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A Magistrate’s Court sitting in Port Harcourt has sentenced a 40-year-old man, Ifeanyi Ezeji, to seven years’ imprisonment without an option of fine for defiling his 12-year-old house help in the Rivers State capital.

Ezeji was convicted on one count bordering on unlawful sexual abuse of the victim at his house on Eastern Bypass, Port Harcourt, on February 11, 2019.

In her judgement, the Chief Magistrate, Felicitas Amanze, said the prosecution team proved its case, adding that the defence team was unable to contradict the evidence before the court.

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The chief magistrate said Ezeji’s denial of his statement was an afterthought.

Amanze ruled that the convict was guilty of the offence punishable under Section 32 of the Child Rights Act, even as the court frowned on the attempts by the victim’s family and Ezeji to settle out of court.

She said it was an act of wickedness for the man to lie to the court that the victim, who was a minor, had interest in him before he had carnal knowledge of her.

The chief magistrate further read that the evidence tendered before the court, including the victim’s medical report, the confessional statement made by the convict to the police and the N150,000 offered to the victim’s parent as settlement, were proof that the defendant committed the crime.

Speaking to journalists outside the courtroom, counsel for the convict, Lucy Effiong, thanked the court for being lenient on her client, saying Ezeji actually committed the crime.

She said, “The defendant defiled a child of 12 years and at that instance, a lot of investigation entered into the matter. When we came to the final conclusion, we discovered that he (Ezeji) actually committed the offence.

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“Out of shame, the parents of the young girl took her out of Port Harcourt. I just thank God for the wisdom of the magistrate who looked into the matter. She was able to fish out the truth in it.

“The medical report was tendered and the investigation took place by the police. They were able to prove that this young child was actually defiled.”

On her part, counsel representing the International Federation of Women Lawyers in Rivers State, Esther Achor-Korienta, urged victims to stop accepting settlement in cases of child defilement and rape.

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