An Exxon Mobil Engineer, James Onuoha, on Thursday told a Lagos High Court in Igbosere that he did not rape his tenant’s 14-year-old niece but gave her N1000 as a Christmas gift.
Onuoha testified before Justice Adedayo Akintunde after opening his defence to a rape charge filed against him by the Lagos State Government.
The government accused Onuoha of committing the alleged offences at about 11:30am on January 4, 2016 at No 25, Samuel Amoore Street, Idowu Estate, Ike-Ira Nla, Ajah, Lagos.
Prosecuting counsel, c, said the defendant willfully had an unlawful sexual act with the teenager 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.
Onuoha pleaded not guilty.
The defendant was first arraigned sometime in January 2016 at an Igbosere Magistrates’ Court, Lagos, on a four-count charge bordering on defilement.
He was remanded in Kirikiri Prison pending legal advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Following his indictment by the DPP, the case was transferred to the high court for trial.
The prosecution opened its case by calling witnesses including the girl.
Onuoha opened his defence, while led in evidence by defence counsel, Dr. Victor Olowonla.
He narrated how he visited his house at No. 25, Samuel Amoore St., Idowu Estate, Ike-Ira Nla, Ajah, Lagos, on Jan. 4, 2016.
The defendant explained that he went to the house to inspect the premises rented by his tenant “Kenneth”, who was not at home.
Onuoha said: “I called Kenneth several times but he did not pick his calls so I decided to meet him at home. But when I got there, Kenneth was not there.
“I knocked at Kenneth’s apartment until 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 the house for an inspection.
“In the past, Kenneth used to hide from me so I thought he was hiding. I entered only to do inspection.
“I did not touch her, it was Christmas period and I gave her N1000 as a gift.”
The defendant told the court that his tenant later picked his call at 7pm the same day.
“I told him over the phone that his rent was due since two years ago,” he added.
Onuoha said two days after his visit to the house he got a call from his office about a report from Kenneth that he raped the girl.
The defendant also narrated how he was invited by the police at Lamgbasa Police Station and how the case was transferred to the Zone II Police Command.
After the examination-in-chief, Onuoha was cross-examined by Martins.
When Martins asked the defendant if he informed the tenant about his visit before going to the house, Onuoha said “No.”
Responding to another question, Onuoha stated when he was summoned by the Police, he did not think it was an opportunity for him to visit Lamgbasa Police Station to explain his innocence.
He explained he was not aware that the girl only recently came to Lagos to stay with her uncle, at the time of the incident.
After the cross examination, Justice Akintoye adjourned further hearing till March 28.