The Parish Priest of Church of Assumption, Asokoro, Abuja, Rev. Fr. Anthony Ochigbo, charged with the rape of a 10-year-old parishioner, has been freed of the charge. A Gudu Upper Area Court, Abuja, which discharged him on Tuesday also struck out the First Information Report for lack of jurisdiction. The Upper Area Court judge, Alhaji Umar Kagarko, held that Ochigbo was arraigned under Section 282 of the Penal Code and not under the Child Rights Act. Kagarko said that the court had jurisdiction to try the defendant under the Penal Code and not under the Act as submitted by the prosecutor, James Idachaba.He, however, added that the court had to also allow the rule of law to take its course as matters of jurisdiction was paramount in cases. “I, therefore, terminated the FIR and discharge the defendant,” he said.
Idachaba had applied to withdraw the FIR, contending that it was not properly filed. He said that only the High Courts had jurisdiction to try cases bordering on the Child Rights Act which protects the rights of a child. The prosecutor said that the Act provides appropriate penalty for rape compared to the penalty provided by the Penal Code. He further said he wanted the trial of the defendant to be filed and commence in an FCT High Court which had the jurisdiction to try cases under the Act. The defence counsel, Godwin Chukwukere, said that the prosecutor was trying to hide under the shade of a minor, saying that there was no charge in a High Court on the case. He added that the business of the day was the ruling on the bail application of his client and not to hear the prosecutor.Ochigbo was arraigned on one charge of rape of a 10-year-old girl on August 29.