A Nigerian judge has dismissed rape allegations against Biodun Fatoyinbo, a famous Abuja-based preacher of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly.
Oathman Musa of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Bwari Division, dismissed the case filed by Busola Dakolo on Thursday afternoon, saying it was statute-barred because it happened decades ago.
Mrs Dakolo, the wife of musician Timi, had claimed in media interviews months ago that Mr Fatoyinbo raped her around 1999. She said she was 16 at the time.
The Nigerian child rights law prescribed 18 as the age of consent when it was enacted in 2003. But it was not adopted until years after by several states, including Kwara where Mrs Dakolo said the alleged sexual assault took place.
Several states in northern Nigeria still have yet to codify the regulations in their statute-book.
Mr Fatoyinbo denied all allegations of rape and threatened lawsuit against the Dakolos, who initiated legal action to convict the COZA pastor of the charges.
While presiding over the matter at the resumed hearing on Thursday, Mr Musa said the charges should have been brought within the permitted six years.
The judge subsequently dismissed Ms Fatoyinbo's case as a waste and abuse of judicial process designed to punish Mr Fatoyinbo rather than obtain justice against his alleged wrongdoing.
Mr Musa also awarded a N1 million in damages to Mr Fatoyinbo, saying that it should have been more than that considering the time of the court wasted in entertaining the case.
Pelumi Olajengbesi, a lawyer to the Dakolos, said the matter would be appealed because the judge failed to appreciate the significance of the case.
"The court said the matter is statute-barred," Mr Olajengbesi told PREMIUM TIMES after the decision. "But the court did not seem to appreciate the magnitude of the case so we are approaching a superior court that will be better measured in its ruling."