The Court of Appeal, Abuja, on Tuesday, upheld the conviction of a cleric, Basil Princewill, for defiling a 14-year-old girl and attempting to abort the pregnancy.
A three-man panel of the appeal court led by Justice Stephen Adah upheld the June 25, 2019 judgment of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on the matter.
Justice Baba Yusuf convicted Princewill, who is the Founder and General Overseer of the Mountain Mover Fire Ministry International, Nyanya, Abuja, on two of the four charges filed against him by the police.
The cleric, who was sentenced to seven years for rape and five years for attempting to procure abortion, however, appealed the decision in a suit marked: CA/A03c/2020 at the Court of Appeal.
But the appellate court dismissed the appeal for lack of merit.
Justice Adah, who delivered the lead judgment, noted that the counsel to the police, Simon Lough, effectively discharged the burden of proof placed on the prosecution by the law.
He said: “The sole issue, identified for determination, is resolved against the appellant.
“Having gone through the record before the court and the argument of counsel to the parties, we found that the trial court did not do anything wrong in convicting the appellant and sentencing him to seven years.
“This appeal hereby fails. The conviction and sentencing of the appellant is affirmed.”
He also dismissed the cross-appeal filed by the prosecution, who had sought a longer prison term for the convict.
Justice Adah held that it was the discretion of the trial judge and added that under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, a first offender cannot be given the total term of imprisonment provided by the law.
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