Update Post: November 28, 2023 11:58 pm
A Magistrate Court in Port Harcourt, on Monday, discharged and acquitted a lecturer at the Rivers State University, Prof David Ogbonna, who was standing trial for alleged sexual assault of a 21-year-old female student, Grace Ndamatin.
Ogbonna, a lecturer at the Department of Microbiology, was arraigned by the police on June 28, 2022, after being accused by Miss Ndamatin of sexually assaulting her in his office.
But the presiding Magistrate, Chief Magistrate Poromon Menenen, in his judgement said the prosecution team failed to prove that their client was sexually assaulted.
Menenen noted that the evidence claimed by the defendant was never presented in court and subsequently discharged and acquitted Prof Ogbonna.
Speaking to newsmen after the court judgement, Dr Emma Okah, one of the lead lawyers to Prof Ogbonna, said the ruling did not come to him as a surprise.
Dr Okah stated, “I will tell you that I’m not surprised at all that the judgement of this court came the way and the manner and the direction it did.
“Because to some extent, the law is a bit logical and we knew from day one that in the absence of any evidence, you know upon which the ingredients of indecent sexual assault would be based.
“There was no way the prosecution was going to succeed. The end result would always be the discharge and acquittal of the accused persons. And that is exactly what the court did.”
Okah further said that the court judgement would be sent to the university management to effect the reinstatement of Prof Ogbonna who had been on suspension.
“Initially we would have preferred that this case be heard in public so that Nigerians would be part of the proceedings, hear and see what evidence the prosecution would be going to tender. Not one, and you heard the court discharge the Professor and acquit him.
“So what wrong did the Professor commit? He was suspended, of course, we are going to take the necessary steps to return him to the status quo. It is obvious that nothing was found against him.
“He is innocent, has been innocent and will remain innocent as far as this case is concerned, based on the facts that we have today,” Okah added.
Meanwhile, the prosecuting lawyer, G.U Amanna, declined to speak to newsmen on the court judgement.