The police on Thursday arraigned five pupils of Ireti Grammar School, Falomo, Lagos State, involved in the botched rape of two female pupils of Falomo Senior High School in an Igbosere Magistrate’s Court.
The defendants were arraigned on four counts of unlawful assembly, breach of the peace, gross indecency and wilful damage.
In a dramatic turn of event, all the defendants were arraigned in a juvenile court on the grounds that they were minors, even though the state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, had said on Wednesday that one of them was 18 years and would be tried in an open court.
“Appropriate charges will be taken to court not later than Thursday with the suspects. Issues of the ages of the pupils also come into play.
“Four of them will be taken to juvenile or family courts, but one of them, who does not fall into the category, will be arraigned in an open court,” the CP had said.
One Michale Matthew had posted on social media how two female pupils were molested by their fellow male pupils in broad daylight upon the completion of their final exams.
Matthew said the male pupils chased the girls and tore up the skirt of one of the victims with a pair of scissors. Two boys had attempted to rape the girls to the cheers of other boys before the eyewitness raised the alarm.
The boys and three others were subsequently arrested by the police.
A competent source disclosed to PUNCH Metro that the defendant, whom the CP referred to as above 18 years old, tore up the girl’s skirt.
Shortly before their arraignment on Thursday, the presiding magistrate, Mr. P. A. Adekomaya, barred journalists from covering the proceedings.
But our correspondent later obtained a charge sheet with which the defendants, whose ages were put between 16 and 17 years, were brought to court.
The four counts alleged that they committed offences bordering on unlawful assembly, breach of the peace, gross indecency and wilful damage, which were punishable under sections 412, 44(1), 134(B) and 35 of the Criminal Code, Law of Lagos State, 2015.
Our correspondent learnt that the state Directorate of Public Prosecutions, which took over the case, was represented by a prosecutor, Olaitan Soetan, while a lawyer from the Office of the Public Defender, Ministry of Justice, Jamiu Alapo, watched brief for the victims.
The charges read in part, “That you, and others now at large, on May 4, 2017, on Norman Williams Street, Ikoyi, Lagos, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did conspire among yourselves to commit misdemeanour to wit; unlawful assembly.
“That you, and others at large, on the same date, time and place, in the aforementioned magisterial district, did commit act of gross indecency by forcing yourselves on a girl.
“That you on the same date, time, and place did unlawfully and wilfully damage a school skirt valued at N1,150, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 35 of the Criminal Code, Law of Lagos State, 2015.”
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty and were granted bail in the sum of N500,000 each with two sureties in like sum, while the case was adjourned till June 14, 2017.
But they could not perfect their bail conditions before the close of work on Thursday and were remanded at Borstal Institution, a youth detention centre, in Adigbe, Abeokuta, Ogun State.