Dr. Fred Ayokhai, a senior lecturer in the Department of History and International Studies at the Federal University, Lafia, has been sentenced to six months in prison by a High Court in the Obi Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. He was convicted of physically assaulting a 20-year-old orphan, Blessing Mathias, and has been in the custody of the Nigeria Correctional Service in Lafia since October 22, 2022.
Fred was originally arraigned alongside three others before the state Chief Judge, Justice Aisha Aliyu, and the case was assigned to Justice Solomon Ayenajeh of the High Court in Obi. The other suspects include Emmanuella Ayokhai, Bob-Praise Ayokhai, and Saint-Dan Ayokhai, who are Fred’s children, and the fifth defendant, Vera Ogbonnaya, who is still at large.
They were charged with criminal conspiracy and physical assault with canes and sticks, which is contrary to sections 96 and 264 and punishable under sections 97 and 265 of the Penal Code (1963). On Thursday, Justice Ayenajeh convicted Fred and sentenced him to jail for six months for criminal conspiracy and another six months for physical assault, with the sentences running concurrently.
The judge noted that Fred had already spent six months in prison, which would be taken into account. The judge also ordered that Fred’s children would spend six months on probation, with tasks that include keeping the premises of the Nasarawa State High Court clean. Bob-Praise Ayokhai was also admonished to shave his dreadlocks.
After the conviction, Fred expressed gratitude to the judge and other parties in the matter for their leniency and consideration. He also stated that he had taken further steps to compensate the victim as part of his plea bargain.
The prosecuting counsel and the state Attorney-General, Abdulkarim Kana, stated that the government’s goal was to give the defendants a second chance, particularly the children, who still have bright futures.
Fred and his children were arrested and arraigned in October 2022 for assaulting the orphan in Lafia after a video of the incident went viral on social media.