A Lagos-based legal practitioner, Mr Shina Adedeji, says the evidence is key toward bringing perpetrators of female underwear theft to justice.
Adedeji made the remarks in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Wednesday.
NAN reports that in recent times, ladies live in fear over growing incidents of theft of underwear.
Adedeji, a member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), said that proving the internet fraudsters, popularly known as ‘Yahoo+ boys’, were guilty of stealing underwear for ritual purposes, would require adequate evidence.
According to him, without proper evidence, the perpetrators may simply be charged with stealing, which is punishable with three-year imprisonment or they could go free.
“First, it has to be proven that the defendant did, in fact, steal the underwear. Without such evidence, nobody can be convicted.
“It also has to be proven that the said Yahoo boy is a ritualist, if he has taken the lady to a suspicious place in the past that could serve as evidence.
“If the prosecution can only prove the stealing of the underwear, the only conviction for stealing can be obtained, not ritualism.
“You cannot just pick anybody on the road and say that the person is a ritualist without substantive proof,’’ Adedeji said.
He told NAN that it was only if the defendant had rough-handled a lady in the course of stealing her underwear that he could equally be charged with assault.
“The court of law is a court of evidence, it is not like a herbalist who would just consult his oracle and be able to identify the offender.
“Evidence, that is the key word. It must be brought to the court to convince it, else, the person would walk away free.
“You must be able to say this person has committed this offence; this is the evidence; then the law should take its course.
“There are available laws to take care of Yahoo boys, like Section 419 of the criminal code and the Advance Fee Fraud Act but without evidence, they cannot be convicted,’’ he said.
Adedeji said if as a result of adequate evidence, the stolen underwear was linked to the death of a lady, the defendant would then be charged with murder and hung to death, upon conviction.
He commended the Nigeria Police for fighting the menace and urged Nigerians to be on constant alert and report suspected Yahoo boys to the Police. (NAN)