Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
A magistrate court sitting in Ekpoma, Esan West LGA in Edo State, has sentenced two graduates of Ambrose Alli University, sisters Judith Ivie Okosun and Juliet Obehi Okosun, to jail for unlawfully detaining and indecent assault on Dr Peter Otubu, a lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Electronics.
Chief Magistrate Maltina Iluobe, in charge sheet No: MEK/18C/2012, committed Juliet Obehi Okosun to two years imprisonment for unlawful detention of and indecent assault on Otubu.
The other student, Judith Ivie Okosun, was convicted to a one-year jail term for the unlawful detention of the plaintiff in connection with a sexual harassment scandal, which led to the dismissal of Dr Otubu over seven years ago.
The first and second accused persons were convicted with a N20,000 fine on count 4, which bothers on indecent assault, while Juliet Obehi Okosun (sister to first accused) was found guilty on count 8, for the unlawful detention of Otubu.
The court recalled that Juliet Obehi Okosun (second accused person) had admitted in her evidence before the court that she had the key to the apartment where (first accused person) Judith Ivie Okosun unlawfully assaulted Dr Otubu, who was held hostage and stripped naked in their one room apartment in a private female hostel near the University on the 17th of July, 2010.
In count 8, the court ruled that the failure of Juliet Obehi to open the door of their living room and release Dr Otubu, who was made to write a cheque of N100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) to Judith Ivie, counted as inhuman treatment against Otubu under the circumstances.
The court specifically established that in the recorded video clip, which was posted on the internet by one Oziengbe, now at large – that the second accused person had told the court that she was in possession of the key to the apartment where Dr. Peter Otubu was held, making her liable for conviction with an option of a N30,000 for unlawful detention.
Chief Magistrate Maltina Iluobe, however, discharged and acquitted Judith Ivie Okosun and Juliet Obehi Okosun (who were both undergraduate students at AAU at the time they were charged to court) on counts 1, 5, and 6, which bother on conspiracy and stealing and frivolous petition against Dr Peter Otubu, following the failure or the prosecution to prove the case to the court.
It also discharged and acquitted the 3rd to 7th accused persons: Esther Ogbeide (21), Samson Ogbeide (32), Igbudu Samuel (42), Ojeabulu Eghosa Clement (37) and Aruya Ohis Williams (24), for lack of substantial evidence.
The court revealed the failure of Mobile Telecommunications Network (MTN) to provide calls log of conversations between the first Principal Witness (Dr Peter Iluobe) and some of the accused persons, as required by the prosecution to prove his case.
The court however frowned on Dr Otubu’s conduct, saying he “suffered from the sins of immorality to have gone to the room of his student which resulted in the show of shame,” humiliation and torture which left his career in ruins.
The judgement went on to say that:
“This court is of the view that there is a very strong conspiracy and set up against the Dr Peter Otubu, even though the defense counsel had submitted before the court that suspicion does not amount to conspiracy.
The court also held that “throughout the length and breadth of the case, there is a thread which runs through criminal procedure of the case against the accused persons.
“Therefore, I hold that count 1 has not been proven as required by law.
“For count 2, the first and second accused persons had testified that the allegations were communicated to the school authorities about the show of shame.
“I believe them in this because, judging from the position of the the Principal Witness (PW1) and the first accused person, the whole truth was found and doctored, such situation is highly embarrassing to him as a lecturer, his family and the University Community,” the court said.
The court also confirmed that the Institution had launched an internal preliminary investigation into sexual harassment allegations by Judith Ivie Okosun against Dr Otubu, who was Judith’s elective course lecturer, and had solicited sex from her in exchange for passing his course and graduating.
Responding, counsel to the defendants, Mr Olayowola Afolabi, concurred with the judgement on sexual promiscuity of PW1 as “a show of shame”.
But he pleaded with the court for clemency for the convicted persons on the ground that they were first offenders, stressing that the second convict is a nursing mother.
“The first accused person, my lord, is about to get married. I had to plead with the husband to allow her to come to court.
“My lord, the first and second accused persons were first offenders.
In his words, “my lord also has the option to caution the convicts in view of the circumstances. My lord is a woman who knows where the shoe is pinching us.
“So, my lord, I am pleading. Literarily, my lord, I am on my knees.
“It is a show of shame for the lecturer to come to the house of his student.”
Having heard the submission of Mr Olayiwola Afolabi, counsel to the defendants, the court handed down an option of fine to the first and second accused persons in lieu of imprisonment.
On his part, Dr Peter Otubu, said the judgement had vindicated him, clarifying however that he was not sacked but dismissed by management of AAU to enable him prove his innocence.
“I am okay. The principal suspect, Ivie Okosun and her sister, Juliet Obehi Okosun have been jailed. Whether they were given an option of fine or not,” he said.
“To correct the erroneous impression, I was never dismissed from AAU, my appointment was terminated based on the video that was posted on the internet”, Otubu explained.