The Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions has dropped a charge of defilement filed against Kingsley Okwumbu, a former driver of a school bus.
Okuwmbu, of Beehive Nursery and Primary School, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos, was accused defiling a three-year-old pupil.
In a legal advice with reference number: LIP/MISC/2022/76/12, dated June 7, made available to News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday, the charge against the 37-year-old school driver was dropped due to insufficient evidence.
The legal advice, signed by the Director of the DPP, Dr. Babajide Martins, was in response to a letter from the Divisional Police Headquarters, Isokoko Division, Agege, Lagos with reference number: CR:3100/LS/ISK/VOL.TI/22, dated June 4, 2022.
The DPP, in its legal advice to the police, stated that there were insufficient facts to establish a prima facie case against Okwumbu for the allegation of defiling a three-year-old pupil of the school.
“This office is of the view that there are insufficient facts to establish a prima facie offence of defilement of a child contrary to Section 37 of the Criminal Laws State, 2015 against Kingsley Okwumbu,” the legal advice stated.
The legal advice stated that the timelines of the alleged crime provided by the complainant did not match with available documented facts.
It added: “Facts reveal that PageB1Okwumbu was no longer the driver of the school bus as at March 23, when alleged incident occurred as PageB1 had been relieved of the duty of driving the school bus on March 14, for non-maintenance of the bus.
“The statement of PageB3 – Osem Aba Mathew (a new driver) who took over from PageB1 also revealed that each day pupils are picked from their respective houses.
“There is an entry book and same is completed by bus attendant when pupils are returned. There was never a time when the bus driver was alone with any of the pupils in the bus.
“The above casts a material doubt as to who in fact sexually defiled or molested Page A5 (the child).
“The law is settled that where there is material doubt as to whether the defendant commits the alleged offence, such doubt shall be resolved in favour of the defendant.”
The DPP noted that information in the duplicate case file revealed that while the mother of the toddler was bathing her child, she noticed that she cried anytime she wanted to wash her private part.
Upon inquiry, her daughter revealed that it was Okwumbu that touched her “wiwi bom bom”.
DPP further said though medical report indicated blunt forceful penetration of the child’s genitalia, as facts in the duplicate case file, the allegations against Okwumbu were stoutly denied.
The DPP however noted that the law was that allegation of sexual offence by a child who had not attained the age of 14 and could not give sworn evidence must be corroborated.
“In Nigeria, a person cannot be convicted of rape of a girl under 14-years of age upon the uncorroborated testimony of one witness,” the DPP said
The legal advice stated that this was in accordance with the Section 179 (5) of the Evidence Act, Cap.112 of the Laws of the Federation, 1990 and Section 218 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap. 77 of the Laws of the Federation, 1990.
It added: “In view of the foregoing, this office shall not prosecute Page B1- Kingsley Okwumbu, for the offence of defilement.
“There are insufficient facts linking the Page B2- Grace Augustine (a bus attendant) and Page B3- Osem Aba Matthew (the new driver) to the alleged offence.
“Page B1, B2 and B3 have no case to answer and are to be released and discharged forth will if still in custody.”
NAN reports that on April 19, Magistrate Ejiro Kubeinje of an Ikeja Magistrates’ Court had remanded Okwumbu in Kirikiri Correctional Centre for allegedly defiling the pupil.
Kubeinje had also directed the police to send the case file to the Lagos DPP for legal advice.
Following the release of the legal advice by the Lagos DPP, the school management in an update letter to parents dated June 24, expressed hope that the real perpetrator will be caught.
It said: “It was our insistence that the matter was taken to the Lagos State Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Office which shows we were ready to be open and transparent.
“We still live with the hope that the true perpetrator, wherever the person may be, will be found and punished for this act and we prayed that the child will recover psychologically and physically from the ordeal.
“Although the whole experience has been a very tiring one for everyone, we are glad for the opportunity it brought to do a thorough review and make improvements where necessary.”