from Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo in Ogun State.
The duo are facing trial before an Ikeja High Court for allegedly drugging and raping a 24-year-old woman at a hotel in Lekki Phase One, Lekki, Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that during previous court proceedings on June 13, the complainant via a letter of withdrawal, dated June 3, informed the court that she wanted the criminal case against the defendants withdrawn.
She said the reason for her intention to withdraw the case was due to “intervention of family members and for the sake of my integrity”.
However, at the start of proceedings on Tuesday, Mr Akin George, a Deputy-Director in the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, informed the court that Lagos State would continue the prosecution of the defendants.
“At the last adjourned date, my lord said that the state should get feedback from the Ministry of Justice on how to proceed with this case.
“The instruction from the Solicitor-General and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice is that we should go ahead with the prosecution.
“The witness is already in the box and she should continue with her evidence,” he said.
Following George's submission, Justice Abiola Soladoye informed the court that she had received an affidavit from the complainant and her two friends, stating that they did not want to testify in the trial.
“Notwithstanding the receipt of the affidavit, the case before the court is between the state, the victim and the defendant.
“The court will proceed with the case,” she said.
Following Soladoye's pronouncement, the complainant was invited to the witness box to continue being cross-examined by Mr Tunji Ayanlaja, the counsel to the defendants.
Under cross-examination, the complainant denied that she, her father and her two friends demanded N50 million from the defendants' parents to withdraw her allegations of rape.
She denied wanting to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement, regarding the alleged N50 million.
She also denied making false allegations against the defendants when payments for the alleged N50 million were not met.
Recalling the events of the morning of the day she was allegedly raped by the defendants, she said, “I had half a medium sized glass of Hennessey and Coca-cola.
“I had a clear head to take care of Foluso, my friend, who was drunk.
“It was surprising that I slept thereafter as I knew I was not going to sleep because I had slept earlier during the day.
“Like I said during the last court proceeding, I went upstairs to take my friend Foluso from the reception to Chima's room upstairs,” she said.
Recalling when her friends confronted the defendants at the De-Lankaster Hotel over the rape allegation, the complainant denied seeing her friends beat up Don-Chima and Rasak.
She said that before the confrontation, she did not report the alleged rape at the reception because when leaving the hotel after she woke up from her induced sleep, there was no staff at the reception.
“I know the gravity of my allegations. On February 3, it was reported to the Maroko Police Station and on February 5 it was transferred to the Gender Unit of the Nigeria Police Command.
“There was police personnel who was with us at the police station and there were several cars driven to the hotel.
“The police were not in the car with me. I'm aware there are charges in court against my friends for allegedly beating up the defendants,” she said.
Following the completion of her evidence, the court proposed adjourning the trial to October.
Upon hearing this, Ayanlaja, Counsel to Don-Chima and Rasak sought their bail, noting that there were new circumstances to warrant them being bailed by the court.
“My lord, I respectfully submit that these are young people and I respectfully submit that the long adjournment should be a new circumstance that would weigh on the mind of the court as to the need to grant bail.
“It is the discretionary power of the court to either grant or withhold bail.
“The only condition is that your lordship will be satisfied that they will be available in court to hear the case against them.
“They are first offenders. It is the power of the court to reform and accused persons should not be put in a place they will become hardened criminals,” he said.
George, however, vehemently opposed Ayanlaja's application.
“With heavy sense of duty and respect to the SAN and this honourable court, the state submits that this application after the close of the witness' testimony is an abuse of court process.
“This court is functus officio (given a decision that cannot be re-examined) in regards to the application for bail. The next bus stop available to canvas this kind of argument is a superior court.
“My lord, application for bail is by a written application and a court cannot sit upon an appeal against its own ruling.
“A plethora of decisions consider such a move as judicial rascality.
“We are ready to proceed expeditiously in this case. I urge the application for bail to be trashed,” George argued.
Soladoye in a short ruling, refused Ayanlaja's request to consider granting the defendants bail.
“I have carefully listened to both the defence and prosecution counsel.
“A ruling denying the defendants bail was delivered on April 29.
“This can never be reversed by this court.
“There are no new grounds or circumstances in this case.
“This case is adjourned to October 9 for the continuation of trial,” she said.