Nigeria: Appeal Court Affirms Seven Years Jail Term for Cleric

16 September 2020

The Court of Appeal in Abuja yesterday affirmed the judgment of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which convicted and sentenced an Abuja cleric, Apostle Basil Princewill, to seven years imprisonment for raping a 14-year-old girl.

The appellate court in a judgment in the appeal marked: CA/A/03c/2020 filed by Princewill to challenge his conviction and sentencing by the lower court, held that the appeal lacked merit and consequently struck it out.

Justice Stephen Adah, in the unanimous judgment, said: "Having looked at the arguments in the appeal and the records as well as the evidence adduced in the case, I hold that the lower court did not do anything wrong by sentencing the appellant to seven years imprisonment.

"The appeal failed and the judgment of the lower court is hereby upheld.

Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf of the FCT High Court had in a judgment delivered on June 25, 2019, found the cleric guilty of rape and procuring abortion for a 14-year-old girl in 2011, and sentenced him to seven years imprisonment.

In sentencing the convict, Justice Baba-Yusuf held that the commission of rape was bad enough "but it became more worrisome when the convict was someone looked upon as a man next to God."

He held that the convict's action was a desecration of the House of God and an act capable of destroying the life of the victim.

The judge added that he hoped the convict would use the four walls of the prison to become a born again.

Justice Baba-Yusuf, thereafter, sentenced Princewill to seven years imprisonment for the offence of rape and five years for the offence of attempting to carry out a miscarriage on the victim.

The judge, however, discharged and acquitted him on two other counts of impersonation and abetting miscarriage.

While reviewing the evidence before the court, the judge said he was impressed with the testimonies of the first, second and third prosecution witnesses.

The mother of the victim, Mrs. Ngozi Offor, had testified as the first prosecution witness. The victim testified as the second prosecution witness. The third prosecution witness was the medical doctor who eventually carried out the abortion after the drugs administered by the convict had led to the victim's bleeding.

The court was told that Princewill, who was then 33-year-old, forcefully had sexual intercourse with the victim between July 27 and December 31, 2011, at the Mountain Mover Ministry International and his house both at Nyanya in Abuja, without her consent and got her pregnant.

The court heard that Princewill slept with the victim under the guise that he was carrying out deliverance on her, and threatened to kill her should she tell anyone.

He subsequently gave her a tablet, Postinor, and alcohol with the intention to abort the pregnancy for her.

Thereafter, he falsely personated to be the father of the girl when he took her to a medical centre to procure abortion for her.

The case was filed by the police on June 4, 2012, with the prosecution closing its case on December 9, 2016, after calling five witnesses to prove its

The convict, who called two witnesses, including himself, denied raping the victim, adding that he only paid the hospital bills for the victim after he was told that the son of a senior pastor in his church raped her.

However, the court held that his story that he merely paid the hospital bills without asking what services was rendered was discredited by the testimonies of the victim, her mother and the medical doctor that performed the abortion.

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