A Bayelsa State High Court sitting in Yenagoa has sentenced a 41-year-old man, Baridapsi Needam, to 17 years in prison for raping and impregnating his daughter.

The victim gave birth to a baby girl while the trial was pending.

Needman, who hails from Ogani Wily Kaira Community in Ogoni in Rivers State, was reported to the police by members of the state gender advocacy group, Gender Response Initiative Team in 2022 when a concerned neighbour noticed that the victim was five months pregnant amidst suspicion that the father was responsible for the pregnancy.

The convict was said to have started sexually molesting his 14-year-old daughter who was in JSS3, shortly after his wife’s demise and forced her to sleep with him on his matrimonial bed while her two younger brothers were made to sleep on the floor.

Needam, in the suit numbered YHC/14C/2022, was charged with rape contrary to Section 1(1) of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Law of Bayelsa State, 2021.

The State Prosecuting Counsel and Deputy Director in the Bayelsa State Ministry of Justice, Pere Amanda Egbuson, told the court that investigations revealed that the accused began defiling his daughter when she was seven.

Egbuson said the accused started by inserting his fingers into the vagina of the victim until he began having sex with her in 2020 before she got pregnant in 2022.

The presiding judge, D. E. Adokeme, in delivering the judgement said the prosecution led credible evidence and made reference to the DNA result which revealed a 99.99 per cent positive report that the convict is the father of the child.

Her words, “The prosecution has led credible evidence and made reference to the DNA result which revealed 99.99 per cent report that Needam is the father of the child.”

The court ruled that the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offence of rape and sentenced him to 14 years imprisonment.

Speaking after the judgement, Egbuson said, “The judgment will serve as a deterrent to others who engage in such unimaginable acts. A strong message has been sent that the court will not tolerate such heinous acts.”

She however thanked the Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Biriyai Dambo, for his immense support in ensuring that the DNA analysis was carried out to aid the prosecution in pursuit of justice in the case.

Also commenting on the development, a known advocate against violence against women and founder of Do Foundation, Dise Harry, said the CSOs in the state are excited with the judgement of the court.

Punch/Simeon Ugbodovon

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