The Federal Capital Territory Police Command, yesterday [Aug. 30], said it had concluded plans to dock a Catholic priest, Reverend Father Anthony Ochigbo, before an Abuja High Court over allegation that he raped a 10-year-old girl.
The Officer-in-Charge of Legal Matters at the Command, Mr. James Idachaba, made the disclosure after he applied and withdrew an initial one-count rape charge Police entered against the priest before an Abuja Upper Area Court at Gudu. The Upper Area court judge, Alhaji Umar Kagarko, had on Monday, remanded Rev. Ochigbo in prison custody, even as he adjourned ruling on the defendant’s application for bail.
However, at the resumed sitting, the prosecuting counsel, Chief Superintendent of Police, Mr. Idachaba, persuaded the Upper Area Court judge to hands off the matter for a higher court to take over the trial. Idachaba, who anchored his application on Section 106 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, stressed that the Upper Area Court was bereft of the requisite jurisdiction to handle the case.
The prosecution told the court that it was the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), that okayed the transfer of the matter to a higher court. Despite objection by the defence counsel, Mr. Godwin Chukwukere, the court acceded to the withdrawal request. The judge said he had no option than to strike out the initial First Information Report before him and discharge the defendant. Nevertheless, the priest is still in police detention awaiting his arraignment before the high court.