Court jails lecturer, punishes children for flogging orphan in Nasarawa

A High Court sitting in the Obi Local Government Area of Nasarawa State has sentenced a senior lecturer in the Department of History and International Studies at the Federal University, Lafia, Dr Fred Ayokhai, to six months imprisonment.

Fred, who has been in the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service, Lafia, since October 22, 2022, was convicted for assaulting a 20-year-old orphan, Blessing Mathias.

He was first arraigned alongside three others before the state Chief Judge, Justice Aisha Aliyu, from where the case was assigned to Justice Solomon Ayenajeh of the High Court, Obi.

The other suspects are Emmanuella Ayokhai, Bob-Praise Ayokhai and Saint-Dan Ayokhai, as the second, third and fourth defendants, who are all his children, while the fifth defendant, Vera Ogbonnaya, is still at large.

They were charged with criminal conspiracy and physical assault with canes and sticks, contrary to sections 96 and 264 and punishable under sections 97 and 265 of the Penal Code (1963).

Delivering the judgement on Thursday, the presiding judge, Justice Ayenajeh, convicted the first defendant and sentenced him to jail for six months for criminal conspiracy and another six months for physical assault.

The judge, however, said the sentences would run concurrently in consideration of the convict’s plea.

Ayenajeh explained that the six months Fred had spent in prison would be reckoned with.

For the children, the judge said they would spend six months on probation, considering their age.

According to the judge, within the period, they would be tasked with the responsibility of keeping the premises of the Nasarawa State High Court clean, while the third defendant, Bob-Praise Ayokhai, was admonished to shave his dreadlocks.

In a post-conviction speech, the FuLafia lecturer thanked the judge and parties in the matter for the consideration and the leniency accorded him.

He recalled that as a father and teacher in a federal institution, he had never been found wanting in the discharge of his duties and disclosed that he had taken further steps to compensate the victim as part of his consent for a plea bargain.

The prosecuting counsel and the state Attorney-General, Abdulkarim Kana, said the step taken by the government was to give the defendants a second chance in life, particularly the children, who still had bright futures.

Recall that Fred and his children were arrested and arraigned by the police in October 2022 for assaulting the orphan in Lafia after a video of the incident went viral on social media.

The Punch