Sugar’s killing : Court Frees Lafioye, Says Ex Lawmaker Has No Hand In Killing
A High court sitting in Ibadan, on Thursday, discharged and acquitted former lawmaker representing Lagelu state constituency, Akinmoyede Olafioye, Rafiu Adebayo, Rasheed Oladele, Kazeem Ayinde who stood trial for the killing of Lagelu/Akinyele federal constituency, Honourable Temitope Olatoye, popularly called Sugar.
Olatoye was shot dead on March 9, 2019, in his Toyota Corolla while leaving Alape village in Lagelu local government area, where he had gone to cast his votes in the governorship election.
The presiding judge, Adegbola Mufutau said Akinmoyede and the three others were set free owing to the failure of the prosecution to establish the charges of murder and conspiracy preferred against the defendants.
Adegbola held that the burden of proof was on the prosecution led by M. A Ojeah, who failed to give cogent evidence and establish any nexus to connect any of the four defendants to the murder of Olatoye.
Further in his ruling, Adegbola read that the prosecution failed totally to prove any of the ingredients of the murder and conspiracy as contained in the criminal code, hence turning on the defendants to prove their innocence will contravene the constitutional rights of the four defendants as enshrined in section 36(5) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
Upon their arraignment on June 25, 2019, the defendants led by their counsel, Michael Lana, had pleaded not guilty to the two charges of conferring with one another to commit felony, murder and unlawfully causing the death of one Honourable Olatoye Temitope by shooting him with a gun.
The judgment was also based on the statements obtained from the two witnesses called by the prosecution: elder brother of the deceased, Mr Olajide Olatoye and one Inspector Ariyo Johnson.
Under cross-examination, Olajide Olatoye said that he was four cars away from the deceased car in a seven cars convoy and saw hoodlums shoot at the deceased, one of which was one Jelili Okanlomo.
He consequently said that the four standing in the dock were not involved in the death of his brother and that the charges against them be dropped.
Also, the second witness, Inspector Johnson said that upon receiving a report of the incident, the police visited the scene and subsequently University College Hospital, Ibadan, where Olatoye was reported dead.
Johnson had further reported that the police subsequently executed a search warrant on houses of the four defendants and found nothing incriminating in their houses before the case was initially transferred to Abuja on 24th March 2019.
Parts of the judgment read, “That the prosecution counsel did not bring any evidence showing that the defendants were are the scene of the crime. That the evidence exonerated the four defendants.
“That the prosecution did not prove any of the ingredients of murder. Section 316 of criminal code states ingredients of murder and section 324 of criminal code spells out ingredients of conspiracy.
“That the burden of proof was on the prosecution. The burden of proof is always on the prosecution and give cogent evidence to prove the charges before a reasonable doubt.
“In the discharge of burden of proof, the prosecution called two witnesses, Olajide Olatoye, who described himself as an elder brother to the deceased, and one Inspector Ariyo Ojo Johnson.
“Olajide Olatoye, the elder brother of the deceased, who is the star witness, in this case, said: My late brother was in the front in his car and I was about four cars away from him. We heard gunshots and when we came down, we saw blood coming out of his car. We also saw some hoodlums running away, one of whom is Jelili Okanlomo, who shot my brother.
“In answer to the prosecuting counsel, the witness said under oath: I know the four defendants now standing in the dock, none of them was involved in the killing of my late brother.
“By this statement of the eyewitness who turned out to be the star witness of the prosecution, the bottom is knocked off the two charges preferred against the four defendants. This is because the statement is exculpatory of the four defendants and the court cannot shut its eyes at it.
“The evidence of Inspector Ariyo Ojo Johnson that he was called and informed of the incident long after the event had occurred and when he and the officer detailed to Olatoye Sugar when to the scene of the incident, he said some people had taken the body of the deceased to the UCH and when they got to UCH, they were informed that the deceased had died and his body deposited in the morgue.
“And they did not find anything incriminating when they executed a search warrant on the houses of the four defendants does not advance the case of the prosecution any further.
“In my view, taking together the charges filed against the four defendants, the prosecution has not established any nexus to connect any of the four defendants to the offences with regard to the murder of Olatoye Temitope Sugar, I, therefore, hold that the prosecution has not proved any of the ingredients relating to the two charges against the four defendants.
“The prosecution failed totally to prove any of the ingredients of the two charges proffered against the accused persons, it will amount to turning on the defendants to prove their innocence which is not a requirement of the Nigeria criminal justice system, in fact, doing so, contravenes the constitutional rights of the four defendants, section 36(5) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
“For this reason, I will not consider the evidence by the four defendants, in its defence, as the prosecution has not established any of the ingredients of the two offences charged so as to warrant the court to ask any of the four defendants to enter upon its defence.
“In conclusion, taking together the case put before me by the prosecution together with the evidence led, I am of the opinion that the prosecution failed to establish the charges preferred against the defendants, and the defendants are discharged and acquitted.”
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