An oil company executive, James Onuoha, who is standing trial at a Lagos High Court in Igbosere for allegedly raping a 14-year-old niece of his tenant on Thursday has denied any wrong doing.
He, however, said that he gave the girl N1, 000 as a ‘Christmas gift’.
Mr Onuoha, an engineer, made the statement while opening his defence.
He was first arraigned sometime in January 2016 at the Igbosere Magistrates’ Court on a four-count charge, bordering on rape.
Mr Onuoha was remanded in Kirikiri Prisons, pending the director of public prosecutions’ legal advice.
But when the legal advice was provided, the case was transferred to the high court for trial.
The Lagos State Counsel, headed by Jide Martins, handled the prosecution.
The prosecution opened its case and called witnesses, including the 14-year-old girl.
After the close of the prosecution’s case, the defence on Thursday opened its case.
The defendant was led in evidence by the Defense Counsel, Victor Olowonla.
Mr Onuoha narrated to the court how he visited his house at No. 25, Samuel Amoore St., Idowu Estate, Ike-Ira Nla in Ajah, near Lagos on January 4, 2016.
He said he went to the house to inspect the premises but did not meet his tenant, identified simply as Kenneth at home during the visit.
“I called Kenneth severally but he did not pick his calls. I decided to meet him at home. When I got there, Kenneth was not there.
“I knocked at Kenneth’s apartment, a young girl came out and said Kenneth was not around. I asked the girl her age, she said she was 16 years old.
“She granted me access to enter inside the house and do inspection.
“In the past, Kenneth used to hide from me. So, I thought he was hiding. I entered inside only to do inspection.
“I did not touch her. It was Christmas period. I gave her N1, 000 as gift,” Mr Onuoha said.
The defendant told the court that his tenant later picked his call at 7.00 p.m. that same day.
“I told him over the phone that his rent was due since two years.”
Mr Onuoha said that it was two days after his visit to his house that he got a call from his office about a report from his tenant (Kenneth) that he (defendant) raped a girl.
The defendant also narrated how he was called by the police at Lamgbasa Police Station and how he transferred the case to the Zone 2 Police Command.
After the examination-in-chief, the Prosecutor, Martins, cross-examined the defendant.
Mr Martins asked the defendant if he informed the tenant about his visit before going to the house, the defendant said no.
The defendant also said he did not think it was an opportunity for him to visit Lamgbasa Police Station, to explain his innocence when he was invited to the station.
He said he never knew that the girl came recently to Lagos to stay with the uncle at the time of the incident.
After the cross-examination, Judge Adedayo Akintoye adjourned the case until March 28 for the continuation of hearing.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the prosecutor earlier told the court that Mr Onuoha committed the alleged offences on January 4, 2016 at 11.30 a.m.
The prosecutor had said that the defendant willfully had an unlawful sexual act with the girl ”without her consent”.
He said the offences contravened Sections 134 (2), 135 (1), 137 and 258 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2011. (NAN)
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