The Chief Magistrate (Special Grade) overseeing the Magistrates’ Court in Igarra, situated within the Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State, namely Nosa Musoe, recently delivered a verdict resulting in the sentencing of Dele Eric to 14 years of imprisonment. This sentence carries no option of a fine, a consequence of Eric being found guilty of multiple charges, including rape, assault, and conspiracy, as outlined in the Edo State Criminal Code Law.
The heinous act took place in Ikpeshi, where Eric, along with three accomplices, two of whom remain at large, committed the offenses. The victim, displaying tremendous courage, resisted their advances, leading to her being subjected to machete wounds by the perpetrators.
The gravity of Eric’s actions was further compounded by an additional charge, accusing him of engaging in indecent behavior by masturbating and ejaculating on the face and into the mouth of the victim. It is noteworthy that the victim is reported to be a person living with a disability, amplifying the reprehensibility of the crimes committed against her.
Following legal proceedings under charge number MIG/23/2020, Eric faced prosecution led by Inspector Obaze Samuel from the Igarra Area Command of the Nigerian Police. The sentencing, handed down last Friday, underscores the commitment of the judiciary to meting out justice and holding individuals accountable for egregious acts, particularly those that infringe upon the rights and well-being of vulnerable members of society.
Nevertheless, among the individuals implicated in the case, it has been reported that one of the suspects is grappling with mental instability, rendering them unfit to undergo trial. In response to the developments, Priscilla Usiobaifo, the Executive Director of BraveHeart Initiative, an organization that extended support in this particular case, expressed satisfaction with the outcome.
In a statement released on Monday, Usiobaifo affirmed their commitment to persistently championing justice for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria. The organization remains resolute in its efforts to address and combat such offenses, aiming to create a society where survivors are empowered and justice prevails.
Usiobaifo stated that the intervention initiated by BHI in the aforementioned case commenced on January 4, 2020, coinciding with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequently, on July 24, 2020, BHI played a pivotal role in facilitating the transfer of the case to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID) in Benin City. Moreover, the organization further contributed to the legal proceedings by facilitating the arraignment of the case on August 12, 2020.
The BraveHeart Initiative for Youth and Women (BHI) has recently received funding support from two distinguished organizations, namely the Open Society Foundations-Africa (OSIWA-OSF) and the MacArthur Foundation, marking a significant milestone in the organization’s endeavors.
In the pursuit of justice, BHI conducted a commendable total of 30 court sittings at the Magistrate Court in Igarra. Despite the inherent challenges and a somewhat slow pace in the judicial proceedings, the BHI team demonstrated unwavering spirit, resilience, and optimism throughout the process, steadfast in their commitment to delivering justice.
The journey towards justice was not without its obstacles, particularly amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting stringent protocols in Edo State. Despite these limitations, the BraveHeart Initiative expresses gratitude to its SGBV (Sexual and Gender-Based Violence) case workers.
Their determination to uphold justice and provide unwavering support to survivors in accessing essential services remained undeterred. The challenges posed by the pandemic, including health risks and security anxieties, did not diminish the dedication of BHI’s team of caseworkers. Their remarkable solidarity shone through as they extended crucial support to survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in the rural communities of Edo State.
The BraveHeart Initiative for Youth and Women is characterized by its youth-led, feminist approach, operating as a non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting sexual reproductive health among young people and advancing women’s rights in Nigeria. The recent funding support from OSIWA-OSF and the MacArthur Foundation further strengthens BHI’s capacity to continue its vital work in empowering and advocating for the rights of youth and women in the country.