A 24-year-old woman (names withheld), allegedly drugged at a nightclub and gang-raped in an hotel in Lekki, Lagos, by two dropouts of Babcock University, wants the criminal suit filed against the defendants – Don-Chima George and Olusegun Razak, withdrawn.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the complainant made her request for withdrawals of the case during proceedings at an Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court on Thursday, via a “Letter of Withdrawal”.
The letter, dated June 3, 2019, was addressed to the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), and signed by the complainant.
In the letter, which was read in court by Justice Abiola Soladoye, the complainant attributed her decision to seek the withdrawal of the case to “intervention of family members” and for the sake of her integrity.
Mr Akin George, a Deputy-Director in the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) and lead state prosecutor, however, opposed the complainant’s request.
He noted that the complainant was in court for the continuation of her cross-examination by the defence.
“We do not have a directive from the office of the Attorney-General (AG).
“My lord, the Honourable AG is the complainant in this case.
“In every criminal matter, victims are naturally witnesses and as we speak, there is no AG in office due to the change in power.
“We are also aware of the rules of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) which states that even the Court of Appeal cannot stay an ongoing proceeding.
“Our office initiated this action in court and there has to be a closure one way or the other.
“My lord, we have submitted issues for the respective decisions of this court.
“We will bring the witness to state her position before the court, while we continue proceedings and await directives from the AG’s office,” George said.
Responding, defense counsel, Mr Tunji Ayanlaja (SAN), said while he shared the views of the prosecution that Lagos State originated the criminal suit, he disagreed that the absence of the AG had created a vacuum.
He also sought the release of the defendants from prison.
“The constitution is so clear that when we do not have an AG in office, the Solicitor-General takes over the function of the AG. My lord, we are ready to proceed.
“The unfortunate thing is that the defendants have been in prison ever since. The complainant, who is their (prosecution) witness, has developed cold feet for one reason or the other; this development is replete in the letter by the complainant.
“To meet the end of justice, I apply that your lordship should consider releasing the defendants on bail.
“At the end of the day, no compensation will be paid to them. They are young men who have languished in jail for four or five months,” Ayanlaja said.
After listening to the submissions of the prosecution and defence, Justice Soladoye said that the court would continue with proceedings, and that bail would not be granted to the defendants because the court had already delivered a ruling denying them bail.
“However, so that these proceedings will not be an exercise in futility, a short adjournment will be taken, pending directives from the office of the AG,” she said.
The case was adjourned to June 18 for continuation of trial.
NAN reports that on May 15, the complainant, while being led in evidence by Dr Jide Martins, a Director in the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), narrated how she was given a spiked glass of Hennessey and Coca-cola at the Kabaal Night club in Ikoyi, Lagos.
She alleged that she was later taken to another hotel, where she lost consciousness , and was subsequently raped by the defendants, just as they video-taped the incident.
The prosecution alleged that George, 25, and Rasak, 28, committed the offence on Feb. 3, from 5.00a.m to 7.00a.m. at De-Lankaster Hotels, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.
The offences contravene Sections 258 and 409 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015. (NAN) MAE/ENN/ASH